Rooftops of Rome Part 4 by James

quiet, natural forest

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Augustus 4, 496 A.D., Night


The Roman night air was cool. Victoria and Rizio sat around a hay fire. They had walked about a mile into the forest. Rizio sat on a log, breaking and throwing twigs in the fire. “How old are you?” Rizio asked. Victoria sighed. “I turn twelve today. And you? How old are you?” Rizio was surprised. “Twelve a couple months ago. How long ago did the soldiers-” he gulped as she looked up. “They came to my house five years ago today.

“My family was having a birthday party for me. My brother had come home from Greece just for my party.” She sniffed. “He was going to the university in Athens. He was going to be a rebel like my parents. He was going to fight against the tithe. My family wasn’t trapped by the request for wheat.” She raised her chin. “They came, about ten of them. Our family had no idea why, seeing as we were already excommunicated. Their armor made horrible clanging and grinding noises. The ones in front had torches.” She was lost in the story. There was a knock at the door. Mother went to open it and was pushed down. They slit her throat without a hesitation. They trampled over her blood-soaked body. “Mama! MAMA!” I was terrified. Father and my brother pushed behind them. They told me to run. I burst out of the back door and climbed over a wall. I ran and heard a deep, blood-curdling scream. “Papa!” I heard my brother’s scream seconds later. All night long I hid in alleyways, crying.  Victoria looked at Rizio. Her face was sad, and a single tear was trickling down her cheek. She looked down again. “I will never forget the sight of my mother, bleeding.” She sniffed and wiped her cheek. “You look tired,” Rizio said. Victoria nodded. “Thank you.” She lay down on the ground. “Good night, Rizio.”
“Good night, Victoria.” She sat up. “You know, you remind me a lot of my brother.” Rizio was dumbfounded. “Oh. I’m sorry.” He winced and tried to apologize even more with his face. “It’s fine.” Victoria smiled. “My brother was a good man.”

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