The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

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Chapter Thirty-Four: Drawing Conclusions

July 2023
Morgan’s Home
Richmond City, Virginia

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

Closing the door, Morgan steps into the living room, making sure Andy didn’t leave anything behind. The only thing left is a small stack of notebook paper with colored ink drawings on the coffee table. Picking them up, Morgan wonders why he didn’t take them since he’d packed up everything else on the table. She holds them out to Wahya who motions for her to look through them.

“You’re just wanting more kisses for your artwork,” Morgan teases, as she takes a seat on the couch, expecting to see random pictures of things Andy and Wahya had simply thought of off the tops of their heads.

Taking a seat on the floor, Wahya sits with his back against the coffee table, watching her slowly flip through Andy’s drawings first. In amazement, she begins to see an explicit and touching story emerge through the very rough, but explanatory comic book style artwork. Knowing her sister’s family drama well, she’s taken aback by the youth’s story depicting Andy’s dad walking out on them. Showing their once happy family of four, the scene changes to Andy’s parents fighting and his mother crying. Then, a saddened Andy as he watches his father walk out the door. She finds the page a bit disheartening and wonders why in the world the soon-to-be second grader would be drawing this instead of something more lighthearted.

The next page of pictures shows Andy’s little brother, Curtis, with huge, painful-looking ears, crying at what she assumes is the doctor’s office, apparently getting his tubes put in today. The following scene shows Curtis and Jessica happily holding hands. Jessica’s car and a large rectangle building with the familiar hospital cross on the front of it are featured in the background. Andy surely was expressing his hopes that the surgery was going to go well today, and Morgan smiles at her young nephew’s thoughtfulness. Flipping the page, Morgan’s heartstrings are pulled extra-tight as the entire page consists of one wonderful scene - Andy, Wahya, and herself in their stick-figure glory, all smiles and baking cookies with ginormous chocolate chips.

She giggles, and Wahya peeks up to see what exactly she’s looking at, then chuckles in return. The next couple of pages are more random, showing Andy riding his bike, going to school, and playing ball with Curtis. She smiles through each scene, reminiscing about when her oldest nephew was born, and how happy that baby had made everyone a mere six years ago.

Setting Andy’s drawing aside, Morgan gives Wahya a twinkling smile, knowing the next pages, in black ink and a completely different style, must be his drawings. Wahya gives her a soft smile in return, and she can’t help but think that he wants her to see these for a reason beyond mere fun or for the kisses she expects him to ask for. As soon as she realizes that he’d followed Andy’s storytelling format, she becomes further intrigued.

The first block shows what she assumes must be Wahya’s family and his village. His people are a little more filled out than Andy’s stick-figures, giving a more definitive idea of men versus women and the old versus the younger. The houses are oblong, dome-shaped structures with small doors, confirming the idea that Wahya lived in the historic past.

There are two men standing on the far left and right of a group of four people. Laying on the chest of the man on the right, she notices a tiny oval with two dots, and a smile crosses her face, “Wahya, this one is you!”

She angles the paper so he can see from his position on the floor, pointing to the gorget in the drawing, and he, in turn, points to the one he wears now, then at the man in the picture and smiles, nodding appreciatively, “Wahya.”

Getting up from the floor, he seats himself next to her on the couch so they can share the drawing, and Morgan rhetorically asks, “Does this mean you actually had the gorget before, in your own time?!” Shaking her head, “Maybe I’m overthinking this, and you just drew it so that Andy would know it was you since you’re wearing the gorget here.”

Instead of going down that road just yet, she decides to see if she can verify who the other people are first. There are two women next to one another in the picture, one obviously older than the other. The older one stands next to Wahya, and the other is standing closer to the other man. Could the pair on the left be his mother and father? Siblings? Or maybe a sibling and their spouse? She assumes - or rather hopes - that neither woman represent Wahya’s wife or girlfriend.

She reaches back into her mind for the word for mother Wahya had taught her last night when he was looking at her photos, and points to the woman with darker-shaded hair, asking, “Tsatsi? Mother?”

Wahya perks up significantly, “Vv vv! Agitsi!” He points to himself, “Wahya. Agitsi.”

Slightly confused by Wahya’s altered pronunciation of the word, she’s still pretty sure she understands his meaning - the younger woman is Wahya’s mother! Proud of herself for drawing the right conclusion, Morgan leaves the couch to retrieve a picture of her own father with her mother from the bookcase. Surely the other man in Wahya’s drawing is his father. Sitting again, she points to her mother and repeats the Tsalagi word, then points to her father and tells Wahya the word in English, prompting him to give her the Tsalagi word. Then pointing to the man in Wahya’s drawing, she suggests that he represents Wahya’s father. Receiving a buoyant affirmative from the brave sitting next to her, Morgan laughs happily, feeling like she was getting somewhere for a change.

Finally, Morgan points to the older woman, repeating the word for mother. Wahya thinks for a moment before finally nodding and pointing to his father, then back to the woman. Morgan nods enthusiastically, “She’s your father’s mother - your grandmother!”

Excited to learn about Wahya’s life, she turns to the next page. But, her elation is soon dampened as she studies the scene. Wahya’s mother is lying down and covered with a blanket. She frowns as the other three standing nearby, also looking sad. In the background, others lie down in similar fashion to his mother, with more unhappy villagers. Recalling how plagues and famine have swept through many small civilizations historically, wiping out many, she continues to study the picture in dismay.

Her tragic assumptions are confirmed in the following picture featuring only Wahya, his grandmother, and father, all still very unhappy. His mother is gone, and the village is crossed out.

“Oh my God, Wahya!” Morgan looks pained as she tries to tell him how badly she feels for him as she voices her assumptions. “There must have been an illness that hit your village, taking a lot of people, to include your mother! You lost your entire village! I’m so sorry, Wahya!”

Wahya, unable to understand her, simply points to the next page. Here he’d drawn an image of himself in the forest with a large rabbit nearby, and she assumes he’s showing that he is hunting. The scene just below this depicts another, more angry man, also with a bow and arrow, looking towards Wahya. To her horror, Morgan determines the arrows pointing in the air at Wahya, aren’t figurative arrows at all, but are, in fact, real arrows - as in the weapon kind - and that he’s being shot at.

“God...,” She murmurs, unable to take her eyes off the page, her apprehension increasing as she takes in the next scene on the following page. Three other Indians chase Wahya, shooting arrows in his direction. They are on top of a flat piece of land that ends in a steep ledge with trees down below, and Wahya’s character has jumped over the edge and into what she can only assume is a ravine.

Quickly moving along to the adjoining image to continue the harrowing story, realization hits her with force. Here Wahya stands happily smiling next to another somewhat shorter person sporting a smile of her own and much shorter, un-shaded, or light-colored hair and glasses. The gorget is in her hand instead of around his neck, and her Jeep Renegade and rectangular house are in the background.

“That’s me!” Morgan fingers the drawing in awe. Then more to Wahya, “This has to be when you went through the time warp - right between running away from these guys and then meeting me! No wonder you were all dirty and scraped up - you were running for your life!”

She flips to the final page and Morgan’s mood becomes somber as she feels humbled by the pleasant image of Wahya, Andy, and herself spending the day together - cookies, coloring, books, and all. How trivial her life feels in comparison to the hardships and recent trauma of Wahya’s life laid out in front of her!

She’d felt Wahya watching her intently the entire time, and now she looks him in the eyes, sorrow and understanding, yet hope written in her expression.

“God, Wahya. You’ve really been through a lot!”

At this moment, she realizes that this is ten times the information that she’d been able to get from him in three days. She lets out a small, embarrassed laugh as she rubs her forehead against her palm, “Do you realize that a six-year-old boy figured out how to effectively communicate with you in only a few hours, while I’d been going around trying to make up sign language all this time! God, I feel stupid!”

Laughing more truthfully now, Morgan waves the paper in the air, a weight having been lifted from her shoulders at the implications and excitement of what drawing out their thoughts could bring. She jumps up, motioning for Wahya to stay put.

“Wait right there! I’m gonna go get my notebook and we’re going to try this out!”

As she scurries down the hall, Wahya hears her swear under her breath suddenly remembering, “Crap! I’ve got to call the club!”

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