Pompeii

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“It is at once the most studied and the least understood of sites. Universally familiar, its excavation and scholarship prove a nightmare of omissions and disasters.”

-Hadrill

Pompeii

Our footsteps sound like bottles, bursting in the heat. Each retort echoes off long neglected walls. Government funding.

“I used to date your brother…” His voice is dreary London, barely touched by Italian sunshine.

“Mmhmmm…” How else do you think I knew to use his name?

Silence. I can hear him deciding if it is awkward or no, then he continues his thought. “Been ages…did he tell you about us in the Munich days?”

“A bit.” Not a word.

He is asleep in his memories, silly to wake him. “So how is he now?”

“Fine. “ Don’t know, don’t care.

A door, white…three locks. Each turned by a deadbolt key. The pun is too obvious.

“Here we are then….” He throws the heavy door too wide, like a conjurer opening his cape in a seedy back room, grasping at a last sordid bit of drama. “Can only give you an hour though, and mind the cameras.”

I nod and step past him, seeing no cameras. He seems to simply fade like a ghost as I look around me slowly. Racks and cabinets and high sets of shelves, covered with slivers of death.

Black and brown and a funny sort of green. Most are just bits, impossible to sort. Some are clearly pieces, others almost complete. The best are out in the glassed in rooms, baking again in the merciless sun.

These are just the remnants, the overstock…the parts of death that aren’t really needed, thank you very much.

These are the fragments without memories.

These are what we have forgotten, what we never knew to remember.

These are the true foundations of history…one sooty, meaningless layer upon another.

I think I may have gone mad.

Eventually like a blind man I am guided out again into the sultry afternoon.

I have stood in the middle of the discarded remains, stacked unsorted in a stuffy Italian warehouse and felt the world drunk on the end of time.

The scent of it…the scent will always be at the back of my throat.

I have been breathing the end of time ever since.

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1 Comment

  1. For what it’s worth…I have just finished reading this aloud to a friend of mine. She says she has chills.

    This is still the most evocative thing I’ve read here.

    *creeps quietly away*


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