To say I’d been looking forward to this class was like a TOTAL understatement. Archaeology was my passion! No. Archaeology was my LIFE! I’d never forget the day I saw the movie Simsiana Sones and the Sanctuary of Death. OMG! Right then, I knew I wanted to travel the world. Seek out new discoveries! Study ancient civilizations!
And when I got a full graduate scholarship to THE University of Archaeology, my destiny was set in literal stone.
Dr. Day’s Archaeology Masters 1 class was renown as the ultimate weed out course, but EVERYONE had to take his class at this school and pass or get kicked out. Sigh…I had nervous jitters just listening to his welcome speech. I mean, he didn’t LOOK like the student assassin everyone said he was.
“Oh my word, Charlie,” my friend, Susan Sabatini whispered next to me. “Dr. Day just said we have to go on a jungle expedition this semester. I thought that was next YEAR! I don’t think I’m ready. What if he hates my research project? I’m doomed!”
I rolled my eyes. “Look, Susan, haven’t you heard there are three things you need to do to keep Dr. Day happy? One, do your homework. Two, come to class. And three, never EVER mention his long lost girlfriend, Ginny Malcolm.”
“Long lost girlfriend? I’d never heard about her. What happened?”
“Are you serious? Everyone who goes here KNOWS about it. His girlfriend was some archaeology genius. She was the one who found the golden llama sarcophagus in Al Simhara and she was still an undergrad! Her parents were archaeologists, too. But then one day she went off with them on some quest and THREW herself into a volcano. It’s all so romantic and sad.”
“Oh my GOD! That’s awful! Why would she do something like that?”
“Well, I heard that when she was a little girl, a mermaid saved her life, but her days were numbered. The mermaid told her she could only live until she found true love.
“Once she got serious with Dr. Day, that was it. She started feeling sick and so rather than slowly die in a hospital bed, she threw herself in the volcano, never to be heard from again.”
“That’s so unbelievable! Mermaids? Curses?” Susan shook her head.
“Hey, I’ve heard of some crazy stuff going on with these jungle expeditions. There are actual spirits living in the ancient temples, so I don’t doubt it. But still…about Dr. Day– I hear that he often locks himself in his office and literally cries over Ginny’s picture EVERY DAY!”
Just then someone cleared their throat behind me. I looked up and to my ungodly HORROR, my stomach plunged ten stories. Professor Day was glaring down at me. I almost screamed!
“Could I see you in my office after class, please?” he asked in a tone my foster mothers used when I was totally fricken in the hot seat.
Shaking, I squeaked, “Um…okay?”
Oh geeze. I felt like I was in the principal’s office back in high school (and let me tell you, I did my time there on many occasions–could I help it that I’d run my mouth more than once–yeah, like it seemed I’d never learn) only this was WORSE! This guy had my future in the palm of his beautifully manicured hand. (The man looked so meticulous like I bet his bed was always made and nothing was out of place anywhere in his life–well, except for that horror story about his girlfriend. OMG!!!!!) And ohhhh…there was a picture of him and Ginny still on the wall.
I wanted to pat his hand and tell him it would be okay right then, but gah!
I was in trouble so I held my tongue.
He just stared at me, glaring, making me squirm. Was I supposed to say something?
I decided he did want me to talk so I obliged. “Okay…so like…I’m sorry, Dr. Day. I should have been paying attention in class. I guess I was just so excited about being here and…” I trailed off, blinking.
The look he gave made me feel like a child. I mean…I was apologizing! What was I supposed to do? Give him my left arm or something?
So, I went on, “and like…I’m sorry I said anthing about Ginny. It was insensitive of me. I won’t ever mention your tragic story again or gossip or do any of those things that might make you mad….um…s-sir, but…
“I guess it just means I’m really interested in you as a person that I would care so much about your history. I mean, that’s what we archaeologists, do. We dig into people’s history.” I chuckled at my own joke. “Ha ha…get it? History? People? Ha ha…”
All that did was make him purse his lips.
Ugh. I was dying. My face grew hot and I wanted to crawl out of there under one of his Selvadoradan bowls. “Oh, God, I guess that was lame.”
Finally, he spoke, “Listen, I just want to make myself clear here since we’re going to be spending at least an hour and a half, three times a week together as well as you’ll be going on the jungle expedition which I’m sure you didn’t hear about because you were spinning fictional tales about me. The project will be half your grade. And if I think you’re not taking my class seriously, I will bar you from even going on that expedition. Do I make myself clear?”
Okay. I was dead. Totally dead. I could have been one of the mummies they kept in the basement at this college. “Yeah…I…um…I get it. Sorry. Yeah…” I was dying and cringing and quivering all at once.
When he didn’t say anything more, I excused myself and basically slithered to the door.
Once I was safely out of his office, I hit my head. How could I be so STUPID? He hated me! Already! The one professor that could make or break all of my dreams!
Well, from now on, I was going to impress him with my talent and knowledge. I mean, not many people could get a full ride to this school. It was hard enough just to qualify. Maybe he’ll forget all about this rough start. I could only hope and pray. UGH!
It never ceased to amaze me how the tall tale grew over Ginny’s disappearance. I had to chuckle. How the kids ever got wind that Ginny had met a mermaid when she was young was truly beyond me. Probably one of the other professors told one student and then that somehow worked its way into the rest until it blew out of proportion.
Looking at Ginny’s picture, I asked, “Was I too hard on her, honey?”
The kids weren’t wrong about one thing–I did lock myself up in here–not everyday, but a lot, and I’d think about her. Maybe I didn’t cry. Those days were over. I’d cried enough in my life to last forever. Losing my baby sister, Brandy, was the hardest thing I’d ever faced.
But I could go on with Ginny by my side. And then the emptiness could never be filled once she disappeared. It was like a weight would forever be on top of me, suffocating.
How I missed her. No one could come close to the special person who was Ginny Malcolm. And since I’d never find anyone who loved life as much or more than her, why even bother finding someone else? I’d given that up long ago. And I was reasonably happy with my life. I threw myself into my work. At least, I knew Ginny would approve of my success.
I’d never forget the day we both decided to come to this college right after we graduated.
It was my idea and when I said it, she beamed up at me and told me how proud she was of me. We both had 4.0’s in our college classes. Studying was easy when she was by my side.
And when I asked her to marry me right there on the swing set, she told me she’d follow me anywhere in the world.
It was the best moment of my life.
“Oh, God, Ginny,” I whispered. “I wish you were here.”