The Anthropologist's Daughter

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October 2017

When Evy Marie was only 2 years old, Wren was working as an assistant professor at her undergraduate university, the University of Vermont. In Wren's years, she had racked up quite a few ex-boyfriends. She had long since gotten over her worst break-up from her time at college. She was not prepared, however, for a run in with her ex one sunny afternoon in October.

Evy was sitting on the side of the hallway of Patrick Gym on a blanket. Her mother was beside her, brushing off the soles of a pair of high-heeled standard ballroom shoes. Her alumni gym pass allowed her access to the studio and as there had recently been a turnover of coaches on the ballroom team, Wren's old coach, Marie, had asked Wren to come and take over coaching the Newcomer standard class. Wren had been reluctant, but the pull to her old haunt had been strong. So here she was, sitting outside the studio, daughter sitting beside her.

Wren was still in her own little world when Evy placed her two pudgy hands on Wren's leg and stood up. She was grinning widely and was suddenly running across the concrete floor at someone walking toward the studio. The person stopped walking as he caught sight of the young girl. Wren stood up, picked up the blanket and diaper bag, then her dance bag and walked over to Evy, eyes never leaving the young girl.

"You must be the new coach," the person said. "Marie said you had a daughter."

"Well, Evy's used to being in a studio," Wren said as she looked up, picking up Evy at the same time. "Hi Jack," she said when she recognised him.

"Wren," he said, shocked. Marie clearly hadn't told him who the new coach was.

"I assume that you're here to open the studio," Wren said as he kept staring at her. It seemed to shake the tall man for a second before he went to open the studio doors.

"When did you..." he started, as she carried Evy in to the studio and setting her down. Evy ran to the center of the floor yelling "Mooseek! Mumma! Mooseek!"

"Evy was born just about two and a half years ago," Wren answered Jack's unasked question as she took the key off of him and opened the stereo system. "And her father's not around. I'm not married." Plugging in her iPad, she opened up a random ballroom shuffle list and hit play. A cha cha came on and Evy began dancing around in a way that only two year olds can master.

Jack seemed to have lost any words. He looked around like the air had gotten awkward.

"Hestia has known ever since Evy was born," Wren stated. Jack's look turned even more shocked. Hestia was his best friend. Wren and Hestia had managed to stay friends and had stayed in contact after Wren had graduated from the university. On the other hand, Wren had not seen Jack since Connor and Keri's wedding.

"She never told me," Jack said. Wren glared.

"And why should she? We haven't spoken outside the ballroom since my undergraduate years."

"You mean since I asked Hestia out," Jack corrected. "I know that’s what you want to say." Wren laughed and shook her head.

"You always did hold grudges," she said.

A head poked in the studio. Wren motioned to the person. Jack turned around briefly. The students of the University of Vermont Ballroom Dance Team had arrived. Wren moved over to the folding chair and bent to put her freshly brushed shoes on. Evy came running over to her when she saw the group of young adults flowing into the studio. The song had changed to a swing, one that Wren and Jack recognised off the bat.

"You're still using Muse's 'Uprising'?" Jack asked, astonished.

"Hah... Why wouldn't I?" Jack just shook his head. He finally moved over to a small table on the side of the room, put down his own dance bag and took out his shoes. Ginevra followed him, sticking her arms up in the air. Jack stared at the girl for a second, looked up at her mother who was changing the music over to a foxtrot, then leaned down and picked her up before placing her on the table. Evy giggled. Jack continued to put on his shoes, then he picked her up again. Evy placed her very small left hand on Jack's shoulder and reached her right hand out to Jack's left. Jack laughed and took her other hand. As the foxtrot came on, Jack took off across the floor. Evy let out a high pitched shriek of laughter. The newcomer dancers, who didn't recognise the young girl or her mother, laughed at the sight before them. Jack slowed down and brought Evy back to her mother. Evy was put down and she giggled running back to Wren. Wren bent down to spread out the blanket once more. Evy sat down on it and picked up her stuffed bunny.

"Alright!" Wren said, projecting her voice to her new students. "Welcome to first semester newcomer standard!" Everyone who had their shoes on already stood up and gathered around her and Jack. "I am the new newcomer coach. You all already know Jack Rossier. My name is Wren McKay. I am also a professor in the university's Anthropology Department. Evy, over there, is my daughter," Wren pointed to where Evy was sitting on the blanket. "Now, let's get started!"

Two hours later, the students were packing up, sweaty and exhausted from doing the same thing over and over again. Wren grinned as she thought about how they would be bored of rhythm foxtrot by the end of the semester. She and her first partner, Sam, had been dead exhausted of it by the end of their first semester, but it didn't stop them from practicing - an effort that had lead to a happily achieved first place in American Foxtrot at the Newcomer level at Harvard Invitationals that year. Still smiling, she watched Evy run around the floor to the music that was still playing. Jack was standing by the music player.

"Hesty! Hesty!" Evy was suddenly shouting as she ran toward the studio doors. Wren looked over and saw Hestia Cook peeking into the studio, a slightly bewildered Lawrence behind her, and soon Hestia was crouching down to nab the sprinting two year old. Wren began to make her way over, meeting Hestia and Lawrence half way.

"How are you, Evy? Good?" Evy nodded quickly before hugging Hestia even harder. Hestia looked at Wren and smiled. "I came to check on how your first class went and to congratulate you on getting first in gold standard at your last competition."

“Thank you, Hestia,” Wren said, grinning. Lawrence mock bowed behind her. Hestia laughed as Lawrence then made a grab for Evy who cackled at the top of her small lungs.

"Haha. So the youngster and m’lord are still getting on," she said smiling. She then turned to Jack. "I don't suppose you want to come. I was going to take these three to Dobra."

Jack looked almost stunned. "I wouldn't want to intrude..."

"No intrusion at all!" Wren assured, "Besides, Hestia and I have tea every week. We can afford to have a few times with more company that normal. Besides, I'm thinking toureg might be the thing tonight. What do you say, Hestia? We'll save the masala chai for tomorrow."

"Sounds like a plan," Hestia said, shrugging her shoulders. "Be like old times, plus one or two." She indicated the two-year old Lawrence was still holding.

Jack wasn't sure, but he decided that this was probably the only way to get Wren to trust him again. It was a trust he wasn't sure he'd ever earn back, but you'd never know unless you tried. He didn't know that Wren had already forgiven him.

"Let me just pack up all this stuff and we'll take my car? The car seat's already in it." Hestia and Jack agreed. They were soon on their way to one of the favorite spots in Burlington.
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