Rebecca had planned her trip to Rome since she was eighteen. Her degree was in ancient civilisations and the Roman empire captivated her imagination. Friends were supposed to be accompanying her, but their lack of money; lack of time; lack of interest, meant that she took the journey alone; her first time abroad….
Rebecca wasn’t sure what she had expected as she approached the Colosseum, the greatest stadium of the city, but she wondered if there were correlations now to its heyday. It was chaotic outside the entrance. Queues zig-zagged this way and that, and locals tried to confuse her, bombarding her with offers of front-of-the-line tickets or for special tours. If she ignored them they’d try a few different languages in the hope that she’s give them her custom, and her money. In exasperation, to the fifth person who tried, she responded with a completely made-up language – something that sounded a bit like German and bit like Welsh. Rebecca laughed at his confusion, but her amusement was short-lived as she bumped into someone trying to sell her bottles of cold water, and another with discount vouchers for a nearby restaurant. Eventually she pushed her way through to the ticket office and up and up and up the stone flights of stairs.
It was a mistake to come in August – the crowds and the heat were unbearable. It was almost impossible to find a way past all the selfies, all the loud audio tours people listened to without headphones; past the tour guides waving hats on sticks. Rebecca leaned against the railings and looked down on the pits that once contained slaves and all kinds of animals. It was harder than she thought it would be to perceive how it all once was.
She walked further round, as far as she was allowed to before the structure fell away beyond ruin, and found a spot by herself where she could sit on the floor in the shade and shut her eyes. Her hands reached behind her at the rough stone she leant on, and suddenly, she felt it. Goose bumps crept up her arms as the realisation of the age of the stone fully occurred to her. All the different hands that had touched that archway as they tried to get a better view of the entertainment. The strangeness, excitement and the horror of what they would have seen. With all her education and research, the pictures, sights and sounds came into her mind easily now.
She wiped away the tears.
***This was another one of the Writers’ Group exercises I sometimes share on this blog. Each time we meet up we’re given a prompt of some kind and we have about 35 minutes to write. This time we had a groups of words and we had to pick one word from each group to come up with something. Mine were: Rebecca, stadium and found. There might have been more but I can’t remember now and I don’t have the piece of paper! Anyway, it’s a good idea if you run a writers’ group. One section was a list of names, one a list of places, one a list of actions. We’re very loose on our prompts in our group though and it’s absolutely fine if we end up taking an idea and running with it even if it’s not quite what was intended! By the way, if you are planning on visiting Rome, then please take a look at my post with lots of tips about visiting the Colosseum and other places in Rome. And here’s my video of the day we had there last year if you want to see a little of what it was like for us: