Chapter One: The Best Archaeologist for the Job
Samantha Harrison has a lot going for her. She’s well established in her field as an archaeologist, and had been sought out specifically for this job because of her expertise in Neolithic Britannia - despite the fact that much of her relatively short career has been spent on the eastern coast of the United States.
Her goal had always been to get herself set up to be able to transfer to England, but what with the hurtles life had thrown her way over the last several years, her ambitions had been stymied for a while. Her only way forward has been to continue studying and researching from afar.
“This is my big chance to prove my theories about the Neolithic people I believe lived at Avebury thousands of years ago! I can’t wait to get to the site,” Samantha says animatedly into her smartphone speaker.
“That’s exactly why I put your name in to go, Samantha. You’ve proven yourself over the last few years with the university, and I think you’d be the best member of my staff to get this done right,” replies the Dean of the University of Baltimore’s Archaeology Department.
Beaming with excitement, she says “Thanks for your vote of confidence, Dr. Brown! That means a lot coming from you!”
“Well, not to mention that this is your particular area of interest, but reason number two is that I have to send someone now, and being that you don’t have any family commitments like some of the staff, and aren’t a hundred years old like the rest, you were also the top pick for the University leadership,“the dean adds.
Her smile fades just a bit as she purses her lips thinking to herself, “Yeah, don’t remind me... How many times has Mom told me that I’m married to my career! Well, at least I love my career and it doesn’t cheat like my dead beat ex! Best relationship ever!”
Dr. Brown continues, “But seriously, Samantha, you are the best archaeologist for the job, and I need you on a plane to England tomorrow so you can meet your field crew on Monday morning. I’m forwarding your e-ticket to your email now. The flight leaves at 12:15 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. The field school in London will arrange to have someone pick you up at the airport.”
Samantha sits up straighter, not realizing she’d have to leave quite so soon.
“Yikes! What about my classes starting Monday?”
“Don’t worry, you’re covered. I volunteered to take the Intro to Anthropology class, and Dr. Ebersol will assist Larry with the Archaeology field session here on campus.”
She breathes a little easier, not feeling bad in the least - especially knowing that the older Dr. Beverly Ebersol has been trying to get long-time widower Dr. Lawrence Rugby’s attention for at least a decade now. Everyone on staff knew that Larry, who refused to be called ‘Doctor’ by anyone, had the hots for Beverly as well, and simply played the grouchy old man bit to hide his true feelings.
“Alright! I’ll start packing now!” Then thinking about it suddenly, she adds, “Oh! Where will I be staying?”
“Oh, yes! They’ve rented nice apartments for the entire crew. No camping out in tents or trailers! All the students will be rooming together in small groups of three or four. But you’ll have an apartment all to yourself as the field supervisor.”
The redhead relaxes a bit, thinking that packing won’t be so difficult if she has a civilized place to stay, “Whew, that’s a relief! Thanks again, Dr. Brown! I’ll message you when I get to England!”
She can practically hear the slightly older man smile as he ends the call, “Thank you, Samantha! Safe travels and have fun!”
Samantha ends the phone call and instinctively jumps for joy, adding a small squeal of excitement. She’s really going to England - to Avebury’s Cave Site - and not as just a member of the field crew, but to lead the entire dig!
Picking up her phone again, she taps her mother’s number on speed dial. As soon as the line picks up, Samantha starts, “Hey Mom! I just have a second ’cuz I have to pack, and you know how I hate packing... But, guess what!?”
Her mother laughs lightly, “Hey Sammie! You sound excited! Let me guess... You’ve got a hot date with a handsome single billionaire, and he’s flying you both to Paris for a romantic dinner?!”
Smirking at her mother’s hinting humor, Samantha says sarcastically, “Ha-ha, Mom! No, even better - I’ve been picked to head the Neolithic Britannia dig in Wiltshire, England! The University in London is doing an exchange program with universities here in the States, and Dr. Brown and the rest of the university here picked ME to go!”
He mother lets out a surprised, “Oh!?” before she continues.
“The site is right there near Avebury - the exact site that I’ve been researching... Well, as best as I can research doing it on the side and without actually being there! Mom, this is the exact site I’ve been talking about for forever?!”
Sincerely and happily surprised, Rebecca Harrison replies with a laugh, “Yes dear, I remember. It would be impossible to not think of you and Avebury together! Congratulations! I’m so happy and proud of you!”
As an added thought, she adds, “How long will you be there?”
“It’s supposed to be for two months, but it could be extended if we stumble upon something big!”
Her mother queries worriedly, “You won’t have to live in a tent the whole time, will you? It’s awfully rainy over there, and with as much tuition as those universities charge, surely they can put you in something with a real roof and walls!”
Samantha laughs, remembering her mom’s reaction when she had to camp out for a project in Middle-of-Nowhere-North-Carolina a few years ago, “Dr. Brown says I’ve got an apartment all to myself. It helps that the site is so close to modern civilization!”
“Well that’s one less worry for me! I don’t like you having to rough it on these trips,” her mom replies thankfully. “Oh, I’m awfully excited for you, sweetheart! And who knows, you might find you a nice British hunk while you’re over there,” she adds teasingly.
“Mom, there will be no time for hunk-finding! I’ll be way too busy! Plus, I’m not looking right now - you know that.”
Taking a breath, her mother retorts, “Sure! You know they always say the right guy pops up when you’re not looking.”
She continues, “You’re not old enough to write yourself off as an old maid yet, Samantha. You’re still young - have some fun! And even though I might be biased, I think you’re beautiful. Don’t forget that!”
With a smirk, Samantha rolls her eyes at her mom’s pep-talk, and heaves a sigh, “I won’t, Mom. And thanks.” Needing to go pack and tired of talking about her nonexistent love life, she ends the call, “I’ve got to go now, but I’ll call you when I get to England. I’m forwarding my flight info to you now. Love you!”
“Love you, too, Samantha!”
Pocketing her phone, the archaeologist heads upstairs to start packing. She knows she’ll be up all night if she doesn’t start now - not that she’d be able to sleep anyways, should she get into bed at a decent hour.
“This is even more exciting than going to Disney World!” She exclaims to herself.
~~~~~5:00 a.m. the Next Morning
Samantha’s alarm clock goes off only too soon as she’d finally gotten into bed at 2:30 a.m. Blindly shutting off the alarm, she groans in response to the early hour and rolls over, when she suddenly remembers that today is the start of only the most important trip of her life - the sleepiness quickly replaced with excitement.
She thinks of the few things she has left to pack, but decides to take a quick shower first and down a cup of coffee to wake her senses up.
An hour and a half later, refreshed, packed, and dressed comfortably for the long plane ride, Samantha takes her suitcase, packed with mostly field gear, out to the front stoop of her townhouse and locks the door to tell her neighbor she’s leaving and to wait for the cab she’d already called for.
“Hey Samantha! What are you doing up so early on a Saturday?” Samantha spots the slightly round, older woman climbing the steps of her own stoop next door having been out for her daily walk around the block.
“Hi neighbor!” Samantha happily calls out. “I was just about to come knock on your door to give you my keys and ask if you’d keep an eye on the place while I’m gone.”
“Sure thing! Where are you off to this time?” Jennifer Beasley, her neighbor of the last couple years replies with a smile, always excited to hear about Samantha’s work outside of the university walls.
“I’m actually going to be gone for about two months to ENGLAND!” Samantha emphasizes the last part ecstatically. “I got a call from my boss at the university last night, and he said I was picked to lead the Avebury Cave excavation at Wiltshire! The only caveat is that my plane flies out this afternoon!”
Jennifer, smiles as she places her hands on her hips, “That’s great! I know you’ve been dying to go!”
The redhead’s green eyes sparkle as she giggles excitedly, “I know!”
Then more seriously she adds, “I’m sorry for leaving you with the house on such short notice. I went online and put a forward on the mail to be sent to my mom’s address last night, but it might take a few days for it to go through, if you wouldn’t mind checking that for me?”
“No worries, dear! Your house is easy - no plants, pets, or anything else to worry about! I still have your mom’s address from last time, so will forward anything that isn’t junk.”
At that moment the cab pulls up along the curb, and Samantha gives Jennifer a quick hug and her thanks before dragging her luggage down the short sidewalk to meet the driver.
As the cab pulls away, she gives a final wave of goodbye to her neighbor - butterflies of excitement filling her stomach - but she doesn’t mind.