Obsession is the theme of today’s postaday and it’s apt for the snippet I want to post today. Obsession can drive us to experience some powerful emotions and often there is no greater obsession than what the heart wants and cannot have. I’m sure most if not all of us have been there at some stage in our lives. My character Valens whom so far I have portrayed as lovable rogue, womaniser and playboy has an obsession – and it is going to surprise you.
She slipped along the wide street that separated the Palatine from the Aventine. The Circus Maximus was to their right and as they turned the corner, his mouth broke into a smile at the memories of his time chariot racing. He hadn’t known her then, she’d been a stranger and it was shortly before winning his freedom three years previously that the slender, curious Iberian had come to his attention – and it was at the Circus Maximus where she, along with her father, had wanted to meet the boisterous gladiator who knew how to play the crowd.
She did nothing then but smile at look awestruck as he regaled her father with his tales of taming wild horses and killing a man twice his size. She said nothing, she listened and when her father left she gave Valens a coy smile.
He saw her again several weeks later – by which time he had almost forgotten her. He’d made enough to money to buy his freedom during those weeks. Somehow she had learnt of that and turned up at the arena to wish him the best of luck. She introduced herself as Crispina Quintina. The next time they met, she was coming out of the bathhouse and he walked her home. Three chance meetings and already his heart ached for the enchanting young woman who oozed such sophistication and carried herself with such spirit. After that, he made an effort to see her and struck up a deliberate friendship with her father – they belonged to one of the more well-to-do Equestrian families of Rome – and Valens wanted advice on how and in what to invest his money that he need never again have to fight in the arena.
Everything was going well until the day she greeted him with a big smile at the door to their house. He had considered, and hoped to have permission, to begin a period of courtship with her and was trying to find the right words to ask her father for permission for this. Yet that day it all came crashing down.
She was to marry, she told him gleefully, to a senior foreman presently working on Vespasian’s new arena between the Palatine and the Esquiline. Her father approved and most heart-wrenching for Valens, he had recommended investing in Crispina’s husband’s ambitious plans to expand and take advantage of the Flavian thirst for building in Rome and the Italian peninsula. Valens could no longer bear to be in their presence so eventually excused himself from the proposed business deal and cut himself off from the family. Crispina made several subsequent attempts to contact him but he never replied to her letters. He still saw her from time to time, sometimes accidentally but mostly by going to the places he knew she was likely to be. He saw her, but she never saw him.
They finally passed the Circus Maximus and took a left turn to follow the rise of the Palatine. It was then that he saw it – the large, impressive new arena being built on the orders of Emperor Vespasian. Part of him was sad that he would never see its splendour from the arena floor and he looked forward to seeing the games when it eventually opened.
Crispina threaded her way through the crowd and stopped a short distance from the building site. After a few moments, a man joined her. He looked tired and a little rushed but he looked happy to see her. Public displays of affection were not the done thing in Rome but the man leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips, all stress disappeared from his eyes and he beamed at her.
This was her husband and he was as happy to see her as she was to see him.
Valens approached and keeping at such an angle that they wouldn’t recognise him, he passed by, turning his head away. As he passed he notice the man gleefully and gently place his hand upon her stomach.
‘Yes, I am with child!’ she exclaimed.
And my obsession? Working on this novel 🙂