READY TO GO... My name is Erik. I miss my home so much.

Right now I am trapped here in Vindolanda, a Roman fort which was meant to protect the wall. It is huge and soldiers are everywhere marching day and night. I wish I knew what is behind that wall. Unfortunately, I am almost sure I will never come to know. I am just a slave. I was born somewhere in Saxony at the border with the Empire. When the Roman cohorts headed for England, I was captured and brought with them. I was forced to learn some words in Latin so that I can understand what they tell me or at least what they want to tell me. I have just woken up in my filthy hard bed. I have no spare clothes so I wash myself in my improvised bath. I still feel sleepy. I didn't have enough time to sleep during the night. I was suposed to carry water and food to everyone living in this fort. However, now I am heading to my master and wait for orders. He tells me we are going to do the usual thing. I am dismissed with a wave of the hand so I turn and go back to my room. The usual stuff means that we are going to supervise the gates of the fort. There are many merchants who are trying to get in the fort without paying the entrance fee. My master usually collects this money. Although I can not understand their language very well, I can count. I realised that many times he takes a smaller amount of money about which he never tells anyone. All merchants display a sly smile and vanish. He might know, but I don't think he's going to punish me since he knows I can't tell anyone even if I wanted to. After spending the whole day standing at the entrance my legs are aching horribly. I trudge towards the fort and I see all the young children playing. There is also my master's daughter and my best friend. He is a slave too. He pulls a face knowing that I will understand that gesture. I nod and I go into the chambers of my master and prepare dinner. I hear him snoring after a few hours. Perfect! I know I can leave without being noticed. I tiptoe out of the room and meet my friend near a bush. We do this all the time. When I hear him speaking my language I feel less miserable and I somehow know there is still hope. The very next morning I fail to wake up in time. I find myself alone in the room. I immediately realise I am in trouble. The last time I was late for work I was whiped till I started bleeding. I still remember the whip cutting through thin air and landing on my wounded skin. I shudder. I hear someone calling my name. I turn around and I feel blood draining from my cheeks. I hear my master saying that we are leaving. He says he must go to the Rhine for it needs extra defense. Realisation dawns on me. This is my chance to escape. Finally...

Valentin Boboc, 10 R

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