By Giedre Baranauskaite
I would love to say I woke up, but that would mean
that I had actually slept . All will never have to experience it, how their children never never will. And I thought of how they treat night long, I wondered what other people thought about the night before their death. Their families? Moments of their life? Well, I thought about death. I thought about the people who claim to protect us but actually throw us into a huge arena and force me to kill innocent men to save my own skin. I thought about how they will never have to experience it, how their children never will. And I thought of how they treat it as an honor to fight and as a day of good family entertainment.
I glanced out the window. It was still early and only slaves were awake. What a cruel twist of fate made me envy them. I was born a rich Roman citizen, destined for great things. But my father was not a careful man. He loved gambling more than he loved his own children. When the debts began to pile up and angry people were knocking on our door, he decided to save himself. He brought me to the gladiator. I was 18, old enough to know what was going on, but still he tried to present it as a great adventure.
"Don't worry,son. You just train hard and I will
come and find you as soon as we can pay of those debts, I promise" Both he and my mother had tears in their
I knew my father was lying. I knew that I wasn't going
survive, but I'm not the kind of person who goes don without a fight.
So I threw myself into my training. My first fight was
against a 14 year old boy. He was weak, inexperienced and untrained. It was aquick fight and I tried to do my best to give him some peace in his final moments. At least he wasn't in pain. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for me. That night I was inconsolable . He was just a boy. What kind of cruel people would want him to die? And the people even cheered when he died. Guilt and disgust doesn't even begin to cover what I felt then.
I learned very quickly that emotions such as those
weren't an option. The Romans loved a good show, so I had to give them just that. I couldn't wait to get out and ask my gather why he did that to me. And I wanted, no, needed to take my mother and sister away from him.
I guess all that anger inside me made me a better fighter because I won my second fight without any real
The gladiator I was fighting against this time was an
older experienced man who had won many fights, but I was the favourite of the crowd. He wasn't used to being booed and having rotten fruit thrown at him. I felt sorry for him. To see a strong, proud man so broken down with tears running
down his face was terrible, but I knew there was no room for friendship. I madethe final lunge towards him and stuck my sword into his chest. The crown roared and people threw roses at me. All I remember was the man whispering " I forgive you". And my revulsion with this sick,twisted group of
And now I was about to face my third and final fight.
Losing wasn't an option, not when I was so close to
A slave opened the door and brought in warm water,
soap, a mirror and a comb. Another two slaves carried in a huge hamper of the finest food. I guess they wanted their gladiators to look good. Especially as the emperor and his daughter were coming.
I thought of Ariana. We had grown up together. When we
were both children, she would force me to play with her dolls. Then I forced her to play hide and seek with me. Whenever I caught her, I would tickle her until she giggled. |I remembered the first time she was allowed to pin up her
hair and I remembered her beauty. I remembered her crying and laughing. I also remembered the time she told me that she would marry no one but me and I laughed at her and said that it wasn't her decision to make. Not long after, I
came here. She would be sixteen now, beautiful and the most desired bride in the whole Empire. I wanted to hate her and her family, but I couldn't.
I washed and ate a little. I didn't want to eat too much.Hunger made men angrier and an angry man was a better fighter.
Outside, I could hear people gathering. As the minutes
went by, the crowd got louder and louder.
Once I couldn't stand sitting any longer, I got up and
paced my small room.This had been mine for the last three years, but it still looked exactly the same as it had been when I first got here. The crowd was getting louder and louder.
A slave came is and led me down the corridor.At the end
of it was a small room with only a table in it. On the table were my weapons. A short sword. I had hoped for better, but it could have been worse.
I grabbed. I looked around for armour, but there was
none. I guess I would be fighting without.
" Please let whoever I'll be fighting be human..." I
whispered again and again as I walked into the
I waved to the crowd and smiled when they started
chanting my name. Only I would know the amount of effort it took me to put the smile on my face.
I glanced at the emperors box, right ahead of me. To my
disappointment, the emperor was on his own. He looked pale and tired,and there as pain in his eyes. So much pain caused bythe desire for entertainment.
Only then did I glance glance across the arena to see
whom I would be fighting against. To my relief, It was human. Or more precisely, two humans. I quickly calculated my chance of survival. Slim...But still possible.
The emperor signalled for the fight to start and I braced
myself. The two men moved quickly, too quickly. But one was faster and I turned my ttention to him.What I didn't know was that the slow one wasn't actually
I didn't even get a chance to react. I felt someone crash
into me and I was falling to the ground. I thought quickly about my chances, wich was about 1percent. My only hope was the emperor. The three of us looked a him,the men hoping for a thumbs down and I hoping for a thumbs up.
Even if I was saved, I wouldn't be free until I won three other fights. But at least i had a a chance.
ror was about to give his verdict when Ariana
entered. Our eyes met quickly and she blushed. She was even more beautiful thanI had remembered. Or imagined. She sat down beside her father and began whispering in his ear. He nodded and turned his attention to the little frozen
tableau of life and death.
He raised his hands and slowly turned his thumbs....Up. I
breathed a sigh of relief and the men moved away, disappointed not to have won. i kelt in front of the emperor who nodded weakly and left.
The slaves arrived and brought me back to my prison
I sunk down on the floor and buried my face in my hands.
My shoulders felt as heavy as if they had the weight of the world resting them. I would never get out of there. I had already lost one fight, I could easily lose another one. And then no one would save me. I was doomed. I would never be able to ask my father why and I would never be able to ask my father why and I would never rescue my mother and sister. And I would never be able to marry Ariana. That was the hardest to bear.
I looked down at the floor in despair. There was a small
piece of folded up paper.
You are free to go, no matter what happens. Meet me under our cherry tree on Monday.
Your mother and sister are safe with
I had to read it a few times to understand, but when I
did, I felt the luckiest man on earth. And perhaps I