Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Master's Wall (final version)

Here's the final draft of The Master's Wall. Compare this version to the one you all edited below. Note the differences. What do the differences teach you?

Rome, 76 A.D.

David tried not to cry, tried not to breathe or make a sound as he crept along the dark street. Careful not to trip on the flat stones, he recalled how that morning he'd taken this same path, chasing friends between the alleys, pretending they were gladiators fighting at the Circus Maximus. Now again he followed the enemy. Only this enemy was real. There were three of them. And they had taken his parents.

Mamma. Abba.

He wanted to shout out their names, to cry out to them.

He could still feel Mamma's hand in his. Could feel her letting go as the soldiers pulled her away. Could feel her stola ripping as he clutched it. All he had left was the shredded fabric from her dress still in his hand.

How empty his hand felt now that she was gone.

He made a fist. All he had in the world. Snatched away. And now their lives might depend on him. On what he would do at this moment. He was just a child, a boy. What could he do? He'd follow them, see where they were taken. Then he could get help. Manius would know what to do.

Voices carried off the mud-brick apartments. David pinned his back against a wall. A shadow moved and he glanced down. A rat scurried across the large stones through the empty street. He released his breath, only then realizing he'd been holding it.

Slowly, he peered around the wall. His fingers quivered as he gripped the brick. Three soldiers towered over his parents in the small street. They looked like giants. Giants with horsehair crests on their heads. Half human, half animal.

One burly monster hurled Mamma forward. She stumbled, but caught herself against Abba's back and clung to his tunic. Abba helped her up and held her against him, but another soldier jerked them apart. These soldiers treated his parents like slaves, like common criminals. They weren't any of those things.

The soldier brandished chains in front of Mamma's face, laughing. Her eyes widened, and David knew she was scared. He'd seen Mamma scared before when he'd come home late one day. She had that same look in her eyes. She'd knelt in front of him and pulled him into her trembling arms. "David. How could you do this to me?" David's stomach had hurt because he'd frightened her. And now, he felt the same way. But what could he do?

The soldier chuckled as he knelt to bind her ankles, while another soldier held her from behind.

Abba would do something. He had to save Mamma. But now Abba's arms were bound behind his back.

The man's large hands locked the shackles into place on Mamma's ankles. He then ran his fingers up Mamma's leg, pulling her stola up to reveal her thigh. "Nice."

"Let her go!" Abba pushed away from a soldier with his shoulder and lunged forward. "She has nothing to do with this!"

The third soldier rushed over, grabbed Abba and held him back. "Oh, really? That's not what we heard." He motioned toward the man touching Mamma. "Aulus, shouldn't convicts pay the full penalty for their crimes?"

"Oh, yes." Aulus smiled and continued to touch Mamma, to touch her in places David had never seen Abba touch her. The man's big hands on her body made her look small, helpless.

Stop. David clenched his teeth. Stop it right now.

The burly soldier's hands ran all over her, frightening her.

Someone had to stop him. But no one else was around to help.

No one but David.

"Get away from her!" David ran straight for the soldier.


  1. Yes, it sounds better. My little mouse button got a lot of use going back and forth comparing the two versions. Thanks for your help.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Janet. I'll put up a detailed explanation of why certain passages worked, against why the previous ones didn't. Kind of a "before and after" comparison. I think that will make it easier, rather than making our mouse overworked and tired. :-)