Lost Story and a Fresh Start


The most significant trip Diana had ever taken before was a two-hour bus ride to the Museum of Science and Industry in the sixth grade. Today, she gazes out of a bus window mesmerized by the mountain and the stunning familiarity of Italy. Once they park, all of her Senior classmates stand to exit, and Diana had a driving need to push them aside to rush home. An old man greets the group and escorts them to the Pompeii amphitheater. The guide starts a memorized speech, but Diana doesn’t listen. She inches her way to the back of the group, and then quietly slips away.
As soon as she steps on the stone walkway, her feet feel at home, and stories creep up her legs and finally reach her center. Diana follows her feet and becomes wholly immersed in a living, vibrant city that was Pompeii. She passes businesses and temples, but after what seems like centuries she stops and enters a room with broken walls and no roof. Where she stands, there is a design on a tiled floor. Diana knows the design well, it is the pattern she has doodled as long as she has memory. Turning to the view of the volcano, Diana remembers the shape that has changed, and she searches for the smoke. A father’s words whisper into her ear, “Vesuvius wants us to leave.” The message was in a language she didn’t know. Diana mouths a question, “Pater, Vesuvius semper loquitur. Quid relinquo?”
Diana slid to the floor, and tears flow from her eyes. She is home, but it would never be home again. She remembers hauling belongings on a cart and a heavy load strapped to her back. The further they fled the mountain seemed angrier. Her family walks with other citizens and neighbors, the group spreading out as they pass through Herculaneum. Pater decides we need to hurry to Neapoli, and there will be safety. The family walks on, and Diana could feel an indescribable fear and a desperate need to run.
She hears the remembered explosion with a shudder and turns to face the mountain. No longer smoke, but fire and rocks were visible showering all around where she lays. She sees the refugees stop and stare at the eruption. An icy shudder and then tears coat her face millenniums later. Diana is still on the ancient tile when her teacher comes in and sits beside her. “I know, this is an amazing sight and can evoke emotion, but I need you to rejoin the tour.”
Diana sighs, and nods her head. Words have not returned to her exhausted body. Slowly, rising the girl realizes that her memories are private and she must stay silent. Once back on her feet, a resolve embraces her, and Diana feels a new freedom and undefined resolve. All doubts have left her, Diana will go to college, and gather the skills to discover and share the lost stories buried in history. She makes a silent vow to return so she can tell Pater’s story first.