The Tragedy That Made Me Happy


I never understood why. I never understood why it was me that had been sold as a servant-girl to my cruel master. I knew my name was Flavia, but I didn’t have any knowledge of my family and I had no idea of they were even alive. I only had the slightest clue of my age. Ever since I was young my home had been in the huge house of my extremely rich master. I was not obliged to talk to the other servants and I didn’t even know the name of my master. I could not even leave the house apart from walking into the massive courtyard and just outside the gate to the well. I would often see girls about my age giggling at expensive stalls, wearing fine silk robes and surrounded by bodyguards with vicious dogs. The house whom I called home was right near the gladiator arena and was three stories high; four including the basement where us servants (more like slaves as I now called ourselves, wryly) slept. The first level had a luxurious bathing area, the second the dining rooms and the third the beautiful bedrooms that I could only imagine as a servant girl like me was not allowed up there.

Everybody said that living in Pompeii in the empire of Rome was luxury, but not for me.

But there was one thing that always seemed to lift the weight off my shoulders, and that was my master’s stunning white horse Cassius. He was a huge stallion that could run as fast as lightning and I would have done anything to ride on his velvety smooth coat. My master boasted about him a lot and he cost such an amount that even my master’s friends gaped. And I loved Cassius too. He didn’t judge me that I was dirty and probably stank. He didn’t judge me at all that the apple he accepted from me was from my grubby hands. He was perfect.

But I guess not everyone had a purpose in this world…

I had just walked into the stables with a bucket of water for Cassius when I heard a distant rumble. I stopped and put down the bucket. I walked outside, through the courtyard and out the gate. There I began searching for what would have made that noise but everyone seemed just as confused as I was. Then, after a few minutes, everyone went back to their normal business. But not for long; for the next few days the sound returned and soon everybody’s eyes drifted up towards Mt Vesuvius that loomed over Pompeii. Some families were worried and soon left the city. My master laughed and said that they had no real Roman blood in them if they would cower from a noise.
But I was scared too. I knew we had to leave. I knew that something was wrong and whatever bad thing was going to happen it would soon.

And it did.

I heard screaming and I rushed out to see it coming. It looked like a huge grey monster and it covered the city closest to Vesuvius. It rushed at a roaring pace and fiery red rocks were being shot from the heart of the mountain. My master noticed. He shrieked and bolted from the building. The whole of Pompeii had erupted into pandemonium. The boats that had just docked were frantically leaving and even carrying some people who had desperately tried to escape. I didn’t know what to do, but that cloud struck fear in my heart and I knew I had to leave. All of the servants were rushing down to the lowest part of the house, but I knew that this huge monster would trap us in there. And then I remembered Cassius. I gasped and rushed down to his stable. He looked at me with terrified eyes and I went to calm him down. But I had huge luck as my master was just planning to go for a ride so his saddle and bridle were secured nicely. I had no idea how to ride a horse, but this would be my test.

I hauled myself onto his back gripped the reins and his mane tightly and realised I had no idea how to make him go forward. Then I remembered how they did it in the gladiator arena… I lifted my feet from his side and whacked them as hard as I could. Like a catapult he shot from the stables with me hanging on for dear life. He galloped as though the hounds of hell were tearing at his hooves. I had seen how my master would cruelly make him stop if decided to go crazy. I yanked his mouth and it worked. He threw his head, but stopped. Kick, go and pull, stop and with that in mind I galloped for the city walls, but the cloud was so close now… I would never make it. It was getting harder to see as the smoke surrounded us, but Cassius kept going and I kept holding on. The famous Vesuvius was turning the city to horror. It was killing innocent people and I felt guilty that I just rushed past them…

Pitch darkness.

When I finally woke up Cassius was standing next to a tree. It was night and as I stood up my head throbbed. I felt dizzy and sore and there was a decent bruise on my forehead. I glanced around and saw that Pompeii was far behind us. I must have knocked myself out when we were still running as Cassius was shaking with exhaustion. Perhaps a rock landed on me or I crashed into a tree branch, but apart from that I was clueless. I stood there for a little longer and then all of a sudden I realised what had just happened. I began to laugh and it was the best feeling ever. I danced around in joy. I couldn’t believe I was free. It was a miracle. I had survived Mt Vesuvius. It was the tragedy that made me happy.

Virag Toth
Years 7&8
Balmain Secondary College