Copyright © by Wakar, 1997
"I'm sure Jackson would be willing to wait one more day."
Janice suppressed a sigh and kept packing.
"You haven't seen Mel in a long time. Don't you want to?"
Janice kept her head down and focused on arranging the items in the suitcase. They'd had this discussion before, she saw no reason to have it again.
"They'll probably arrive today."
'They,' she thought and swallowed hard. If it had just been Mel who was coming, she would have stayed. But some unreasonable anxiety gnawed at her to get away, to run. Janice, though trusting her instincts regarding matters of archaeology, was not given to premonitions, but this . . . . She didn't understand it and she couldn't fight it. She only knew that something about this situation wasn't right.
"The plans are all made. I'm not going to change them," she almost shouted. She turned back to continue her packing at a frantic pace. The matter was not mentioned again.
Janice sat in the back up of pickup, leaning against the cab, her few pieces of luggage thrown in next to her. The day was muggy and hot and she temporarily removed her battered hat to wipe her brow. She saw Thomas heading towards her, carrying a jug of water in each hand.
"Gotta fill the radiator," he explained. "That leak's getting worse." Janice merely nodded and wished he would hurry. "Jackson says we can switch it for one that's on a wreck out at the airport," he shouted from under the hood.
Janice looked back at the tent that had been her home for the past 3 months. The goodbyes had been said, there was nothing left to do now but leave. For a moment the melancholia overwhelmed her. And she began the familiar routine, the litany of reassurances that her life was not changing irrevocably, that she would return, that everything was all right. And as always it didn't help.
She rubbed her fingers against her brow for a moment and wondered why she saw life the way she did: segmented, fragmented, little or no continuity. With every change, she felt that everything from the past was lost and her life must be started all over again. She supposed it might have something to do with losing her mother when she was so young, and being constantly uprooted by her father's changing jobs. Not to mention being hauled around the world to one dusty, grimy dig or another whenever she wasn't in school. She shook her head and breathed deeply. 'Well,' she thought, 'whatever the reason, it's time to start anew.'
Just then a long black sedan pulled into the compound. Janice froze for a moment then pulled the brim of her hat down to cover her face. But, unable to resist, she peeked out under the brim. The back door opened and Mel Pappas stepped out into the brilliant Agean sunshine. Admetus, the site foreman, walked over to greet them. They spoke for a moment then Admetus pointed toward the main tent. Mel noded then turned back to the car. Janice heard Thomas slam down the hood just as the other visitor emerged from the dark interior of the automobile.
Janice's eyes widened at the legs that seemed to go on forever. Then audibly gasped as the rest followed. Tall, tanned, dark hair falling over the shoulders of the sheer white linen dress, Melinda Pappas was easily the most beautiful woman Janice had ever seen. The young woman stood behind her father and looked with interest around the camp. And for a brief moment Janice was held captive by a pair of sky blue eyes.
The truck lurched forward and Janice was thrown to her knees on to the hard bed. Only then did she realize that she had been in the process of rising with every intention of jumping out of the truck. As she regained her balance and sat up she saw her father walking to meet Mel Pappas and his daughter. Mel Pappas was a true friend and one of the few 'respected' academics that still associated with her father. For that alone Janice loved him. As the truck rounded the bend, Janice's last view was of the three of them: Mel, beaming like a proud father as he introduced his daughter to the infamous archaeologist; Melinda, shyly offering her hand, and her father, smiling one of the rare genuine smiles that Janice ever saw. It was one of her favorite memories.
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