115 comments

Historical Fiction Creative Nonfiction

Limestone. God, I hate limestone. The dreadful color it reflects across the street and downtown from the museum steps is enough to make you despise it forever. In fact, not even pretty-princess pink defiles my neurons as much as the color of aged limestone. That day, when my class was on a field trip at the Met, I barfed inwardly, feeling no shame in my disgust.


Mr. Mercurio, his long rimmed mustache curling in the fuzzy museum light, kept asking us to come check out the ancient Rome section. Not that we hadn’t learned about it already; we’d been learning it for almost all year now. He simply and kindly wanted us to be introduced to something for which we did not care about, as is the nature of all teachers. I obeyed, as is the nature of all students.


The illuminated exhibits were like great silver spores in the magnificent bronze hall/fungus. Your eyes would flit everywhere at once, trying to process all of the different places you needed to go, things you need to read, statues you need to see… by see I don’t mean just look at. I’d been to enough museums to tell the difference at that point in my academia. To see is to look past the rust, the holes, the stains. To see is to envision the artist, the making and the creating and the crafting and the presenting and the decaying and eroding, to envision it in an older day.


That day, as I walked up to the Ancient Rome exhibit, my eyes/fungi were attracted to the red curtain in the corner, draped around a statue of a pleading young woman. There was a picture of a blazing fire behind the statue, crinkling with old age. Who on Earth was this?


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The setting sun filled the terrifying temple with an amethyst light. Light such as this shines like moonlight on a trout’s shimmering scales. The great expanse of stars stretched entirely in front of my humble eyes, ebbing and flowing with the proclamations of our gods. Vesta, my mother, my queen. Please protect me. Keep me sheltered, safe in the light of your hearth. 


Why am I shackled in the pitch black of the night? Why must our Empire depend on my choices? Why am I alone? Surely you would not do this to me, no, not you. Least of all you. You would not inflict such horrors upon my bare skin, prostrate me to the “glory” of the people. You whose flame burns so bright and pure. 


“Licinia, come. The hearth needs tending.” Muilitha, my elder, stood above me on the cold marble steps of my prison. My horrible, beautiful, lovely, gut-wrenching, disgusting asylum. Why did I love it here? Why, when I could be alive in the willows, tickling my skin with the grooves of the grass and shackled by none? Only Vesta knows.


The smoke of the fire billowed through the courtyard as I prodded it with a silver cane. The kindling set aflame with a vengeance. Soon there was no work left for me to do, none but wait for my fellow Vestals to return from their blessings. Oh, how I dread loneliness! No company naught for the terrible flames in the center. The flames that consume so much of my soul and send it to Pluto. 


Lovely sisters, lovely kin, come back to me. I dread the flames, the reckoning. Come back…


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As the day shortens and the sun begins to hide from the men of our country at war, we are depended on more than ever. There is no rest, no leisure, nothing but prayer and sacrifice. Late into the month Janus, we see the sun but half of the day. No wizards or feats of Socrates may spare the sunlight. The sun is divine, there is no arguing with it or entreating it to return.


Tora, another of my elders, knits in the corner. Every day before prayer, before devout sacrifice of all worldly pleasures, I watch her knit. There is no greater joy than watching a quiet rebellion, even if it is something such as weaving sheep’s cloak onto spindles of tapestry. 


“Licinia, what ails you?” she asked one night, when the sun had dared to show its face in a dramatic exit. Her soft, gray curls shimmered in the moonlight, as if Diana had woven the moon into the very fibers of her being. Tora was serene, never troubled by the monotony of our life, never bored by her vow of chastity. Tora simply was, and she was very happy.


“Avia, I am scared,” I said with a sigh as I looked for the moon blanketed by stars, “I think such sacrilegious thoughts of escape but I do not wish for punishment. I wish to leave… but I cannot.” Tora’s eyes were awake in that instant, popping up to stare deep into the excesses of mine.


“Child, you are home. There is no other place to be. At least not until you fulfill your vow.” I nodded with a shudder, thinking of wasting away in the hellhole of the temple for the next twenty years. The marble of the steps and the blaze of the courtyard all that would keep me and my thoughts company. 


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I am terrified. Vesta, help me, save me, keep me from my death. Why must I be slandered so? Why must the world strive to bury me deep beneath layers of coal and dust until my screams are heard by none? I must steady myself, cool my inflaming wildfire of emotions. Unus, duo. Unus, duo. Unus… Oh, my lady, I cannot. The world is too terrible, too hateful for me to be at peace. No fires can be quenched without the sacrifice of someone, somewhere, and I grieve for those akin to my soul. 


The Vestal High Priest, Testides, came to me that fateful morning with a smolder in his eye, centering on my timid face. I knew not what would come, not what would be forced upon me as was to Atlas. In the pinching cold, with naught but my silver robe to protect me, I was drawn into the chambers.


“Licinia, the flame has gone out.” I gasped with horror as his thin little line of a mouth morphed to form those fateful words. My surprise went unnoticed by him, as he was looking at me now like a jungle cat who had found his prey.


“You were the only one here on that morn,” he said with a puff of his chest, “How do you explain this?” I laughed to myself, thinking it a joke, but I knew it was not. He would never jest about such a thing, such a horrible thing as the extinguished fire. I could practically read his mind through the beady eyes that looked before me… he thought I had lost my purity. There was only one explanation, though overused and over prosecuted. He thought I was no longer a Vestal Virgin.


“No. No, no, no, no, no. You cannot oust me! I am innocent, you know this!” I implored him as I raised my voice. His beady eyes remained unmoving, though.


“Someone must be punished.” he said. He, who spells my doom and casts me into the depths of death, why must I be punished? Vesta, dea, why did you do this to me? Why have I been punished for the plights of others? Why am I alone in my terror? 


“I will not leave the world of the living. You cannot make me.”


February 09, 2021 13:02

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115 comments

Sapphire 🌼
16:51 Feb 09, 2021

I think this story was a bit less.....spectacular than the others? It was amazing on its own, but it needed something.....idk Overall, I loved reading it, and your idea for the sit-in was great! Your always super great at descriptions and like Cookie said, imagery, so I'm not surprised that this had GREAT imagery! Great Job!

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16:54 Feb 09, 2021

Yeah, I felt that too. I think the reason is the lack of background I gave on Licinia, but I was trying to make the style and the old way of talking the important part that I was practicing. Thanks you!!!

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Sapphire 🌼
16:56 Feb 09, 2021

Ohhhhhhh yeah I think that's it. But I guess there's a way you could keep that style and still improve it. I mean, you're Luke, I'm sure you could manage a way to do it :) No problem! :)

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. .
16:57 Feb 09, 2021

XDXD I am luke, aren't I XD Yeah, I don't think I will, because I feel like I only wrote this one to try out that style...

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Sapphire 🌼
16:59 Feb 09, 2021

you are XD Okay! :) (the style turned out pretty okay tbh)

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. .
17:03 Feb 09, 2021

Thanks yoouuuuuuu!!!! Jeez, I've been legit underestimating youuuuuuuuuu you're aWeSoMe

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15:35 Feb 09, 2021

I saw the little thingys(what are they called?!?!) that said historical fiction, and reading it knowing that the event was true made the experience very different(in a good way:D) this was so good and your names were amazing(as always) gosh I'm running out of words to describe your writing. This was off the charts Luke:D Nice job!!

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. .
15:37 Feb 09, 2021

I think they're called tags... I dunno. Thanks you so much!!! Licinia was an actual Vestal Virgin who was accused of incest with her cousin, so this is more creative nonfic. XD you too kind!!!

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15:38 Feb 09, 2021

omg yessss tags!!! Thank you lolXD Oh really!? That's so cool!! :DDDD

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. .
15:39 Feb 09, 2021

Yerp, Yerp, and Yerp!!!!

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15:40 Feb 09, 2021

XDD

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. .
15:40 Feb 09, 2021

XDXDXD

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B. W.
21:13 Feb 24, 2021

new thread?

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. .
22:24 Feb 24, 2021

sure!!

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B. W.
22:59 Feb 24, 2021

So how are ya doing today?

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. .
23:19 Feb 24, 2021

Great!!

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B. W.
23:30 Feb 24, 2021

Have you ever listened to Halsey?

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. .
23:56 Feb 24, 2021

Yeah, not much of a fan.

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Jexica Marcell
17:02 Feb 19, 2021

Another LIT STORY LUKE!!!!! (haha get it? Lit?) whatever that was a stupid thing to say anyway. But amazing job once again. you are making me run out of words to describe your stories. here are some: spectacular amazing freaking awesome YEE YEE omg i cant even love at first read dazzeling AMAZEBALLS (this is weird) Holy crap um....i need some more. i'll let you know when i get more. Love always, Cass

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. .
17:05 Feb 19, 2021

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH LOL Awwww that's hilarilovely!!! Tank you so much, Cass!!!!

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Jexica Marcell
17:11 Feb 19, 2021

hilarilovely!!!!! thats it, when (if) you make a comedy, ima use that one!!!! your so amazing!!!!!!!!!! and ofc, I always love commenting on your stories because you are always so nice and fun!

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. .
17:21 Feb 19, 2021

XDXDXD

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Jexica Marcell
17:36 Feb 19, 2021

ikr?

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Elda Du Toit
06:39 Feb 18, 2021

I got your story to read as part of the new "critique circle" initiative. This is not quite what I would normally read, but the descriptive language is really good. The story leaves lots of room for readers to interpret it in their own way. I like the creativity of that. Personally do not like a slash in text (e.g. eyes/fungi) as it diverts my attention, but it was probably necessary for this particular story... Well done!

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12:35 Feb 18, 2021

Thank you so much!!! It wasn’t my normal style

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Lord of the flies Idk man

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. .
12:49 Feb 17, 2021

Yerp!!!

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Maya W.
03:39 Feb 11, 2021

Hi Luke! This story had great imagery and use of description and character, but the plot felt a little all over the place and like it could use more developing. Perhaps if you made this a bit longer there would be more room for plot? Idk, I struggle with plot based stuff, too. Btw, my novella is out! https://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Threads-Saffron-Leaves-Story-ebook/dp/B08W4NGT9J/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=of+crimson+threads+and+saffron+leaves+book&qid=1612796855&sr=8-2

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. .
12:48 Feb 11, 2021

Yeah, I was really just trying out the style and not caring about the legit story. I just wanted to see if that type of style would work. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYyYYYYYYY I GET WHEN I HAVE TIME BC I IN SCHOOL BUT YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

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Maya W.
14:03 Feb 11, 2021

Okay, awesome!

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. .
14:04 Feb 11, 2021

Meep

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Coco Longstaff
22:52 Feb 10, 2021

Ooooo Nice ending and really nice descriptions And you call me the queen of descriptions! Anyway, Luke, did.....Isaac change his name? I cant seem to find him.... Nice story!!

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. .
23:04 Feb 10, 2021

Thanks youuuu!!!! YAS YOU ARE!!!! Yerp, many peeps changed their names. He's King Bob now!!

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Coco Longstaff
23:10 Feb 10, 2021

Yea! No problem! Awww thankss! Ohhhh OK!!!!! THX SO MUCH!! Also wanna be in my story?

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. .
23:12 Feb 10, 2021

OFC I WOULD!!!!!

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Coco Longstaff
23:13 Feb 10, 2021

Yay! Here’s the link to your characters....thing https://forms.gle/g82XsmkhhAB6Gsun7

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. .
23:18 Feb 10, 2021

YAYYYYY I TAKE NOW

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12:33 Feb 10, 2021

That first paragraph really took me in. While the rest of it could have been a little more articulate and elevated, I think you did a good job with the story! I never noticed (and Idk if you noticed) but you use a lot of metaphors. Idkkkkk

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12:47 Feb 10, 2021

Thanks so much!! Yeah, I use a TON of figurative language. This type of style isn't for everyone, but I just wanted to try it out.

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Mira Caplan
23:18 Feb 09, 2021

I would easily be besties with Keefe Sencen. 1. I can relate 2. He's a total prankster and needs someone to keep him in line 3. His hairrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (jk XD) 4. He's an Empath, and I kinda need/want a friend who can tell what I'm feeling and give me a hug when I need one 5. he. is. awesome. Keefe is reeeeeeally similar to you, lol. BESTIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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. .
23:23 Feb 09, 2021

XDXDXDXD I can so see that, but I'd say sophie tooooooooo YAS HE ISSSSSSSSS FOR ME IT WOULD BE KLAUS BAUDELAIRE, SOPH, ENOLA, AND KEEFEEEE

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Mira Caplan
23:25 Feb 09, 2021

Sophie and Biana would be my second best friend. Keefe is my bestie. But Linh is awesome, toooooo (HYDROKENETIC!!!)) YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! I'm kinda like Biana. Ish. AND MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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Mira Caplan
23:25 Feb 09, 2021

Sophie and Biana would be my second best friend. Keefe is my bestie. But Linh is awesome, toooooo (HYDROKENETIC!!!)) YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! I'm kinda like Biana. Ish. AND MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

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. .
23:28 Feb 09, 2021

XDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXD You're not a book character tho!!! Also, what do you think of the name Emery Woltzer?

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Mira Caplan
23:30 Feb 09, 2021

the name Emery is awesome. Like Anya and Emery from Alcator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Mira Caplan
23:30 Feb 09, 2021

the name Emery is awesome. Like Anya and Emery from Alcator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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. .
23:33 Feb 09, 2021

But I have an idea: Imma not reveal in any way whatsoever the gender of Emery. then put it in a novel. when that novel gets famous i make some awesome speech about how Emery is the personality construct, not to be constricted by either gender's norms... and then let the reader decide. XD I'm cruel...

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Mira Caplan
22:28 Feb 09, 2021

wowwww. Le drama. As Sapphire said, though I was thoroughly in awe, as usual. PART 17 HAS BEEN POSTED!!!

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. .
22:30 Feb 09, 2021

THANKS YOU!!!!! AND YAY

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Mira Caplan
22:31 Feb 09, 2021

NPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP You is Luke, after all. You can literally write anything and it's gonna be great XD

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Mira Caplan
22:31 Feb 09, 2021

NPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP You is Luke, after all. You can literally write anything and it's gonna be great XD

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. .
22:31 Feb 09, 2021

XDXDXDXDXD

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Cookie Carla🍪
16:03 Feb 09, 2021

I typically don't write stories like this, better yet even read (I don't know why...), but I really like this story. It was very different and your imagery... OH MA GAHD I LOVE IT!!!! I think (don't hate me for this) the museum needed a little more oomph.. ya know? It was kind of dry and it reminded me of Harry Potter for some reason and I'm not a huge fan on Harry Potter. Anyways, I really liked the story, the layout, the characters, I LOVE IT!!!!

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16:05 Feb 09, 2021

Thanks youuuuuuuu!!!!! Yeah, I feel like the museum wasn't fully explored. Thanks youuuuuuuuuuu!!!!! Yeah, it was a little more poetic because I wanted it to fit with the time. Thanks again!!!

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Cookie Carla🍪
16:10 Feb 09, 2021

No problem!!!! Let me know when you write another one!!!

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. .
16:11 Feb 09, 2021

I will!!!!

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13:47 Feb 09, 2021

Oh wow, this was so amazing! I loved this so so so much! No wait, I should say I 'larbed' it lol. The whole concept and history behind it are just so fascinating. Great job on this one Luke!

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13:48 Feb 09, 2021

Thanks you so much Johanna!!!! Ooh, name-change again!!!! LARB YESSSSSH THANK YOU!!!!

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13:48 Feb 09, 2021

Haha thanks :) And Karina is my actual name lol

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13:50 Feb 09, 2021

It is??? Ooh, I'll call you that then!!!

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Maya -
04:35 Feb 11, 2021

Reedsy-cast out! :D

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01:40 Feb 10, 2021

UGH I HATE MYSELF I HAVENT READ LIKE YOUR 5 MOST RECENT STORIES AT ALL I AM THE WORST I HATE MY SELF UGH

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. .
12:46 Feb 10, 2021

NO YOU'RE NOTTTTTTTT

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00:52 Feb 11, 2021

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I JUST CAN'T FIND TIMEEEEEEEEE SOMANYTHINGSTODOWHENWILLIEVERREADTHEMAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

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. .
12:47 Feb 11, 2021

THATS FINEEEEEE

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16:25 Feb 11, 2021

D;

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14:37 Feb 09, 2021

I love how many NYC stories I'm seeing this week!!!!!! This one's amazing (I'm overusing this word on here, tbh)!!! (It's certainly better than mine 😅)!!!! I love the element of Rome (it M I G H T be because of my PJO obsession. . . .)!!! The name Licinia is beautiful. The metaphors, descriptions, everything. . . it's amazing. Keep it up!!! (Also I feel the need for some feedback on my latest story, so if you can give me some, that would be great! You don't have to, though.) Edit: I'm overusing exclamation points so much XDDD

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14:39 Feb 09, 2021

Thanks youuuuuuuuu!!!! I didn't come up with this name or storyline, its a true event that happened to Licinia, a vestal virgin.

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14:52 Feb 09, 2021

That's pretty cool!

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14:56 Feb 09, 2021

Yeah!!

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15:08 Feb 09, 2021

:)

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Maya -
14:06 Feb 09, 2021

Wow- I loved the narrators of the girl in the temple and the story did seem really well researched. Also, I loved how you described the fire and lighting inside the temple, it fit perfectly. And the ending was so dramatic!!! Ohmigosh this is amazing!!! :DDD

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14:08 Feb 09, 2021

Thanks you so much!!! Yerp, I watched a ted-ed video about it and I was like, eh, doesn't fully fit the prompt but OOOOHOHOHOHOOOHOOO ITS SUCH A GREAT IDEAAAAAA (that was legit me)

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Maya -
14:09 Feb 09, 2021

Ohh is that who Herman Melville is? XD

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. .
14:09 Feb 09, 2021

Nooooooo herman melville wrote Moby Dick, which really influenced my style in this one. The ted ed one was helpful tho

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Maya -
14:13 Feb 09, 2021

Oh XD I'm dumb ;p

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. .
14:16 Feb 09, 2021

NO YOU'RE NOT

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Kate Reynolds
13:37 Feb 09, 2021

OMGGGG THIS WAS AMAZINGGGGG I loved ittttttt, the details were SO BEAUTIFUL I really liked the transitions, but there was this one thing: "Vesta, my mother, my queen. Please protect me. Keep me sheltered, safe in the light of your hearth. Why am I shackled in the pitch black of the night? Why must our Empire depend on my choices? Why am I alone? Surely you would not do this to me, no, not you. Least of all you. You would not inflict such horrors upon my bare skin, prostrate me to the “glory” of the people. You whose flame burns so bright an...

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. .
13:38 Feb 09, 2021

OMG I THOUGHT YOU WERE INACTIVE!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH AND OF COURSE I WILL!!!!!!!

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Kate Reynolds
13:39 Feb 09, 2021

I wassss but I decided to come back for today (IT'S VARSHA'S BDAYYYYYYYY)

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13:41 Feb 09, 2021

OH YAYYYYYYYYy OOOOOH HAPPY BDAY TO HER!!!

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Kate Reynolds
13:43 Feb 09, 2021

YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!! :DDDD

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. .
13:44 Feb 09, 2021

:DDDDDDDDD

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13:16 Feb 09, 2021

This is inspired by the actual story of Licinia the Vestal Virgin, who was wrongfully accused of incest with her cousin. This is backed up by legit facts, and I acknowledge a sole debt to Herman Melville who helped me write this. Enjoy!!

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