Her father had always told her that most mysteries lay within between the lines of famous documents. Treasures that people overlooked because they were unable to see them; and had never taken the time to investigate and discover the real truths that rest uncovered. She was only four years old when she had first heard the tales of Indiana Jones and glorious rumors of Atlantis that her father constantly drilled into her head. Raymond Mae, although he was a doctor, had a wild taste of adventure that he was most determined to pass onto his daughter.
But perhaps the adventurous soul was genetic, because Vivian Mae was always on a hunt for danger; according to him. Before she was six, she was allowed to be at home alone and made escaping the house her new challenge in order to find her father. Vivian had read through all his old journals numerous times and each reading often surprised her. The man documented everything. From first words to collected pieces of dried and pressed plants that they had grown together in the garden; even a button off of her favorite hat. His thick heavy scrawled writing often was almost impossible for her to read- but it was the only memory that she had left of him and so she clung to it and decided she would never lose these books as long as she lived.
She had never known her mother. Apparently, according to the journal, her mother had run away with an upcoming actor (who eventually abandoned her for some showgirls behind the stage) so the situation was justified to Vivian. Her philosophy was that old saying ‘what comes around, goes around’ and more often than not it came true for terrible people. She pressed her fingertips against her forehead and shook her head powerfully side to side. She still couldn’t believe that Ryan had cheated on her for a girl that was not even attractive. Vivian still remembered opening the door to his dormitory to bring him dinner; only to find a provocative scene that caused her to drop the plate to the floor and shout horrible insults his way. “What do you mean, it’s not what it looks like!” She had cried at him and pointed a finger at the other half-naked woman. “What the hell is that?”
He had tried to grab her but she pushed his hands away and turned from him. “We were supposed to be together, to travel, to live Ryan!” She scowled at him and retreated from his side, her eyes narrowed in hurt. But he had only shrugged his shoulders and protested.
“I want to have a family, Vivi. . .” She shook her head as she thought about that night. She pressed her hands against the table firmly and blinked back a few more tears at the thought of him. The wound was so fresh, it felt like she had been stabbed in the chest.Family, where had that come from? Where her heart would be, she could feel nothing. She wondered at times like this, if she had a mother, what the woman would say to her. “Time heals all, doll. . .” She imagined the woman saying to her. But she couldn’t remember what she even looked like.
Was her mother tall, plump, too skinny? What was a mother anyway for she did not need one. She did not need a boy telling her what to do either and she definitely was leaving this place. Vivian had been planning her ‘escape’ for weeks now. Financially she was secured through Oxford that was funding her first expedition because of her academic achievements. She had everything she needed and was certain as to where she was going to go. She ruffled her fingertips through her thesis on the Sahara Desert and paper clipped the twenty three page report together. All that was left to do, was wait.
But suddenly, the phone decided to ring. And she knew exactly who it was dialing her at this hour. Angrily, Vivian stomped over to the machine to answer the call.
“ I’m done Ryan!”A voice protested from the other line and she growled in frustration. She shouted into the phone and slammed the device swiftly into the receiver with a loud click that nearly toppled over the stand of books it was placed upon. She crossed her arms and paced back and forth to calm her shaking shoulders. Vivian pulled on a piece of loose brown hair as it tumbled in front of her face and she watched it with her moistening blue irises. The thin amount of makeup she had applied around her eyes had begun to water off and weave downwards.
Slowly she stopped her pacing and reached down to let her fingers pass over the documents and items that lay upon the nearby table. Her graduation cap, a dark blue colour, sat upon the table as a prominent item. A stack of documents with her name upon them were sprawled beneath a few loose pens and pencils and a picture with her and a rather tall attractive man who held her shoulders playfully. She picked up the photo within her hands to study it. The graceful curve of his smile and her happy appearance as they stood in front of a tree. “Gah!”
She shouted angrily and threw the frame against the wall with such a velocity; it smashed with a loud clang. Glass pieces scattered against the floor in a wavering pile- a mark left on the wall her room mate would obviously notice. She breathed heavily and glanced once more to the table. A box sat meekly on top wide open to finish packing and was marked with a wide circle. Inside lay almost all her childhood memories. The most familiar item that rested inside was a small photo book covered in shiny little stickers that stood out in the darkness of the empty apartment building. She paced again before turning her body to sit upon a nearby box that was full to the brim with blankets and books. The phone rang again and she glanced threateningly toward it to wait until the answering machine would take a message for her.
“Happy almost Graduation Day!” A chipper voice coiled out from the line once the phone silenced once more; Vivian let out a sigh of relief. “We are so-o-o excited for tomorrow!” A male’s voice after a scuffle entered into the line. “Don’t worry Vivi I’ll be there to take your pictures!” They argued a little more before laughing again “see you tomorrow!” Her friends voices vanished into the silence and she remained still. Most people had family to come to their graduations.
But she only had those two. Not that she minded; but the idea of family standing up and cheering in the stands was more than enough to make her seethe in jealousy of what those students took for granted. She glanced back over to the broken frame. She would clean it up in the morning before Allysa came home from her vacation. Her roommate was a beautiful intelligent woman that was majoring in accounting. And because of that reason she was often away on business trips shadowing corporations or just working. So for Allysa to vacation; was a miracle in itself.
Slowly she shifted her body weight backwards to place her hands behind her and stare at the room. Her heart panged terribly in her chest and she believed that this was what heartache felt like. A map of the world hung parallel on the wall to her that etched out the globe in it’s old yellowed paper format. She had wanted to travel the world with Ryan but it seemed like that had turned out to be a myth just like numerous legends she had read about throughout her graduate studies.
After years of hard work she was finally graduating from Oxford, a very prestigious school known for it’s vast history and exploration of the past and archaeology. She decided that if she was unable to discover anything of valour when she traveled; she could always come back and find a job within the school teaching the skills that she had learned from her valued instructors. “Vivian Mae” She spoke outloud to herself in a mocking tone just as her significant ex other had stated earlier.
“I am afraid things have grown too complicated between us and I do not want to continue this relationship.” She snorted under her breath. But soon she began to laugh out loud at the hilarity in it all. Was he not the one who had not wanted a family in the first place?
“It’s better for me to be alone anyway.” She mummered and stood up to push the majority of the boxes into the center of the room to be placed into storage. Vivian wiggled a loose blanket out from one of the cardboard containments and with a flick of the lights she wandered to the couch to fall to sleep.
The light was so magnificent in the darkness that she crawled toward it on her hands and knees to escape the tunnel. A voice called out to her happily and she rushed to it as soon as she touched the soft grass. “Vivian!” The male’s voice called again and he held out his hands to her. He was clad in a white open shirt and his brilliant eyes watched her from afar. He was so handsome- Vivian could have sworn she felt her heart stop. Who was this boy whom had appeared from nowhere? He pursed his lips quietly and ran his fingers through his sandy hair before turning to walk away. Perhaps she had taken too long. . He disappeared from her sight soon after once the darkness fell again and the light forced her awake.
The morning sun awoke Vivian before the alarm clock could sound off it’s familiar oldies tunes.
She squinted her eyes to allow her pupils to adjust to the brightness in the room. “It’s time to get up. . .” She mumbled to herself and slaughtered to the bathroom to observe her appearance groggily in the mirror. There were dark circles there, surpassing her basic looks and sharp angled face. She splashed some water onto her olive skin to awaken the pores but that really did not cause a difference.
She brushed her hair as her radio finally sounded off and the smooth sounds of The Royal Chessman tiptoed into the room. And then she remembered yesterday’s events and sighed to herself. This was their favorite song, “Beggin’ you” played loud and clear in the vacant apartment. Vivian swayed back and forth to the beat and began to apply her thin routine of makeup that consisted of just mere foundation and powder and a sweep of mascara over her long lashes.
She never felt the need to wear much makeup or really do much with her wavy hair; so she just let it hang around her shoulders lazily. After abandoning her clothes from yesterday upon the bathroom floor she slipped into a nicer black dress that hung over her door. It clung to her lightly curved body in all the right places and accented her skin tone and hair. Once she pinned her graduation cap into place and checked the mirror.
Vivian reached to pull the alarm clock’s cord from the wall and swiftly pack it into the box with her other few items. During the graduation ceremony; the movers would come to pick up her things and place them into storage. Her suitcases sat in the corner of all the basic traveling necessities she would need. She took the time to pull down the map from the wall, sweep up the glass, and pick up her clothes from the bathroom floor.
“Good bye.” She shouted into the empty room and only heard back a faint echo. ‘Good bye’ the apartment building whispered back in her tone as the door slammed shut.
The noise was baffling in the hall as she had to push past the crowd of people to enter into the main hall to assemble for graduation. “Vivi!” Two voices called her name and she glanced through the crowd to detect their origins. “Right here silly.” A strong hand gripped her shoulder and she turned about to face them. “Sam. ..Brit. . .” She stumbled for words and then blushed in embarrassment. “I can’t believe you came all the way here to see me!”
The pair must have driven all the way from Houston to Georgia. She imagined their car ride, for neither of them got together very well but they would unite to seek her presence. “Congratulations!” Brit announced and jumped into her arms with a boisterous hug. “I haven’t even graduated yet!” Vivian protested and faintly hugged her back; she felt a weak smile crawl to her lips as Sam looked around. She knew who he was looking for. “Ryan isn’t coming.” She told the pair and lowered her eyes to the ground.
“Why?” Sam narrowed his eyes at her words and glanced to Brit. “This is a very important day for you, why wouldn’t the prick show up?” Brit elbowed Sam and leaned forwards to touch Vivian’s shoulder comfortingly. “Boys are stupid.” She agreed and Sam scowled. “You were out of his league anyways.” He mumbled under his breath and leaned forwards to hug her as well. How long had it been since she had seen these two? Almost a year already, but time had gone by so fast with Ryan occupying all of her time when she was not studying.
“Are you still set on going to the Sahara?” Brit questioned after a few moments of silence. The room was noisy so they almost had to shout to hear one another. The banners of their graduating class hung proudly in the hallway with each opening of the glass doors that sent refreshing breezes inwards.
“It was Dad’s last expedition.” She whispered, but Sam caught it and nodded his head.
She remembered how they first had met.
Raymond Mae had finally closed his eyes for good as nurses rushed around him. A heart condition, they said. But he was only forty, she pleaded with the doctors but they gave hardly no explanation.
She did not even get a chance to say goodbye to him when the heart monitor beeped a solid noise; and everything went silent around her even though doctors raced to and fro. Afterwards, she wandered around the hospital with her backpack from school still on her shoulders. “She’s so small. . “ one of the nurses had whispered as she walked slowly back to the hospital room where they wanted her to wait.
Up ahead in one of the waiting chairs sat boy with curly black hair and when he looked up to the approaching footsteps; she noticed his eyes were bright green.
“Hi.” He mumbled as she walked by. She wanted to keep walking by and not socialize. But she was lonely, and so she sat by him and uttered another “hi” back. They sat silently together for hours until after a few looks Vivian decided she would speak to him.
“Where do you go to school?” She questioned as she noticed too that he had a backpack as well.
“Yours.” He stated quietly and folded his little hands in front of himself to glance at her. His features were childish but she felt herself blushing in response to his gaze.
“I’ve never seen you there before.” Vivian answered and raised a brow curiously.
“What’s your name?” She whispered and watched as a nurse approached them; she looked grim.
“Sam.” He mumbled and smiled toward her.
“Sam Hermick, the doctor wants to speak with you.” The nurse smiled to the pair of them, but it was clear there was sympathy in her eyes. Although they were young, they could detect something bad had happened. “Bye Vivian.” Sam pulled himself from the chair to stand up and collect his things.
“Bye Sam.” She uttered and withdrew one of her father’s old journals and began to leaf through the pages until they came to summon her too.
Soon enough, the nurse from before approached her side and sat down by her. The hospital lights were getting dimmer as though it was going to close. Was it that time already?
“What’s the time?” She questioned the nurse before she even had a chance to explain her actions.
“Nine twenty dear.” The nurse whispered and pushed a loose strand of blonde hair from her eyes. “If you don’t mind me asking. . .how old are you?” She tilted her head curiously toward the book Vivian was reading. But Vivian pulled it from her examining gaze and looked away.
The nurse whose name was Julie, according to her name badge, began to talk with her. But Vivian was only curious about one thing. “Why was Sam here?” She spoke smoothly and began to zip up her backpack when a few other strangers were beginning to approach her. No one else was in the hallway, so she knew these were the people that would be taking care of her.
Julie bit her lip and tugged on her dress pants as she stood up with Vivian. “I really can’t say dear, I can’t disclose patient information.”
“Okay.” She answered and then a rather tall woman reached the pair accompanied by an equally tall male. “Vivian Mae?” The woman asked. Her voice was smooth like milk and Vivian immediately liked her smile. But her male companion looked cold and angry to even be looking at her. She diverted her gaze from his peering stare. She remained quiet after saying hello. The nurse excused herself from her side and went back to her station to finish cleaning up for the night. “Since you have no other available family, we have a place for you to live at until you are of age.” The woman knelt down at her side. “I knew your father, he was a very brilliant man.”
“Thank you.” She whispered and gripped onto the handles of her backpack tighter. “Am I going to a girls school?” Vivian asked quietly as she was lead down the hallway and out the door. “Yes hun.” The woman answered once they had entered the car. She began filling out paperwork for Vivian before passing it back to her.
“This is the best option available to you.” It was there she met Brit for the first time as her roommate and their friendship blossomed over the years.
“Vivian Mae.” The spokesperson from her class called her name and she straightened her graduation gown before crossing the stage. A cheer from her friends in the baffling crowd made her flush in pride. She reached out to shake each of the board member’s hand and finally the president of the college’s rough hand. “Good luck on your expedition, Vivian Mae.”
He spoke to her and she nodded her head in acknowledgement. Each congratulated her and she took her seat once more after the camera flashed at her from afar. Sam. Several speeches were made about life changing and that they were all going their separate ways now. Good luck speeches, remember to have fun speeches, Vivian’s eyes grew heavy as the ceremony grew closer to the end.
Finally the Dean came forward to close the ceremony and everyone took it upon themselves to throw their caps into the air. Vivian felt two hit her in the head and laughing she shielded her face as the last of the caps fell to the ground. Applause erupted all around them and she glanced back to find Sam and Brit’s faces. They were clapping and standing up making their way to the exit to meet her.
Up ahead the woman that she had seen Ryan with stood nearby him in the back of the ceremony. She met his eyes for a moment before filing out of the hall. She kept her mind focused on her friends and ignoring his presence. It had spoiled her mood though, and it showed in the photos they took of her.
“I saw Ryan” She explained to Brit with a frown.
“Who cares.” Brit snapped, clearly irritated by Ryan’s effect on the positive mood.
“Let’s go celebrate.” Sam pressed after a few more photographs. Vivian nodded her head meekly and the three of them left the crowd behind to head toward the exit laughing at one of the kids who screamed when a party popper went off. This was the last time she would be seeing these two for another few years and so Vivian reached out to loop her arms in between both of theirs.