And here it is, the second chapter.
Before it’s read…and hopefully liked, and a massive kudos to those who have been reading it and sharing it, I really do appreciate it. I thought I’d better explain about who these people are. They are all real people. I am lucky in life to know a fantastic family in America, who I met in Italy six year ago, who pretty much adopted me on the spot after I went up to them and asked them if I wanted to take a group picture of them all, they invited me to explore the ruins with them, and that was it. It was like magic, since a solo traveller staying in Pompeii and a family who were just in Pompeii for the day, and were staying in Rome. Stuff like this doesn’t just happen.
So to Jennifer, Jimmy, the real Julie and Morgan (sorry in the story when I write it, you get a mention later) and to the real Sophia. I love you all and thank you for always inspiring me xxx
The Wise and Wild Child
Sophia went back to the Hotel, fully expecting her sister to be there. Knowing what she had done, and be ready to unleash total fury on her little sister. Instead, she went back with a note on the front desk, telling her that Julie may be busy with Ballard for a while and that she might see her at dinner.
That might turned into never as Sophia once again was alone in the Hotel, after showering the grime and grit off her body, watching the sand and blood disappear down the drain. Noticing the purple bruises that were appearing on her back courtesy of the mirror in the bathroom, which she hoped would fade quickly.
There were scrapes down her skin, from where she had been slammed into the rocks, which wouldn’t disappear as fast. Sophia all alone just stood on the balcony overlooking the sea less beach and just stared at the cave for hours.
The day before, it looked inviting, but now every time she looked at it just gave her that twist in her stomach, in some way wishing her sister was there since she had hardly seen Julie all week. Her skills as a temporary parent now proved to be debatable at best, as she mentally just strived for comfort and for once ordering room service didn’t help.
The tasty dish of Bulgogi. The grilled marinated beef she had come to love in her weeks on the Island. Hence, it was what she typically ordered, seemed to taste of nothing, but she ate it anyway.
Once again her only real human contact was the Waiter who removed the dish from her room, who gave her his usual sympathetic smile, which Sophia returned out of politeness, but felt tormented inside.
Sophia knew she had to go in and get her backpack, and knew that her sister would kill her if she found out what she had done. But then again, after seeing, whatever that was. She had seen something…right?
Something in that cave had said “Anyoung hashimnikka.” Something had actually said “Hello” to her in formal Korean, but how? Was Sophia’s inner thought of the evening, as she went over everything that had happened that day.
Feeling concerned that her mind was playing tricks on her, and hoping it was Sophia felt exhausted and raw from the events of the day. Eventually, she tumbled into bed and wrapped the fresh sheets around her body. Feeling that sleep would evade her, due to the pain she felt, but instead perhaps lulled by the full moon and the cool breeze, she slept instantly.
“Sophia, get up. It’s midday already”.
Sophia just groaned, her body in pain, and she opened her eyes and shut them again due to sunlight streaming through the window. Wondering if she remained still enough, would her sister just get bored and disappear?
“Sophia, I’m telling you to get up now”.
Once again her sister sounded so much like her mom, for a moment it could almost be in the next room, even though she felt confident that Julie would not be happy being told this.
“Get up already, you’re wasting the day”. The familiar voice, now sounding more aggressive.
“Alright, I’m up. I’m up” Sophia grumbled, pulling herself from the bed, her legs protesting this action as she finally stood up and Julie stepped into the room.
Due to the heat, her sisters had pulled her brunette hair into a ponytail, but strands had become loose and were coiling around her head, making Julie look more dishevelled. Julie was wearing a black T-Shirt and jeans, which ensured she looked younger than a woman in her late twenties.
“What are you doing here, anyway?” Sophia asked her sister while trying not to show how much pain she was currently hiding, and hoping that her sister didn’t notice her grazed knees under her nightie.
“I came back to change my top, and you’re still in bed”, the tone felt accusing, which Sophia didn’t blame. She knew her sister spent her days completely stressed running the excavation for The Ballard Institute. The reason why Julie had been summoned to the Island was having some severe logistic issues. Even though her sister hadn’t gone into the reason why.
“Why are you sleeping so late anyone, you sick or something?”
Her sister wore the look of concern on her face, as Sophia just shook her head.
“No, must have had heatstroke or something”. Sophia said quickly while Julie made a move to leave.
“Well if you’re going out, remember to take your water, and be back for dinner and have something to eat before you go. You missed breakfast and lunch”. Her words so rapid, all Sophia could only nod, and with a click of the door Julie had gone.
Still standing, Sophia just looked at the bed, just wishing to dive back into the sheets and sleep longer, though relieved her sister hadn’t mentioned or even noticed her missing torch, which meant she didn’t need it that day.
But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t need it later and stepping to the balcony she felt the heat wash over her and let her gaze fall to the cave. Sill there, like a jagged cut in the cliff overlooking the beach.
Sophia knew she had to get her stuff back, even though the torch belonged to sisters, but the backpack had her name on the label, making it clear who it belonged too.
Quickly making up her mind, even though she didn’t grab anything to eat due to her stomach feeling like it was twisting in knots.
Sophia dressed quickly but did grab a bottle of water from the fridge in the living space in the main room before leaving the Hotel, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible as she walked down to the beach.
Like the day before, with no one in sight, Sophia felt like there could be. Constantly looking over her shoulder and across the beach in case someone should appear until she came to the mouth of the cave.
This time, she didn’t have a torch, but held her iPhone in the air, to get some extra light, and once again this time, with a lot more hesitation she stepped past the rock pool, which had almost destroyed her ankle the day earlier.
She looked up to the stalactites, still hanging perfectly in the air, and recalled her steps perfectly, as is nothing was different from the day before.
The fact that this felt so familiar didn’t stop the hesitation in her stomach, and still moving through the cave, she stepped over to the stone wall. Still clad in the ancient carvings, and run her hands over the smooth warmth, but just kept walking until the perfect gap in the rock appeared in sight.
There laid her bag and torch. All she had to do was go in and grab it. Get back to the beach and deny anything had ever happened. She vowed to herself and braced her body for the run, even though it was something she hated at school, Sophia knew she was fast and got ready to run.
Pausing to grab a breath, Sophia willed herself, and raced into the cave, she remembered exactly where she had left her things. All Sophia had to do was grab them and run, not look at anything, nor acknowledge a ghostly figure standing in the room which she had done her best to forget since yesterday.
That was that she intended to do. Instead, the ground gave way and Sophia, now of habit just crashed to the cold stone floor, and immediately moved over to the wall
Instead of one figure, now stood three.
To be concluded