Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Collapse LXXXXVI: Cameo Appearance

May 6th, 20XX+1

Dear Lucilius,

Surprise! Today’s letter is not from Seneca. Instead it is from me, Pompeia Paulina (I understand now that this is how Seneca refers to me. He won’t tell me why he refers to me this way, just that he does).

Seneca has told me about his writing to you, even after the Internet went down. I insisted he show me all of the letters – the fact that someone would be so dedicated to something that may not be published was interesting to me. It took a bit to read – gracious, that man can seem to go on about almost anything at length! Once I finished, I insisted that I be allowed to write to you as well. He seemed a little bit reluctant – “You have never met him” and things like that – but I convinced him that if the letters were not going through anyway, what is the harm?

(I am absolutely sending the letter out if we ever get electricity and Internet again)

So it seems you have met my daughter Statiera before you “met” me – Xerxes (why he insists on these names, I have no idea) is a very nice young man and very good to my daughter. I know you know how Seneca met me – how did I and my daughter end up here?

A love of silence and beauty, mostly.

I came from Arizona originally, where I grew up and lived for many years. And I loved it there: the sunsets, my large family of parents and sisters and nieces and nephews. I would go to places like Sedona and Tucson as often as I could to see the sunset and rocks and feel the energy of the places. It was so…redolent of Nature as it should be, not like it was in the city.

My daughter and I moved here a few years ago – I think it was a few years; I’ve quite lost track and then with everything shutting down, it seems a little silly to think of it now. The city had just become too confining and both and she and I were in a place in our lives that we needed to escape and find room to breathe. We drove through here on a trip from one place to the other; the beauty of the Valley and this quiet, sort of broken down town appealed to me. And so we ended up staying.

I was a masseuse for many years and as a masseuse, it is pretty easy to take your job with you. I made an okay living here – not like I did at home where I worked in a top rated destination hotel, but enough for the two of us. My daughter’s life calmed down. My life calmed down. We kept a lovely garden and watched the seasons and for time, just got to enjoy life.

And then everything else happened.

I am sure that I must have seen Seneca before – even in a town that in some ways was dying, it was still small enough that I should have seen everybody or at least heard of him. I knew his house, of course – everyone did: the small red Summer cabin that someone from down South had completely gutted and refitted with the greenhouse and the garden and whoever lived there practicing with a sword outside all Spring, Summer, and Fall. But people respect privacy here, and will not intrude unless asked. And it seems like Seneca never asked.

I am so very glad my daughter’s boyfriend insisted he come for Palm Sunday brunch.

He seems so isolated, Lucilius. In our conversations and even when we discuss books or goings on, there is something down deep that I cannot fully see. Being a masseuse, you come to learn to feel the energy of people, the places that are hard physically and psychically. I am sometimes not even sure if he himself is aware of it, or how it impacts his life. It is a stoic, lonely sort of thing, and it seems to cover him almost like a velvet cloak of sadness.

But he does seem willing to at least talk a little bit more about his struggles. He is willing to listen to suggestions about things – silly man, he still has a lot to learn about gardening here. And he has his rabbits, which are delightful friends, and bookshelves and bookshelves of books which he claims that he is will to talk about. We certainly do not lack for conversational items.

I do like him, Lucilius, an awful lot. Be sure that I will take good care of him.

Warmest regards, Pompeia Paulina


  1. Nylon124:39 AM

    Aha TB! A twist in the Collapse saga, sort of turning a diamond to see how the facets affect light. Good post.

    1. Thanks Nylon12! This was a little outside my typical wheelhouse, as multiple point of view characters are not my strength. Good to know it came out enjoyably.

  2. A nice way to start my daily reading.

    Proverbs 18: 22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.

    Though I doubt that Seneca is fully aware of the plan. :-)

    1. Thanks Michael!

      Seneca is, I suspect, vastly unaware of all of this. Like many men (including myself), everyone is aware of the outcome except him.

  3. Anonymous5:27 AM

    I enjoyed this new installment TB. The lady friend has winnowing ways… a masseuse as an opposite sex friend would be difficult to drive away. I’m glad Seneca has found romance to fend off the loneliness which accompanied his isolation.


    1. Thanks FNB. Writing from more than one point of view is a challenge for me.

      Truth be told, Seneca does need someone a little more in his "age bracket" as a companion. It seems like he has been by himself far too long.

  4. Oy, the power of the search function

    Pompeia Paulina was the wife of the statesman, philosopher, and orator Lucius Annaeus Seneca, and she was part of a circle of educated Romans who sought to lead a principled life under the emperor Nero.

    Curiouser and Curiouser said the Chesshire Cat as he slowly faded from sight until only the GRIN remained.

    1. Seneca may be a bit more sentimental and romantic that he likes to let on.

  5. Has an author been looking deeply into a mirror? :-)

    Proverbs 18:22
    A good wife is a blessing,
    she is a gift from the Lord.

    And many other scriptures both old and new testaments.

    Might be a reason for that eh?

    1. I can neither confirm nor deny. I do think Seneca is a bit more of both than I am.


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