The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

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Chapter Eighteen: Have a Slice of Hello and Thank You

July 2023
James and Samantha’s Home
Richmond City, Virginia

}}}-----> WAHYA <-----{{{

“Did he just speak in Tsalagi?!” Wahya is more than shocked, continuing to question his hearing, “Did he just say ‘hello’ in my tongue?! Or was it something else that just sounded like my word?”

Testing it out Wahya replies with his own greeting, “Osiyo [Hello]?”

James’ smile broadens, and he repeats the salutation again, this time extending his hand out to the surprised guest. Wahya smiles with a stupor of confusion but shakes James’ hand happily in return. Speaking in English again, James ushers both Morgan and Wahya inside.

This dwelling is similar, but slightly larger than the one Morgan lives in, and Wahya expects that several people live here as well. Entering the living room, there’s no one to be found, and James tells them to sit on the brown microfiber sectional sofa while he goes to the kitchen in search of beverages.

Upon his return, Wahya takes the glass bottle, smelling the slightly bubbly cold liquid he soon learns is called ‘beer.’ The flavor is crisp and unique and Wahya thanks James, hoping to hear more identifiable words. But James is talking to Morgan directly, obviously giving her some interesting information.

He feels slightly irritated at being left out, again wishing he understood their language. Learning languages of other tribes hadn’t been difficult for him in the past, and he decides to push his irritation away and use the opportunity to listen more carefully to their words to see if he can pick up on the nuances of their speech.

But it isn’t long before a door suddenly opens down the hall and Wahya forgets all about trying to learn English. Appearing in the hallway is a woman with the boldest auburn or red-toned shoulder-length hair Wahya has ever seen. She’s probably closer to James in age and has fair skin like Morgan’s.

Hushing the talking duo, the woman closes the door behind her and beams brightly at Morgan who jumps up from her seated position next to Wahya, rushing to give her a big hug.

Morgan squeals excitedly in as hushed a tone as possible, “Samantha!”

Wahya determines that no matter where they’re from, women-friends will greet each other in the same way, no translation needed.

After the two say their hello’s, Morgan brings their attention to the brave who stands as he’s approached. Samantha warmly shakes his hand, introducing herself and repeating his name. At that moment, James comes back from the kitchen again and hands her a glass, then puts his arm around her shoulders before giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead, which she leans into tenderly.

“They’re definitely a couple - probably married. I wonder if Samantha is related to Morgan,” Wahya surmises and wonders simultaneously.

But before he can think on it much longer, the trio pull Wahya into the kitchen where an interestingly delicious and warm, meaty, yet spicy smell emanates. Samantha hands out plates to everyone and Morgan is the first to open the lid of a pizza box, pulling out a few triangular slices of the flat and steaming food.

She hands the food to Wahya, taking his empty plate and filling it with a few slices for herself, all the while talking to Samantha and James. Looping her arm through his, Wahya is surprised by Morgan’s touch as she leads him back to the living room, where she pulls them to sit side-by-side on the couch.

Wahya internally shakes his head watching Morgan from the corner of his eye, “See, there she goes again, acting like we’ve known each other since we were children - nothing shy or awkward, nor really flirtatious. Just friendly - yet I can’t help but find it appealing.”

Bringing him back to the moment, his stomach grumbles and he follows suit, copying Morgan by setting the hot plate on his lap, then picking up the almost too-hot slice of meat-lovers pizza, taking a small bite off the tip of the triangle.

He’s never tasted anything like this and can’t help himself, speaking as he continues to chew, “Mmmm! This is delicious!”

Morgan smiles as he hungrily takes a second bite, obviously translating his actions and glad that he likes the pizza. The foursome settles into a quiet moment, satisfying their hunger before James eventually begins speaking to the group. Wahya attempts to pay attention, determined to listen for repeated words that he can memorize, when James pulls out a piece of paper. Then suddenly a word he recognizes surfaces again - but not in English, in Tsalagi!

“Wado.” James says, directing the singular word at Wahya.

“What?!” Wahya stops chewing, recognizing James’ “thank you” in the Cherokee tongue. James turns to Samantha, and upon his request, she hands him her plate, a confused expression on her face. He, in turn, nods to Samantha in obviously exaggerated politeness, while eyeing Wahya and repeats, “Wado.”

Understanding dawns on Wahya - James is demonstrating his own understanding of the word, ‘wado,’ attempting to use it through action to make a point. He was thanking Samantha for handing him the plate!

“Vv! Vv! [Yes! Yes!] Wado!” Wahya swallows his food hurriedly, as he expresses his excitement.

The entire group breaks out in smiles and cheers, and Morgan claps her hands together, patting Wahya happily on the shoulder, genuinely thrilled.

“Where did you learn my words?” Wahya asks James once the commotion dies down.

Unfortunately, James doesn’t really know the words Wahya says, but surmises enough to understand the question, standing to show Wahya the few words he’s written on the paper, pointing and reading them aloud. Most are the same animals that he’d already taught Morgan and James earlier, with the addition of ‘Hello’ [Osiyo], ‘Thank you’ [Wado], and a very poorly spoken translation of ‘Farewell’ [Didayolihv dvgalenisgv].

“It’s a start,” Wahya thinks as he nods approvingly at James and provides the proper pronunciation of the words. “This means there’s someone else in this world that knows my language!”

Unable to communicate further with the new words, they all continue to have their fill of pizza and beer, and Wahya relaxes back on the couch, wishing he could participate in the deep conversation the other three seem to be having.

Morgan suddenly touches his arm, pulling him from his thoughts and asks with her hands if he has his stone gorget. It’s still in his pocket and he stands to pull it out to show her, after which she politely inquires through words and actions if she can hold it. He gives it to her, not feeling as reluctant to let her hold it as he had before.

“Wado,” Morgan smiles back at him, their fingertips barely brushing against each other as he passes her the heavy pendant.

The sincere use of his word on her lips makes him smile and she blushes in return - somehow their ability to effectively communicate one new simplistic idea bridges the gap between their differences a tiny bit more.

}}}-----> MORGAN <-----{{{

It was the first time since they’d exchanged names this morning that Morgan felt like she was really talking to him and less like playing Charades or simply exchanging translations. This time it felt different and the spark of mutual understanding within that deeper level of communication, along with the appreciation of it in Wahya’s expression, makes her blush suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Cherokee, that’s the language Wahya speaks! Wahya is Cherokee!” Morgan repeats in her head, so happy that his people are still thriving and the language is a living language, therefore giving them a better chance of being able to communicate with him! James’ little test in which he demonstrated that he wanted to thank Samantha for handing him her plate by using the Cherokee word for ‘thank you,’ told them that they were on the right track.

Thank goodness James’ genius-friend in the Math Department isn’t only a mathematician, but a master of foreign languages she also thinks. And while he didn’t recognize their few translated words as being Cherokee specifically, he did think it sounded Native American. So, with the help of the Internet he and James were able to use the phonetic spellings to match up all the animal names Wahya had given them with real Cherokee words.

Where they go from here was the next question on everyone’s mind. Besides finding a Cherokee dictionary they all agree that finding someone who actually speaks Cherokee would be the most helpful. But they’re hesitant about how much they want to bring anyone else into the mystery of Wahya - at least at this point in the game. Though a Cherokee tribal elder or leader would probably be their best bet Samantha had suggested.

But introducing him to modern Cherokee people would only create further questioning as to why he didn’t know English or anything about 21st century living. It wouldn’t take someone from his own culture long to know that something was off, and none of them wanted Wahya to be taken away by uncaring government officials or scientists in pursuit of time travel answers.

Bringing herself back to the moment at hand, Morgan holds up the stone gorget artifact for Samantha to see. She wants the expert archaeologist to see the item that’s been so important to Wahya since he first laid eyes on it.

“So, Dr. Clark called me from Mexico first thing this morning and told me a farmer in Redwater brought this in last week wanting to know more about it. I was actually on my way back to my desk from getting it out of Dr. Clark’s office when Wahya came through the wall.

“Long story short, when I went to pick it up off the ground after dropping it in the collision, Wahya saw it and literally snatched it from me like I stole it from him. I mean, he was totally angry with me for a minute! And he hasn’t wanted to let go of it ever since. He’s just starting to trust that I’ll give it back to him. Technically, at some point I’ll have to take it back ’cuz the farmer will probably want it back; it’s his property after all. And I’m not so sure how that’s going to go with him...” She cocks her head towards Wahya, who’s seemingly oblivious to her conversation about him and the artifact, despite his eyes watching her as she talks.

Samantha carefully takes the artifact from Morgan, turning the object over, obviously puzzled by the mystery, “Redwater is just west of Richmond City and Cherokee did live around here historically before the Europeans arrived, though typically further west. Maybe it looks similar to one he had before?”

“That’s what I thought, too,” Morgan interjects. “But he really looked at this like he knew it was his. I tried to take it back at first and that didn’t go over well, so I’ve just let him hold onto it to keep the peace.”

“Yeah, he was pretty panicked when he thought he lost it, too,” James chimes in. “He accidentally left it in the lab coat Morgan gave him to wear when I took him to change into my gym clothes. The look of relief on his face when we found it was like if he’d found a lost heirloom.”

Samantha shakes her head perplexed, “I wish I knew more about Native American archaeology off the top of my head. I know in England there’s certain objects that are supposed to have magical properties - oftentimes made of stone.”

James nods, “Yeah, like the famous Neolithic legend that talks about magic stones and what many believe were either premonitions of future events or even time travel.”

Samantha smiles, a twinkle in her eye, “That’s where we got Melia’s name from. It’s our favorite of the legendary poems and was written by the healer Melia, huh, sweetheart?!”

“Well that, and it’s an old family name from a few generations ago,” James acknowledges as he gives his wife a loving squeeze and a light kiss on the lips.

The couple smile sweetly at each other, obviously in love, and Morgan smiles, laughing softly, “Nothing says sweet nerdiness like two professors naming their baby after a Neolithic healer from a legend! It’s a good thing ‘Melia’ is a pretty name!”

Just then little baby Melia lets out a wail, and Samantha sighs deeply, though her face says she’s thrilled about being a mom as she glows with pride. Breaking from her comfortable and obviously familiar position under James’ arm on the couch, she motions to Morgan, “Wanna come help me settle the little legend?”

}}}-----> * <-----{{{

Cherokee Words to Know:

Hello = Osiyo
Farewell/Until we meet again = Didayolihv dvgalenisgv
(many Native American cultures/languages, to include Cherokee, do not have a word for ‘goodbye,’ and instead use a term more like this instead.)
Thank you = Wado
Yes = Vv
(just a reminder - it’s pronounced more as a nasally sound and not so much like the letter ‘v’ in English)

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