I was making a sesame seed loaf in the kitchen of our lovely new
house in Pompeii. My daughter, Serenata, was playing on the floor and making
goo goo noises sucking bits of straw. Just as I was thinking how wonderful life
was I felt a rumble which shook the house. Thered been a few rumbles of
late. They said the mountain was getting angry. Wed all noticed the
ground had been shaking for some days, but this rumbling was stronger and
seemed to be lasting longer than the others. I looked out of the window. Smoke
was coming from the top of the mountain. I hadnt seen that before.
One of the reasons we bought the house was for the views, and
the mountain had always looked so serene before. There was another Zeus
almighty shake. The whole town looked as if it would topple over. People came
into the street to see. Then suddenly the top of the mountain blew off. I
nearly shat myself. Zeus! Youll never believe the noise a mountain makes
when it explodes.
I grabbed up Serenata and ran through to the workshop where my
husband Lucius was making horseshoes.
Oi, I shouted, didnt you hear that
bloody mountain explode?
I warned them, he replied, mend your ways or
the gods will get angry.
Well Im mending my ways right now, lets get
out of here.
Ive warned them for years, death and destruction
will come. But no one would listen. Now their promiscuity will kill them
And us as well if we dont get out soon.
Just as soon as Ive finished these shoes for
Bugger your bloody shoes! Weve got a mountain
Then came a clanking on the roof. I looked outside. Bits of
burning rock were falling, setting houses alight. I looked at the mountain, a
huge column of smoke rose from it. We couldnt escape. Wed be burnt
to death by falling burning rocks. I remembered Id left the oven alight,
but I couldnt be bothered to shut it down. Serenata in my arms started
Then the roof started to collapse and dust poured in. That made
Lucius get his ass in gear. We covered ourselves with a couple of his leather
aprons and ran out into the street. The air was full of dust and tasted of
sulphur, the street was full of people in panic. I tripped and fell. Someone
stood on me, kicked me in the stomach. Lucius pulled me up. A burning rock hit
my daughter in the face. She screamed. I tried to cool the burning spot with my
spit. We ran. People and horses were milling everywhere. Everyone was
terrified. My daughters painful screams in my ear didnt allow me to
hear anything else. I could hardly breathe. I turned to Lucius. I wanted him to
take Serenata, she was getting heavy on my arm, but I couldnt see him. I
called but with everyone shouting I knew he couldnt hear my voice.
I got out of town. Everyone was making for the boat huts near
the shore. Then I realised Serenata was no longer crying. She was limp, her
eyes staring, her mouth full of dust. I clung to her as we entered one of the
boat huts. We would be safe there. I found water and washed Serenatas
face and cleaned the filth from her mouth. I held her and kissed her as if love
alone would give her life. I watched as people came crowding in, hoping Lucius
would be with them. Then the dust wallowed in, and everyone panicked. It was
grey, thick, got into your eyes and nose and mouth. It was stinging and sour. I
tried to carry Serenata to air, but too many people were pushing to do the
same. I fell. I couldnt get up. I couldnt lift myself. People
stepped on me, on my daughter, whom I clasped to my side. Dust fell, it covered
me. It piled on top of me. Darkness came. I waited.
I stayed there for 2000 years. Then a small hole appeared, light
entered, and white plaster flowed in. I escaped.
I search for Lucius and Serenata. I know their spirits are here
The mountain is still there, in the distance, waiting. All
around it I see buildings, people. Why are they living here? Dont they
know the anger of the mountain? Will we never learn?