This chapter reveals the Ordinary World of the hero, Simone Unger.
Chapter One: Babies, Marriage, and Mycenaean Greece
“This is what you have been reduced to? Leaving juvenile threats like a jealous teenager?!” Simone shouted as she walked into Terry’s tent.
She advanced on Peter Baines as if she'd like nothing more than to rip off his head and shit down his neck. In her hand was a piece of paper that she was waving so wildly it came within inches of Peter’s nose.
He backpedaled as fast as he could to avoid a paper cut but ran into a table which stopped his progress. At the last minute Terry, Simone's boss, snatched the letter out of her hand and physically got between her and Peter.
“Simone, back off,” Terry said, physically pushing Simone back.
Simone only had eyes for Peter. She was breathing hard from her anger. If looks could kill, which at this point she really wished they could, Peter would now be dead on the ground instead of giving her that smug look. Just because he's friends with Terry he thinks this will blow over, Simone thought. She finally tore her gaze away from Peter and looked at Terry to make sure he wasn’t right.
Terry looked pointedly at Peter and ignored Simone questioning stare.
“Peter, what is this? Explain yourself.”
“Now wait just a minute, Terry, I have no idea what you are talking about. Explain what?” Peter took a step toward Terry and attempted to yank the letter out of Terry’s hand.
“No, I think I will just hang on to this for now. ‘We are tired of warning you so now we must take action’,” Terry read from the note. “Did you really write this? How about ‘by the time you read this the wheels will already be in motion to put you in your place’?” Terry stared pointedly at Peter with a mix of disappointment and disbelief on his face.
Peter was getting hot under the collar. Simone saw his face begin to turn red and the veins of his neck and forehead were beginning to pulse.
“You have absolutely no proof whatsoever that I wrote that. I bet that your little Simone has stepped on a few toes on her illustrious rise to the top. I'm sure if you ask around you will find more than one archaeologist who shares those sentiments.” Peter adopted another self-satisfied expression.
“You mean shares your sentiments?” Simone questioned angrily. “It's no secret that you resent my abilities. Jealousy has a way of clouding one’s judgment.” Take that you asshole, Simone thought as she crossed her arms and began tapping her foot in impatience. She let her own little smile of superiority play on her face.
“Resent your abilities?!” Peter sputtered, nearly choking on the words. “The only thing I have resented is how many people have been blinded by a pair of tits and a swaying ass.” Peter was rounding on Simone as if he was going to throw a punch.
Simone was preparing to return one when Terry slid back in between them.
“Simone, I told you to back off. Let's not make this any worse.” Simone glared at Peter for a few seconds, shrugged her shoulders, and then took a few steps back. She wasn't about to let her guard down though.
“Peter, I'm ashamed of you,” Terry began.
Peter poked Terry in the chest which stopped whatever else he was going to say.
“Again, you can't possibly pin this on me. There is nothing tying me to that note and you know it.”
“Peter, had this note been here before you arrived Simone would have brought it to me immediately. Plus, you are the only archaeologist besides Simone who has been in this camp.” Peter acted as if he was going to interrupt but Terry's raised hand and steeled expression apparently stopped him.
Simone started to smile in victory but immediately stifled it. Terry was right; don’t need to make this worse. I can gloat later.
“Whoever wrote this considers themselves equal to, or better than, Simone. That implies another archaeologist. Whether or not it was you, Peter, I think it’s time you left and let Simone get back to her job. There’s too much bad blood now between you and I don’t need her distracted.”
Peter stood there for a couple of seconds looking back and forth between Simone and Terry.
“So much for friendship,” he said at last and purposely knocked into Simone's shoulder as he walked past.
She thought he whispered you wait as he passed her but she couldn't be sure. And she didn't want to borrow any more trouble so she just ignored it.
“Terry, this is getting ridiculous,” Simone began after Peter was gone.
“Simone, you bring most of this on yourself and you know it. You are pigheaded, stubborn and you insinuate yourself into everything, everywhere, all the time. Maybe if you were a little nicer to other people they wouldn't feel so threatened by you.”
“I'm nice to the people who are nice to me, Terry, and that hasn't been a whole hell of a lot of people. Look, I'm good at what I do and part of the reason for that is because I'm not nice. Nice gets you nowhere in this job or in life. You of all people know that.” Let him argue with that, Simone thought and crossed her arms defiantly once again.
Terry just sighed and shook his head.
“Simone, what I know is that there is a difference between being tough and being contrary. In this job you need toughness.” Terry didn't look at her as he passed by to put the note in his desk.
Simone was speechless for a few seconds as she digested what he'd just said.
“Are you saying I'm contrary? That I’m a trouble maker?” Simone was sure that her mouth was hanging open in surprise at his words. Her eyes were probably just as big but she didn't care. Terry had never spoken to her like this before. She had always thought that he respected her both as an archaeologist and as a person. Now she wasn't so sure.
Terry walked up to her, put his hands on her shoulders, and finally looked her in the eye. She saw friendship and compassion there but didn't really feel it in his words.
“Archaeology is a dog-eat-dog profession and everyone has to work double hard to get paid even a modest wage. That's no reason to always assume everyone is out to get you, though. You strike first hoping to preempt anyone attacking you but nobody is after you.”
Simone just looked at him then gestured toward the desk where he had just stored the threat.
“Okay, now someone may be after you but it wasn't like that in the beginning.”
Simone shook off Terry hands and headed toward the tent flaps.
“I am what I am, Terry. People hire me because of the job I do, not because I'm sugary sweet or the girl next door. Nowhere does it say I must play well with others.” With that Simone stalked out of the tent leaving Terry to once again shake his head.
* * * *
“Let it go Simone,” Jennifer said when Simone had gotten back to the actual dig site. Jennifer Cotton was the historian on Simone's crew as well as her best friend and confidante. They had met while in college and despite their many differences had struck up a fast friendship that had lasted throughout the years. Jen was always the voice of reason and the level headed one so Simone tried to stay in her company as often as possible. No matter what she told Terry she was aware that conflict tended to follow her. Most of the time Jen got it right but Simone felt that this time she just wasn't seeing the big picture.
“You don't get it Jen. He has been bad-mouthing me for the last year and a half. Now he's leaving threats in my tent. I think he was hoping to get me fired this time.”
Simone had sat down next to Jen when they first started talking but now she was up and pacing.
“Simone, sit down. You aren't going to solve anything by pacing the ground into a trench bigger than our dig site.”
Simone grudgingly took her advice and sat down with a heavy sigh.
“Listen, Sim, as long as bosses don’t believe any of this garbage then it really doesn't matter does it? What did Terry say anyway?”
Simone sighed again.
“I'm not really sure. He said I bring most of this on myself because I'm not nice enough to other people in the field. But really-”
“Simone, you aren't,” Jen interrupted.
Simone responded with the same shocked expression she had used when Terry said that.
“I thought you were my friend,” Simone said.
She got up in a huff and started to walk away.
“Like Peter thought Terry was his friend?”
Simone whirled around and looked at Jen half confused and half angry.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Peter thought Terry would take his side because of their friendship. Is that what you want, for me to blindly take your side because we’re friends? You may not always like it but you have always gotten the brutal truth from me. Are you saying you no longer trust my judgment?”
“Of course I'm not saying that. You know I trust your judgment. It's just that-” Simone stood for a few minutes trying to decide what to say next and running through her last two conversations in her head. Eventually she plopped back down next to Jen and sighed for the third time.
“Shit, I just don’t know anymore.” With her elbows on her knees Simone rested her chin in the palms of her hands and stared at the hole in the ground they were excavating.
Jen put her arm around Simone's shoulders giving her a little squeeze.
“Sometimes you just lose sight of things, that's all. You have gotten so caught up in the politics of the job that you forgot about the actual work. Remember, I've been with you every step of the way. There are a few who can't accept when someone is better than they are.”
“Like Peter?” Simone said, in a childish, temper tantrum voice.
“Yes, “Jen snickered “just like Peter. But not all of them are like that Simone. You just have to get to know them.”
“But I'm not like you, Jen. I'm not good with small talk or making nice with people. Why do you think I work with thousand year old artifacts? Regardless of how I deal with the actual people how do you suggest I deal with the threat?”
“I'm not truly a people person either, Simone. I just know how to play the game better than you do. And I wouldn't worry about the threat. Would Peter have even been here if it wasn't for the fact that his old friend Terry was in charge? Forget the note, forget the threat, and forget anyone who is jealous of your success. For the most part they are all professionals. Learn how to play the game and you will get along just fine.”
“I just don't know what to take seriously anymore. We should be working together and yet they seem to be out for blood, MY blood specifically. “
It was one thing to be the daughter of John and Susan Unger and the protégé of Herbert Lind but that didn't make her a good archaeologist. Only by working in the very trenches she now supervised was she able to prove that she was more than just a name. She had hoped that by proving herself people would respect her more. So much for hope, Simone thought as she contemplated Jen’s words.
“Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously,” Jen said with a laugh as she jumped back in the trench. “Speaking of taking things seriously, how are things with you and Kevin?”
Simone watched as Jen went to work. She was brushing the dirt off a clay tablet they had found earlier. She knew her friend was purposely avoiding looking directly at her. Simone grabbed a brush and jumped in beside Jen before answering.
“Couldn’t be better, actually. Why do you ask?”
“You haven't turned down one single job offer no matter how mundane and un-noteworthy it was. You have had us hopping from one continent to another, often doubling up on jobs. “
“Your point is?”
“My point is what are you avoiding?”
“I'm not avoiding anything. What are you talking about?”
“Simone, what's going on?”
“Nothing is wrong, I just like to work that's all. Is there something wrong with enjoying my work?”
“Simone,” was Jen’s one word reply. She certainly had a way with tone. It wouldn't matter what she said as long as she said it in that tone of voice. Simone was reasonably certain that Jen could probably even get the government to tell the truth about the JFK assassination if she asked in that tone of voice.
“Okay, okay. Everything is not fine. But it's not exactly bad either which is why I haven't said anything.” Simone sighed heavily before continuing. “Kevin has been hinting around again about marriage and kids. It's no big deal really.”
“Oh, I see. And you're still against it?”
Somehow working in the dirt with things that had been buried for centuries always seemed to calm Simone so she kept working as she talked.
“I'm not exactly against it; I just don't think this is the right time. This kind of work isn't exactly conducive to pregnant women. And really, what kind of mother would I be if I left my newborn home all the time while I trotted around the globe digging up thousand year old artifacts?”
“You wouldn't have to work as much after the kid was born, you know that. And you could always do the less dangerous work, just to keep current. Stuff you could take the kid to when it's older.”
“I know,” Simone began, but Jen cut her off
“Other archaeologists have kids and they do just fine.”
Jennifer had uncovered the tablet she had been working on. The lower left corner was still somewhat buried but the top half was completely out of the sand now and most of the words could be seen.
“What the hell?” Jen asked under her breath.
She was brushing sand out of the etchings with a puzzled look on her face.
“What is it Jen? What'd you find?”
Simone slid over beside Jen so she could get a better look at the tablet.
“Why would a Mycenaean tablet be in Egypt?”
“Mycenaean?” Simone asked in a tone that matched Jen’s expression. “Isn't that some form of Greek?” Simone leaned in to get a closer look and nearly bumped heads with Jen who was doing the same thing.
“Yeah, spoken mostly in Crete and the mainland from, like, the sixteenth to the twelfth centuries BCE.” Jen was brushing more sand off the tablet as she was talking, getting a better look at the writing. “It's mostly found in Knossos on tablets just like this, but not here. It's like one of the oldest, if not the oldest form of Greek ever known. This is really odd.”
Simone started looking around at the other pieces that were only barely uncovered. Not all of them were tablets.
“I wonder if the rest of this stuff is Mycenaean too.” She began to brush sand of the nearest artifact. It looked to be a nearly intact piece of pottery with writing and symbols of its own. Some seemed painted on while others seemed etched like the words on the tablet.
“Get a load of this!” Simone said as she continued brushing.
Jen came over to take a look at what Simone had uncovered.
“Symbols and text? Pots like these were mostly ceremonial in nature and usually just depicted whatever ritual it was used for. From the looks of this we might actually have the words of the ritual along with the images of its practice. I think we've hit on something big Sim!” Jen could barely contain her excitement and Simone was finding it contagious.
Most of the digs she had ever done in Egypt had something to do with a pharaoh. They were family members of a pharaoh, slaves of a pharaoh, enemies of a pharaoh; always something having to do with a pharaoh. This, however, was very different. This is the sort of stuff archaeologists live for!
“I think it's time to get Terry and see what we've really got.”
* * * *
By the time it had gotten too dark to see without better lighting than what was on site, they had uncovered six more tablets, four complete pots and what seemed to be the remnants of at least a dozen more, as well as some other vessels whose purpose they couldn't readily identify yet. Simone had sent the last of the student workers back to their tents for the evening and was securing the site for the night when a messenger from the main camp came running up breathlessly telling Simone she had a phone call.
“Take a message. I need to finish up here so we don't lose any ground overnight. Tell 'em I'll call 'em back.” Simone turned back to the corner of the tarp she was securing, signaling the end of the conversation. Or so she thought.
When she walked around to secure that last corner the messenger cleared his throat. Simone stopped and turned toward him.
“He said he wouldn't take no for an answer and I was to get you on the phone if I had to drag you by the hair back there.” The poor messenger looked like he was going to pee his pants having to say that.
She took pity on him, partly because of the awkwardness of actually having to say that to her and also because they both knew he would never do it.
“All right, don't get your panties in a bunch. Let me tighten this corner and I'll be right behind you.”
All the way back to the phone, Simone was trying to figure out who could be on the other end. By the time she got to the receiver she had narrowed it down to two possible choices. One was Kevin and the other was some kind of repercussion for her earlier confrontation with Baines. Neither option sounded overly appealing at the moment but since she'd finally gotten past the Baines incident, as she was now calling it, she was almost hoping that it was Kevin.
“Hello?” She said tentatively into the phone.
When Kevin's voice came back to her she nearly let out an audible sigh.
“Hey Sim, how's it going?”
Kevin's voice sounded tired but chipper. Then again, Kevin always seemed to be chipper, even when he was beyond exhaustion.
Simone could never quite figure that out and it was one of the many reasons she fell in love with him in the first place. No matter how bad things got for him he always had a pleasant word, or many, to say to her. That pleasantness helped raise her sour moods. Or at least it used to.
“Oh you know same old same old. Actually, we uncovered some pretty unique artifacts today. They appear to be Mycenaean so Jen doesn't think they belong here. Could be an interesting mystery we are beginning to unravel. How about you?”
“Nothing new to report here. Other than I miss you terribly! But nothing as interesting as finding Mycenaean objects where they shouldn't be.”
Though it sounded very tongue-in-cheek and something like a backhanded compliment, Simone knew it was Kevin's way of being cutesy. It used to be endearing but lately it was grating on her nerves. Simone sat in the very second hand, slightly padded arm chair that someone had installed next to the phone, for those longer conversations. She had a feeling this was going to be one of those longer conversations.
“Oh yeah, before you hear about it through the grapevine, I had a bit of a confrontation with Peter Baines this morning.”
Simone braced herself for the tirade she figured was coming but was moderately surprised by the reply.
“Simone, are you rocking the boat again?”
“No Kevin, I'm not rocking the boat again. Why do you always assume it's my fault? Must I always be the bad guy Kevin? Can't you be on my side just one time?” Here we go again, she thought.
She was really getting tired of this same old argument.
“I'm not saying you're always the bad guy, Simone. And I do take your side, all the time in fact. All I'm saying is that you have a tendency to take things way to seriously, to be, what's the word I'm looking for, aggressive maybe? Or maybe defensive would be a better word.”
“What do you mean defensive or aggressive, really? Do you even know me Kevin?”
He began laughing on the other end of the phone which served to further irritate her. She was seriously contemplating hanging up on his laughing ass.
“Simone, calm down. Listen to yourself for a minute will you? If that's not the perfect example of defensive and aggressive I don't know what is? Look, all I'm saying is try to be a little nicer to your colleagues and they will be nicer to you.”
“Peter Baines won't. You know he won't.”
Simone was beginning to calm down a little, but now she was in pout mode.
“Peter Baines is a jealous asshole, Simone. The rest of your colleagues are more talented than he is and by far smarter. They won't be jumping on his band wagon and you know it.”
Simone sighed heavily again.
“Take your job seriously but not yourself,” Simone said to under her breath.
“Just some words of wisdom from Jen. She thinks I take myself too seriously too. Why do I suck at this people person business and why does it come so easy to everyone else? And why do I even have to? I work with inanimate objects for Christ's sake that have been buried for centuries. They don't care if I'm aggressive or defensive.”
Kevin was laughing again and Simone couldn't tell if it was at her or with her. But since she wasn't laughing it couldn't really be the second one right?
“Sweetheart that is one of the many reasons why I love you!” Kevin said through his laughs. “Look, don't sweat it. Everyone knows Baines is a big baby. No matter what he said or did, nothing is going to change for you and that is what is important. Your reputation cannot be tarnished by someone whose own reputation is so stained. Just do your job in your undeniably Simone Unger way and you'll be fine.”
Simone laid her head on the back of the chair, closed her eyes and sighed deeply before answering Kevin.
“Why do I always let these things get to me? I really wish I could be more like you and Jen. Then I would know just what to say to people and exactly when to say it. I'm a bumbling idiot when it comes to interacting with live creatures. I can't even keep a plant alive, what does that say about me?”
She was starting to get whiny, which meant she was also getting tired. These were not good combinations for her.
“It means you are very focused and dedicated to your work. It's not a bad thing, Simone, it really isn't. And if you were more like Jen or me then you wouldn't be you. And you are who I'm in love with. Not Jen or a carbon copy of myself.”
It was times like this when she wondered why she had such an aversion to marrying this man.
“Jen says I need to learn to play the game. That deep down she really isn't a people person either, she just pretends to be. Is that all it really is, a game with rules that can be learned?”
“Well, yes, to put it bluntly it is a game. I am a people person. I enjoy being around other people and carrying on meaningless conversations. I just like being in the company of other people. Some people, like Jen, don't particularly care for being in the company of others, at least not lots of others, but she has learned what it takes and can pretend. People like you absolutely hate being around other people. You hate idle chit chat and meaningless conversations. Even you, though, could learn to participate enough to fool most people.”
“Yeah, right. This is me we're talking about here! Look up 'stubborn as a mule' in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of my face!”
Simone was only half joking. She truly did hate idle chit chat but she hated fighting with everyone more.
“Yes, Simone, you truly can. And I'm going to prove it. When you get back I'm going to throw you a birthday party.”
“Oh Kevin no!!”
“I know, I know, you hate birthday parties, but it's the perfect opportunity for you to practice pretending to like other people.”
“Can't we start out with something-” her voice faltered for a moment. “Else?”
Simone didn't mind turning one year older; she just hated the fuss everyone made over what really amounted to just another day. But society demanded that one be gracious and accepting when repeatedly being asked how it felt to be one year older and given gifts one would probably never use by people one only knew by sight. These parties weren't for the birthday person anyway; they were just a way for everyone else to justify having another rowdy party.
“Like I said, this is the perfect opportunity. Everyone will be there for you so the conversations should be easy.” Kevin was actually sounding rather smug and proud of himself.
“Like anyone is going be there for me, they will only attend because you asked them to and because it's a party.”
That defensive tone had crept back into Simone's voice and even though she could recognize and acknowledge that, she didn't really care just now.
“Simone, why do you do this? Talk about always assuming the worst.”
Kevin's voice was becoming exasperated, which Simone could also recognize and acknowledge but she wasn't sure if she actually cared right now or not. She let out another big sigh.
“I've just hated being around large groups of people for so long it's really hard to change that thinking. It's getting late and I have lots of work to do tomorrow. Maybe we should just say goodnight.”
“Yeah, you're probably right. It's been a long day for both of us. Things will probably look better in the morning after a good night’s sleep. At least that's what they say isn't it?”
There he was again, trying to be the optimist and make her at least smile, if not laugh. She laughed, hoping it didn't sound as forced as it felt.
“See, it's not so bad,” he said in response.
Maybe I can pull off this pretending stuff, Simone thought. She actually allowed a real smile to play across her face for a brief moment.
“Okay Kevin, I'll talk to you later. Sleep well.”
“I will, and you too. I love you sweetheart.”
“Love you too Kevin, even if you are throwing me a lousy birthday party.”
“That's my girl! Talk to you later.”
Simone replaced the receiver and leaned back in the chair. She rubbed her heavy, tired eyes so hard she thought she might just push them out the back of her head. She loved Kevin, that wasn't in question. But she seemed to be annoyed with him a lot lately and finding so many little things about him irritating. And not just fly buzzing around your head irritating. More like fingernails on a chalkboard irritating. Was this the universe’s signal that she shouldn't marry him? She walked back to the tent she shared with Jen and found her friend sitting in a fold-up chair just staring at the sky.
“Looking for shooting stars?” Simone asked as she reached into the tent and pulled out a chair to join the sky watching.
She wasn't exactly in a sleeping mood anyway, despite how tired she was.
“Just thinking,” Jen said, somewhat distractedly. “My initial examination of those artifacts tells me they are definitely Mycenaean and dated from right around the thirteenth century BCE.”
Jen trailed off for moment so Simone thought she was waiting for a response.
“You already knew that though, so what's really got you pondering?”
Jen took her gaze from the stars to Simone with a small grin playing at the corners of her mouth.
“Well, most of the tablets that have been recovered to date are mostly lists and inventories, things of a pretty mundane nature. My Mycenaean Greek is pretty feeble but it's good enough to tell that these aren't inventories. I haven't yet figured out what they are but they are more than lists.” Jen's eyes had begun to gleam while she was saying this, getting wide and excited.
“Do you have any idea what they are then? Even a rough estimate?”
Simone was beginning to catch Jen's enthusiasm again.
“Actually, I'm wondering if they aren't some sort of prose narrative, a surviving Mycenaean myth or something. That would be the find of the century if you ask me. Most of what we have from the Mycenae culture is day-to-day living stuff. We have nothing of their myths or legends. No poetry or prose telling us what things they thought were important. This would just be truly amazing to uncover.”
Simone's mind was now racing as fast as Jen's. Not much was known about the Mycenaean Greeks. It would definitely be awesome to find information specific to their civilization but to find it here, in Egypt. Something big must have happened and they were on the cusp of finding out what. This is why archaeologists do what they do. There was nothing like holding in gloved hands something that hadn't been touched in centuries. Now they were holding things that nobody even knew existed.
“Heard you had a phone call, was it Kevin?”
Leave it to Jen to bring her back to reality and break her from her reverie.
“Yeah it was. He's throwing me a birthday party when we get back.”
Simone waited for the burst of laughter she knew was coming. She wasn't disappointed.
“A birthday party?! On purpose? Is he trying to get you to break up with him?”
Jen was no longer looking at the stars wistfully but at Simone incredulously.
“Actually, I think he is trying to help me take your advice.”
Simone leaned forward on her chair, as much as she could without it tipping over anyway, and looked solemnly at Jen.
“What do you mean my advice?”
“You know the stuff about pretending to be a people person so things work smoother. He seems to think that's a great idea and getting a bunch of people together to party and saying it's for my birthday is his idea of practice.”
“Yeah, I figured you'd like that idea, too.”
“I don't know if ‘like’ is really the right word but, I do understand his sentiment. You can't learn this kind of thing through books; you need actual hands on training. A birthday party is actually a good place to start. I know, I know-” Jen said when Simone was about to interrupt. “Just hear me out. Despite what you say people will be there to wish you happy birthday, which means idle chit chat. But because you are the birthday girl most people will keep it short. So you get to practice idle chit chat with people who actually want to talk to you but don't want to talk for long.”
“Yeah, I know, but what if I don't wanna practice?”
Jen laughed again.
“Simone, stop whining. You just don't like it when you're not in control and you are totally not in control here. I think that is your problem when he talks about marriage. He didn’t, did he?” Jen's not-so-clever attempt to shift the subject didn't help because this subject was not any better.
“I know I'm whining dammit, but I'm entitled. I hate parties in general, I hate birthday parties specifically and I hate parties for my birthday worst of all. Don't I get to whine and bitch a little? And no, Kevin is too smart to throw fuel on the fire. Marriage and kids never came up.”
“Simone, it really is for the best that you at least learn how to pretend to get along with others. And you know that we will be there to help run interference. It won't be that bad, I promise. And if Kevin is smart enough not to bring up marriage and kids after throwing you a party against your will maybe he isn't such a bad catch.”
“I know. He's a really great guy. A little misguided sometimes but overall really great. So why am I fighting against marrying him so hard?”
“You know what I think?” Jen began as she started to pick things up and head inside. “I think you are afraid that if you marry Kevin it will change you or that you will have to change in order to marry him.”
“Well don't I? Once I'm his wife I'm going to have to stay home a bit more, do less field work. I will have to attend more of those stupid benefit parties because I'm his wife. As his girlfriend it isn't as expected that I show up. And I already told you my opinions on having kids. How can things possibly not change if I marry him?”
Simone picked up her own chair and followed Jen into the tent.
“No, Simone, you're missing the point. Of course things change when you get married but who you are doesn't have to change. Do you think just because you marry Kevin you have to become Donna Reed or something? Nobody expects you to stop being you.”
Simone got into the shorts and tank top she wore to sleep in and was sitting on the edge of her cot looking at Jen who was sitting on the edge of her own cot still fully dressed.
“Maybe so but I still feel like everyone expects me to change who I am, become more people friendly and stuff.”
This last was an obvious dig at Jen who had suggested that course of action in the first place. To her credit Jen recognized it, and then ignored it. Simone was impressed.
“Look, if you don't want to marry the guy then don't. But don't make up excuses for why. Be a big enough person to say it’s because you just don't want to get married. Don't put the blame on Kevin, that's all I'm saying.”
Jen moved to get ready for bed herself and Simone contemplated her words. She waited until Jen turned out their lamp before she spoke.
“I guess I just need to look at things differently before I commit to anything one way or the other.”
Simone could hear Jen smiling, even in the dark.
“Good. Now let's get some sleep so we're ready to tackle Mycenae's role in Egypt tomorrow.”
“All right” Simone said with a laugh. “Night, Jen”
Simone fell asleep with thoughts of Kevin, marriage, babies, and Mycenaeans in her head. Needless to say, her dreams were interesting that night.
* * * *
Three weeks later Simone and her crew were no closer to answering the Mycenaean link then they were when they uncovered the first tablet. Simone had made an agreement with Egypt's Department of Antiquities, or really Terry had made the agreement on her behalf, that Simone and her crew could take the tablets and a few of the other artifacts to their office in the States and see what they could make of them. The largest majority of the find would remain in Egypt to be studied by Egyptian experts. Simone wasn't sure what Terry had had to promise or give to make this unusual event possible but she wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say. The fact that they were going to get to spend a few weeks analyzing all of this was priceless beyond measure.
All they could talk about as they flew back to the States were the possibilities of what they had discovered. Alternatives ran from ousted priests to attempts at Egyptian assimilation. Dillon, Simone’s young and naive apprentice, even suggested that Alexander's illustrious library was actually here rather than in Alexandria. Simone tried to participate in the discussion but her mind was mostly on the decisions she was going to have to make in the near future. By the time the plane landed she was no closer to an answer then her crew was.
Maybe if I just bury myself in work for a week or two the answer will come, she thought as she left the plane. If she had been paying attention to her surroundings, like she used to before her mind had become so cluttered, she may have seen him hanging out in the back of the crowd gathered to welcome the travelers home. If she hadn't been so worried about trying to avoid alone time with Kevin that she roped herself and the crew into unloading and beginning work that night she would have noticed him follow her out of the airport. If Simone had been focused on anything other than her own personal troubles she might have seen it coming.