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Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

While Marcus Lucius was in rather dark, gloomy mood accompanied by letdown, Julia dreamt about stars. She was always impressed by the Greeks introducing the heavens as a great, solid dome, which could be forged of bronze with fixed, heavenly constellations. She wanted to look at the Titan Atlas, who stood either beneath the axis of heaven in the far north, in the land of the Hyperboreans and had to spin the dome around upon his shoulders. Atlas was responsible for the rise and settle of stars. When she looked at the night sky, she remembered all legends and stories about gods and heroes, about their actions and their fates. She wanted to move and stay somewhere over the rainbow, on a lonely star without any connection to stories about heroes or monsters who received a place in heaven in memorial of their deeds. She appreciated the value of reading the stars as an aid to navigation and looked to the night sky with hopes to find the guidepost. Stars, the tiny, little, sparkling points on the night sky, were like a map within other patterns and motions of the celestial sphere that guided people through the sea of life. She needed a guide who would tell her how her journey might end. She wanted answers or at least a reliable forecast. If she could jump through the time zones and see what was going to happen in two weeks or three months or where she would have been in a year, she would calm down. If Mercury, the speedy messenger god, revolving around the sun, would take her on a ride for an eye wink, she could maybe see how Marcus Lucius’s fate was combined with hers. She wanted him to be somewhere around her, like the twelve constellations of the zodiac were in a direct proximity of each other or like Andromeda, the princess of Ethiopia, and her mother Cassiopeia, the beautiful wife of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia.

What Julia didn’t know, all humans are made of stardust. It sounds like a line from a poem, but there is some solid science behind this statement too: almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star. After the Big Bang, tiny particles bound together to form hydrogen and helium. As time went on, young stars formed when clouds of gas and dust gathered under the effect of gravity, heating up as they became denser. At the stars’ cores, bathed in temperatures of over 10 million degrees C, hydrogen and then helium nuclei fused to form heavier elements within the reaction known as nucleosynthesis. Carbon was made of the dead stars, so we all are made of dead stars. Julia was nearer to her wish than she ever expected.

In the early morning hours, shortly after sunrise, everything was already prepared. Marcus Lucius wasn’t able to sleep, so he arranged the entire preparation. Octavian and Nerva met him while he gave the last orders to Cornelius’s soldiers. He wanted Julia to come back to Naples safely.

Before he left, he checked whether she was already awake. She stood some meters away from a small window, on the other side of the fireplace. The fire played the last time and the last of the wood had already turned into ashes. She wore the same dress as the day before. She looked tired, but somewhat happy. He assumed she was already enjoying the thought of going back to her family.

-I’m leaving as you wish. – He said and Julia was stunned about his neutral tone. It was a clear statement without emotions. She wondered how he could switch off his feelings and came to the conclusion that he apparently didn’t have so many feelings for her. It was obvious to her that she had been persuading herself of another reality, another truth and that it had to stop. Marcus Lucius was not so different to Octavian, who continuously showed his lack of emotions. Marcus Lucius gave up the role of the lovely husband. That was reality.

She wasn’t able to say any goodbye. She didn’t want to show him how much she cared for him, if he didn’t care for her at all. The thought that he was free made her sad, but it was too late to change it. He should live in good and health. He should be saved and never look back at the time spent with her. She didn’t know why it was so hard to let him go. It was supposed to be so much easier, happier, faster. She didn’t say a word and just nodded like a nodding dog.

He didn’t step forward to look her in the eyes. She thought it was better, because he wasn’t able to see her tears appearing already on her surface. Suppressing her tears was painful and exhausting.

Marcus Lucius didn’t come closer, because he wasn’t sure whether he could look her in the eyes and simply leave. He was still confused and so not convinced about behaving in the right way. Everything seemed to be well-orchestrated and correctly ordered. However, he had a feeling he was still missing a crucial detail.

It wasn’t a convenient situation. Neither Julia nor Marcus Lucius felt well and both weren’t sure what to say or how to handle it. Finally, Marcus Lucius left the room and out of the corner of his eye, he saw how Julia fell down to the ground. She smiled, so she wasn’t hurt or injured. She seemed to be relieved and satisfied with the goodbye scene. He hushed and went out to the troop of legionnaires who were going back to Appius.

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