by Zoja Skubic and Lara Fučik
Your grandma always wanted you to take up collecting stamps, but luckily to no avail, you weren’t a child in 1857- thank you very much. They seemed to have some weird fascination with it too, always making sure they were safely tucked away on sturdy oak shelves.
“I know you don’t want to go honey, but they said they needed help and they’re funding the shelter. Okay look, you don’t have to do it for them, do it for me,” your mom pleaded.
“You’re lucky I love you,” you responded shoulders sagging in defeat. You’ve been at it for an hour and your eyelids were droopy and basically sleeping standing up.
“Thank you!” she beamed, her curled locks flying around her smiling face.
“Oh and I’m taking the car,” she added. You groaned and nodded before heading to the door.
On your way to the bus stop you were caught by heavy rain out of nowhere. You quickly ran to the stop and waited for the bus to arrive.
After 10 minutes the bus was finally here. “Finally,” you sighed and waited for it to stop.
It was only a 15 minute ride to your grandparent’s place, so you put in your headphones and enjoyed the look of rain drops sliding down the window.
You thankfully arrived pretty quickly, despite the heavy rain and because their house was just down the street from the stop, you could get there in less than a minute.
Your granddad was sitting on the porch, patiently waiting for your arrival.
“Hello, darling! We are so glad you’re here.” He said with a smile. “Come in, so you don’t catch a cold.” You greeted him back and went inside.
“Oh honey, you’re soaked. Let me grab some dry clothes for you.” She said with a concerning look.
“Thank you, gran.” You replied. She luckily still had some of your mother’s old clothes laying around in case you needed them.
After you were all warmed up and the heavy pouring stopped, your grandparents asked you to take a look at around the house for some stuff that was left here last time you visited.
“We have to go get some groceries, we will be back very soon, honey.” Grandma said standing at the door next to her husband. “Alright, see you soon.” You replied waving them goodbye.
After the door closed behind them, you began searching for your stuff. After a while, you were only missing your scarf. Luckily, there was only one room left. You rarely step foot into that room, since that’s where they keep their stamps displayed on the old oak shelves.
You open the door, turn on the small old chandelier in the middle of the room, and look around.
There was your scarf, laying on the side of the couch.
“There you are!” You said and picked up the scarf. Just before you turned around, something caught your eye.
The light was reflecting from a glass case, filled with perfectly arranged old stamps. It looked like they were sparkling.
There was more laying there below them, so you decided to look at them more closely. You grabbed the first one, that had a picture of an old roman structure on it. It felt strange to hold it.
Suddenly, the room started going dark. You stood completely still, not knowing what to do.
You didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on. Right after everything went dark, you started seeing sparkles everywhere around you.
The first thing that hit you was the smell.
“Salve, quid agis tu putas?” a tall broad man shouts your way, your back instantly folding in on itself.
“Excuse me?” you ask in a daze of confusion, opting for politeness.
How did you even get there- here? You look down at your hands and find that you’re still holding- partway crushing- the stamp with the statue and look around.
There are so many people everywhere. They’re all wearing blanket like colourful dresses and intricate hairdos, merrily conversing, children running about and tacky dressed performers doing dangerous acrobatic tricks. You look down at yourself and minus the confusion on your face you look just like one of them in a white dress- type of thing with an olive coloured cloth draped gracefully over your shoulder. Both were incredibly soft and thankfully light enough to let some breeze cut through the tortuous summer heat which was bouncing off of every marble wall that encased the city square.
“What on earth?” you mumble to yourself aloud looking around with eyes the size of dinner plates (I wanted to put the moon, but I don’t know if that’d get me sued)
You started wondering about hoping to find out more about your admittedly odd situation.
It seemed as if everything went quiet as a highly ornate chariot came about reverberating in the rapidly clearing path to let it through.
You were being pushed towards a bridge, finally settling right next to the fence of the bridge observing the ruckus which has sprung about around you.
Starting to settle into the crowd, your shoulders melting like fine wax, to accommodate heads and elbows, eyes at last relaxing, looking ahead when the lavish chariot came to a halt right in front of your face.
“Quantum pro theloneo- how much for the toll,” your brain provided. A man, tall, rather because of the air of importance; flowing around his body like a salient river, not daring to harm the fine stone it carved into a stout figure of power, instead of any real height.
A: pretend you didn’t hear anything (pg.2)
B: charge the toll (pg.3)
A: PRETEND YOU DIDN’T HEAR ANYTHING
You step back and train your eyes dutifully at the worn paved ground as if you were paid. Sure you understood Latin for a second, but that was probably a fluke. Even if you did there’s no guarantee that you could speak it.
Someone steps right through your back. Your hands fly to your chest to make sure it’s still there. The force you apply is completely unnecessary and instead of a light pet you end up grabbing onto your draperies.
B: YOU CHARGE THE TOLL
“Quinque auros,” you demand confidently.