The Artifact (Book 2, Time Trilogy)

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Chapter Forty-Nine: Weekend Plans

July 2023
Richmond City University’s Medical Clinic
Richmond City, Virginia

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

“I don’t know what to say! If it really was a time warp that brought him here, then this is some sort of miracle!” Tracie Fischer sits back in her office chair, having just run through everything Morgan and James told her about Wahya. The forty-five-year-old wonders at the chance that of all the places they could have taken Wahya for medical attention, they brought him to her of all people. They really had no idea that she was Cherokee and could speak the language - though she still berates herself for not taking the language as seriously as her parents and grandparents had wanted her to as a youth.

Morgan sighs, feeling as if a great weight had been lifted and more relieved than she’d expected to be in confiding the truth, now that they’ve convinced the doctor that their story was true. Tracie had that professional, yet trustworthy and caring disposition that Morgan thinks surely makes her an excellent doctor.

“So now what?” Morgan asks no one in particular.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Tracie is the first to answer. “As for his health, he seems extremely healthy. The wounds from his fall on Monday are healing nicely, and I can’t see or feel anything wrong with his stomach. If it were appendicitis or some other stomach problem, it should come and go more frequently and there’d be other signs. I hate to dismiss it, but you said it’s only happened in conjunction with these weird electrical phenomena. It might be completely related to that and have no bearing on anything happening with his physical body in a normal medical sense. I’ve already explained to him that if he has any stomach pains, period, he needs to tell someone. I might be able to borrow some lab equipment at the hospital, but that’ll be tricky. It’s too bad the university isn’t a medical school!”

She sighs, “Otherwise, I have no idea what to do about the time travel situation, so am no good there. But in the meantime, if you have any questions or things you need to communicate with Wahya about, I can try to help with that. Though my Cherokee is pretty rough, and with the difference in time periods, some things might not even translate right. It’s sort of like American English versus Renaissance English, you know. There’s just some things that weren’t even words in his era, so don’t translate.” She laughs a bit nervously. “I really don’t know how qualified I am as a translator. You sure you don’t want to find someone else? I can try to find someone tribally affiliated who deals with language and all on a professional level.”

“No, please help us!” Morgan pleads. “At least for now, until we figure out who to talk to about the time travel bit. It’s going to be hard enough convincing someone else, and you seem to be doing just fine!”

Tracie smiles in reply, still nervous, yet very honored to be a part of this. “Okay, for now I’ll be your translator, but eventually you’ll have to be open to taking him to the tribe. The elders and tribal council will be more adept at helping him adjust to modern society, if he’s going to be a permanent resident in the 21st century.”

Morgan nods her understanding and Tracie continues, “I have to go pick up my daughter from soccer practice in a half hour, but in the meantime, I can try to translate any burning questions you might have. Then, if you’re available tomorrow - I don’t see patients on Saturdays - I can meet you again here and we can talk more.”

“I’m free tomorrow,” James replies quickly, at which Emory also agrees that he can make it.

Morgan is about to chime in with her okay when she remembers, “Oh no... I’m supposed to go to the beach for my dad’s fiftieth birthday tomorrow! James, I was actually going to ask you if I could drop Wahya off with you in the morning. But I don’t want to miss out on this either! Maybe I could just tell them I’m sick...” She shakes her head, “No, I’m supposed to pick up the cake on my way there! My sister ordered it from a fancy bakery here in Richmond City and they can’t come all the way here to get it. Damn!”

“It’s okay Morgan,” James interrupts her overflowing thoughts. “How about this, you go ahead and go to the birthday. Your dad only turns fifty once. Drop off Wahya at my house in the morning on your way out, and if anything exceptionally riveting comes up, I promise to call you.”

“And I’ll take notes for you, and for the record,” Emory pipes up.

Morgan looks disappointed, thinking the whole thing would be riveting, yet she knows they’re right - they need to talk to Wahya as soon as possible, and she can’t miss the family get-together. “Yeah, my sister would kill me if I didn’t show up at this point. But you have to call me if you find out anything important or exciting!”

Tracie helps explain the plan for tomorrow to Wahya, who’s equally thrilled at the prospect of being able to communicate with everyone and better understand what’s happening in the world around him. The doctor had since explained the general gist of where they were and what Morgan, James, and Emory’s work involved at the university, and a tiny bit about modern society. Finally, she asks him if he has anything he wants to ask the others before they all depart for the day. He thinks for a moment, then responds to her in length. Morgan wonders what he’s talking about as Tracie’s expression turns to one of surprise and amusement. When she finally turns to the others, she tries to hold back a smile.

“He’s already gathered from your excavation at the farm yesterday that, as archaeologists, you dig up historical finds to learn about the past. But he wants to know, when you dig up dead people’s things, if you know that you could be cursed, as it is believed that no one should handle a dead person’s items.”

Emory gives a conspiratorial snicker under his breath. “Way to get right to the point!”

Morgan, ignoring Emory, tries to put her thoughts on Wahya’s question into perspective. Before this week, she may have simply brushed the idea of cursed artifacts off completely, but she knows how inconsiderate that would be to Wahya’s beliefs.

She clears her throat. “Tell him that... That we try very hard not to dig up the dead unless it’s necessary to save the remains from destruction otherwise. But when we do, we try to do it with respect for the dead and their beliefs. We hope that our intentions are known and that we will not be cursed. Otherwise, most things we dig up were discarded as trash or lost, and therefore we don’t feel would be cursed.”

Everyone looks at her, and she knows they’re thinking about how until relatively recently -historically-speaking - archaeologists had a nasty reputation for grave robbing and other horrendous doings that are now criminal offenses. And in the Americas, the Native American people have been hit the hardest by that trend, with a long row of recovery and retribution yet to go. After all, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), meant to recover stolen remains and sacred objects taken from federal lands over the years, was only enacted in 1990 and many remains and objects have yet to be returned to their people.

She addresses them all further when no one says anything. “Okay, I suppose if cursed artifacts do exist, then there’s several archaeologists who should be very, very cursed for their sins! As for me, I personally hold the best intentions in mind when dealing with burials and other artifact, and I know the University’s current archaeology program is big on following the law and ethics. We’ve repatriated every NAGPRA-related artifact the school had in its collection years ago, not that there were many.”

“Yeah, I’ll vouch for that, too,” Emory says with consideration. “I just think it’s funny that he hit on that topic already. I mean in our field, we’ve heard all kinds of arguments about why museums should be able to keep Native remains and all, but it’s interesting hearing the Native perspective coming right from a historic figure himself!”

“It does kinda put it in perspective, huh?” James agrees with a smirk, knowing anthropologists of the 19th and 20th centuries were equally notorious for nefarious methods of obtaining sacred native objects.

“Alright,” Tracie tries to get back on track. “I’ll tell him that you do it with good intentions and that you believe that will keep you from being cursed?”

“Yeah, that sounds about right; keep it short and sweet,” Morgan agrees.

Tracie returns the message and Wahya nods in reply, telling her to relay to them that he cannot in good conscience help them wash artifacts anymore - he’s just not as confident as they are about the ancestors and their curses.

“Fair enough,” Morgan nods at Wahya in understanding, and Tracie asks him if he has anything else to say or ask before tomorrow. He replies and Tracie stands, signaling the end of their translation session.

Following Morgan on their way out the door, Tracie pulls her back from the group. “Morgan, Wahya has some things he wants to ask you privately, without James or Emory. Here’s my business card. Call me Sunday afternoon, say around two-o’clock, and we’ll do a phone session, okay?”

Morgan glances ahead to Wahya, who’s walking out with the other two guys, and she’s suddenly nervous, wondering what sort of things he wants to speak to her about.

“He’s got it bad for you,” Tracie answers her unspoken question. “That much he didn’t have to say, but it’s obvious the way he talks about you.”

Morgan blushes.

“We’ll talk more Sunday. In the meantime, write down anything you want to ask for tomorrow and send it with the guys.”

“Okay. I’ll definitely do that! Oh, Tracie, I can’t thank you enough for this!”

It’s Tracie’s turn to redden, “No, thank you, and thank the Great Spirit that you guys came to me! I haven’t felt this connected to my own heritage and people in years!” The doctor’s eyes begin to mist, and she takes a deep breath, holding back her tears. “This is a great blessing!”

Morgan smiles, unable to stop herself from giving Tracie a quick hug. “I couldn’t agree more!”

“Wado, Morgan! Wado to all of you!” The doctor beams at the group as they head out into the parking lot.

~~~~~

Having gone back to the lab to close things up, Morgan locks the door as Wahya waits for her, and Emory waves his goodbyes - one would never know by him that they’d had words earlier. James had left for home right after leaving Tracie’s office, getting on the phone with Samantha before unlocking his car to fill her in on the latest news. The first being that Wahya had experienced another time warp, while he was wearing the gorget, then that they’d found themselves a translator, quite by accident.

Morgan reflects momentarily on the phone call she’d been fortunately enough to take from Professor Clark in Mexico upon arriving back at the lab. He sounded exhausted but exhilarated from the work they were doing in Central America, barely giving her time to speak. At least she’d been able to tell him about the possibility of work at Ned Billings’ farm in the future and was relieved that he didn’t even seem to be worried about where she’d been lately. She has a sneaking suspicion that that ‘worry’ was more of Emory’s notion than the Professor’s, and she tries to brush it aside.

While Emory seems to be treating her normal again - the angry, cruel side of him gone - Morgan still feels apprehensive about his emotions and motives. “It’s not like he apologized or anything anyways. He’s still in the doghouse in my book!”

Pushing her thoughts away from Emory for now, Morgan simply enjoys her time with Wahya on their way home. The atmosphere between them is more mellow this evening - perhaps due to the happenings of the day with the time warp scare, or the added fact that they both feel more at peace knowing they now have a means to communicate in depth through Tracie. And yet a part of her wants to hold on, just a tiny bit, to the mystery that not being able to speak to Wahya provides their relationship.

As she gets ready for bed that night, Morgan begins to fret internally, a tinge of worry scratching the edge of her feelings. “The lack of vocal communication doesn’t make our relationship purely physical, does it? I feel like I have a deeper, emotional tie to Wahya. Surely, it’s not a shallow relationship like Emory was saying! Everyone else who’s seen us together knows we’re into each other - Samantha, James, Jess, and even Tracie. That’s what worried James and Samantha, right? That I was already emotionally there?”

Trying to get away from what others thought, she asks herself what she really thinks. “I do love him - just like I told Emory this morning... I just can’t help wondering if being able to actually talk to each other - even if it’s through Tracie - is that going to change how we feel about each other?! What if he doesn’t like me after he knows what I’m talking about?! What if I don’t like him anymore?!” She internally shakes her head, “Nonsense! We’re the same people with the same personalities that we’ve had all along.”

She wonders again what Wahya wants to talk to her privately about. A part of her sure that it will be something wonderful, like that he feels for her the way she feels about him. But what if it’s something else that he needs to confess - like that he’s married or that he’s a terrible person somehow... With the possibilities mounting into the infinite, she tries to push the doubts from her mind, knowing that worrying about it is just going to make her miserable.

Morgan quickly writes down some things she’d like Tracie to ask Wahya tomorrow. Emory’s rant about not having told Wahya about what happened to his people historically still festers in her gut. “Okay, I’ll write that down and see if Tracie can explain it to him. Or, for that matter, if she thinks it’s wise to tell him. She would probably be able to explain it culturally better than I could anyways.”

Finishing her notes, she tucks the paper under her phone, so she remembers to take it with her tomorrow and crawls into bed next to Wahya. He sleepily pulls her close against his bare chest, the gorget resting in the crook of his arm and his warm body cocooning her. She relaxes into him, feeling secure and loved. Too tired for love making tonight, the pair mutually tuck into each other instead, drowsily snuggling.

“I love you, Wahya,” Morgan whispers into his neck.

He plants a kiss on the top of her head and murmurs as his eyes close, “Gvgeyui, Walela. [I love you, Hummingbird.]

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

CHEROKEE WORDS/PHRASE TO KNOW:
Hummingbird = Walela
I love you. = Gvgeyui.

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