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Huge congrats to Marie Marshall, one of our regulars who has had her book, Lupa, recently published.

The following is an excerpt from Lupa.

Late in the afternoon of our first day’s sightseeing, we approached the Colosseum. This was not my first visit – I had ‘done’ the place several times before – but I had not expected it still to be open; and indeed most people were coming out as we arrived. Again there was this impression of deference expected and given as we walked though the entry gate, I following him not quite like a Japanese wife, not quite like an Italian daughter, not quite as if I was with him. We walked right into the interior of the place, down below what was once floor level, and still he walked ahead. We came to what I felt was its very heart, as if we had found the centre of a maze. That was when he stepped aside into the half-shadow, and with a simple gesture motioned me to stand a couple of metres away, opposite him. A shaft of reflected light fell across my legs, and my ankles felt warmer than the rest of my body. Vittorio said nothing, but stood there. He looked around easily, looked up at the sky, looked again at the walls. For a moment only his gaze fell on me, and I felt a breeze nibble at my shoulders at the same time, as if conjured by his look. Then he turned his head away, looked more downwards, and gently crooked his left hand round his right wrist. He stood almost as if in prayer, and that seemed as it should be, because one of the deepest shadows on the ground was cruciform. I looked up to check what was throwing it, and found that two metal bars rested against each other, across the small space that was open to the sky. They did not form right angles against each other, and though this made it plain that they had fallen together not by design but by accident, they seemed – this is the only word I can use – perfect.

Vittorio stood silently. What I could see of his expression was somehow sorrowful, even penitent. It was the face of a man who had broken some sort of rule or code by being here. At least, that’s what the expression said to me. But I too felt as if I was breaking some sort of rule by looking at him, and I stopped doing it. Instead, I looked down at the shadow on the ground, and as I stared at it, I became aware of how quiet everything was. So I strained my ears to hear some sound of the city outside, but found that I couldn’t. The breeze that had chilled me a few moments before had gone, and the air hung. Did we stand in a still pool of something that was outside time? The silence was utter, and at that moment ten thousand ghosts walked by, making my neck prickle.

Then the breeze came again, the moment had passed. Faintly, I could hear the city again. Vittorio and I looked at each other. His face was no longer penitent; in fact there was a calm, almost blank expression there, too gentle, too subtle to be satisfaction, but to me it meant that we had truly shared something. Without a word being said, we turned and retraced our steps all the way to the entrance, and into the reality of the city.