You Were: The Pet

August 21, 2010

You were a Roman aristocrat in the days before the city met Caesar. You belonged to a filthy rich family that had produced ten senators over two centuries. Five of those men had been poisoned. Two were found floating face-down in the Tiber. And one simply disappeared on his way home from the baths. The people responsible for the murders weren’t political enemies. They were the men’s wives, sons, brothers, and mothers. It was widely remarked that being a member of your family was the most dangerous job in Rome.

After your father died fighting for Rome, your older brother inherited the family’s sizable fortune. He was assassinated when you were eight. Your next oldest brother immediately went into hiding. But no one ever worried much about you. That’s because you were the brightest member of the entire clan. And the only one who knew how to play dumb.

You resembled a cherub well into your teenage years—curly golden hair and big blue eyes that watched the world with a vacant stare. (You’d managed to perfect this look early on by imitating the lemurs your mother collected.) You showed no interest in anything but lavish feasts, exotic creatures, and beautiful togas. Your mother (who’d had her eldest son murdered) considered you more of a prized pet than a child.

But behind the scenes, her pet was making arrangements.

With your one trusted servant acting as your agent, you had begun building a private army of soldiers. They were never given the name of the person who paid them in gold each month, only told that they would be contacted when their services were needed. Who knows what they might have thought if they’d discovered their mysterious employer was a cherubic young boy. But they were shown such generosity and kindness over the years that you slowly earned their unwavering devotion.

Meanwhile, on a tiny island in the remotest corner of the Aegean, a palace was being constructed. It boasted lush gardens, a private zoo, and baths that were fit for the gods. The only thing it lacked was a means of escape. The island was the most beautiful prison on earth.

You tried for years to locate your older brother, hoping he could be persuaded to return to help banish your mother. Unfortunately, she found him first. When word arrived in Rome that your brother had died, you took official possession of the family fortune. Your mother was thrilled. Her “pet” would never question her spending. She could empty the coffers while he lounged on his lazy butt, drinking wine and flirting with the slaves.

But that very night, your private army was called into action. They pulled your mother out of bed and rounded up all of her cronies. While Rome slumbered, the most despicable members of your family were loaded onto a boat  that sailed at once. The men at the oars had each been given a fortune in gold and told never to return to Rome.

In the morning, the citizens of the city were surprised to see a serious young man strolling through the forum, dressed in simple but elegant robes. His face was familiar to all, but only a few recognized him at first. When at last his name had reached every ear, a hush fell over Rome, as if the whole town were to shocked to speak.

That stroll was your only announcement that your family had changed for good. And it was the only announcement that was necessary. Five years later, you were one of Rome’s most respected senators. You never married—though your life was certainly not without love—and made your wisest nephew your heir.

Before you died, you told him a secret. Should any members of your family be born with your mother’s murderous genes, there was still a lovely private island that was waiting to receive them.

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4 Responses to “You Were: The Pet”

  1. Liam Says:

    Sweetness!

    Thanks so much. This made my day, believe or not.

    Mostly because I didn’t die as soon as I could have.


  2. Oh come now. You were amazing in your past life (and probably this one, too)! Cherubic AND conniving? It’s the best of both worlds.

  3. Emily Says:

    Oh, you are SO right on this one!
    This is perfect for you, Liam!

  4. Jennifer Says:

    I speak from experience when I say that having a baby face and a personality that doesn’t match is excellent for sneakiness 🙂 Love this one!


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