Mr. Knightly released the student’s with a double archeology major, only herself and two other boys, one African-American like herself, and the other a descendant of the Sioux Native Americans. They walked side by side, each in their own thoughts. In a graceful sweeping gesture Chenoa moves his silky ebony locks behind his shoulders. Harlow studied the movement envy. She let him see her jealousy.
“Your hair puts mine to shame.” He laughed richly and gently caressed her frizzing locks. She knew she’d have an afro by the end of the day in this heat, and of course there was no electricity to plug up her hot-iron that she’d so stupidly brought.
“Naw, your hair is fine too.” He argued. His protest fell on deaf ears. “Ha! Says the boy with silk for hair.” She cried putting on her shades.
“Please, I’m silky where it counts.” Mateo said pulling up his oversized shirt to show me a well-represented display of his abdominal muscles. “This comes from work boy, real work.” He said to Chenoa.
Chenoa snorted and lifted his own shirt and I laughed at the raw performance of male arrogance. I studied the scene with an anthropologists eye and archeological skill as they bantered back and forth. Chenoa has seen many hard days. His upper muscles indicated repeatedly lifting heavy things. His appearance was scruffy, to say the least, his clothes efficient more than fashionable. Mateo took more care in his appearance with carefully pressed slightly sagging jeans, a tucked-in button down, and clean shoes. His strength likely came from sports as she looked at his leg muscles.
Chenoa didn’t care much to win the argument and neither, did it seem, Mateo. He was happy to hear Harlow’s laughter. He felt sorry for her emotions back at the bleak house. Chenoa thought Mateo had the same idea as he looked at her happiness. Or maybe they were both enjoying looking at her. Harlow’s amusement was contagious and they all laughed. When they finally stopped laughing, Harlow told them of her anthropological assessment and laughter erupted again, longer and harder until the boys were back to their banter.
When they arrived at the dig site they sobered up and went to find their teacher. Their instructor, Madame Lively fluttered about like a butterfly, helping each student with the pieces they were finding. The dig site was located in a previous battle area. As an anthropologist, Harlow couldn’t ignore the stench of death in the air, or the lines of the battle strategy marked across the floor. She fingered the neck bone that she had slipped into her pocket before she left. She’d thought to give it to her teacher, but changed her mind as she found solace in the pressure it left against her thigh. Leaning down, she picked up dirt and felt the thickness of blood. Her eyes drifted towards the sky and recognized a grayness that seemed to encompass the entire battlefield. She realized that Sudan was sad and bitter. She was a very bitter country, tension running through her veins.
After checking in with their teacher, they immediately went to work cataloguing items. Each of the students would have preferred digging but Madame Lively needed help dating the items. As Harlow worked, she wondered about meeting the Sudanese people. Previous research allowed her to be knowledgeable about some things, but you really could only get a true anthropological feel about a group by meeting them. She relayed her assessment to Mateo and Chenoa. The both agreed, and planned on asking Mr. Knightly about a visit to the city the next day. As Sudanese sun cast a orange glow across a darkening sky, Harlow thought she could have catalogued at least hundreds of bones. The skeletal team had only accurately assembled two skeletons. All of the other bones mixed and matched to bones yet to be discovered. However, despite the knowledge of the vast unknown death, the archeologist around her talked amicably.
“Mateo, will the three of you be back tomorrow?” Madame Lively asked inspecting his work over their shoulders.
He cringed from the proximity. “I don’t know. Depends on the Knight.”
Harlow smiled at her step-fathers nickname; around campus, he was known to champion any opportunity for students. He was certainly a thorn in the dean’s side, but his work was sound and his credentials unbeatable.
Madame Lively clicked her tongue. “Hmm…yes, well I claim you on Friday. Don’t forget to tell him. I’ll not have his excuses and you cannot be late. I will need all hands on deck to separate the bones in the burial piles.”
It sounded like morbid work, but Harlow relished the chance to actually enter the sites and touch the bones. Anything was better than the monotonous task of cataloguing which would be inevitable the day afterward.