Little moments: A Day in the Desert
Melinda's thoughts Part II
Disclaimers: Here’s the latest invention from my warped mind <G>. They are stories of Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas that take place three years after the Xena Scrolls episode. Some are from Jan’s point of view. Some are from Mel’s.
These ladies are deeply in love but they have yet to express that love to each other. So if the idea of two gorgeous dames longing for each other in a non-platonic way is upsetting, I feel very sorry for you. It’s hard to live with tunnel vision and you have my sympathies. It will be a very long road for you.
My first thoughts are of Janice . . . and how happy she’ll be to see this.
She gets so excited – like a child on Christmas Eve - when we make a new discovery. She has a habit of pacing like an expectant father. In between, I’ll find her ‘reading’ the scrolls over my shoulder, all the while ringing her anxious, dirty hands together.
Although her Greek has gotten much better, she’s still terrible at syntax which is why I’m still around, I’m sure. I feel proud to know I can help the woman who’s well on her way to being one of the world’s most renowned archeologists. The spotlight is never a place I wanted to be. If I spent the rest of my life standing behind this woman I would be happy because I think she’s truly amazing. But as Janice points out to many folks we meet, my place is at her side, not as a leader or a follower.
I went home once since I met Janice. Just once. Once was enough.
It had been a rocky first year and I was feeling a little blue. Janice can be very demanding - very stern at times. I guess I just wanted to see some friendly faces and do some ‘catching up’ with the folks back in Carolina.
When I announced my plans to go home for a spell Janice brushed it off, mumbling something about me ‘deciding to give up’ and ‘have a nice life’. At that very moment I considered just staying in Carolina - if my leaving meant nothing, then my staying meant nothing either.
But on my last night at the dig site, Janice came into our tent and ‘casually’ mentioned my plane trip in the morning. I figured she’d give some brute response again but what transpired shocked me. She sat down on her cot that ran parallel to mine, facing the door of course. Janice always needs all the angles covered she says. Anyway, she sat down and told me that she hoped I’d return. I’d become a great asset to her. But if I found that life in Carolina that was better . . . she wished me well.
She didn’t wait for my response. She just turned down her lantern and climbed under her covers, turning her back to me. I’m kind of glad she didn’t want an answer. For once I was speechless. I’d never seen Janice open up in that kind of way. Sure she could scream at me if I used the wrong tool for a job. Without a doubt she could yell when I dropped an artifact on the ground. But this side to Janice . . . this caring . . . was something I was unprepared for. And it was certainly unlike anything I saw in our first year together.
But as I said I went home. I saw my friends. And every one of them never asked me how I liked my new life. They just wanted to know when I was coming home for good. After Janice’s confession I was uncertain and I told them such. I didn’t know when, if ever, I was going to come home. It was BettyJo’s comments that helped me consider things more closely.
BettyJo was one of my oldest and dearest friends. One night over dinner she asked when I was going to get this wanderlust under control. I was acting ridiculous. Janice didn’t really ‘need me’. And besides, people were beginning to talk. I didn’t understand just what she meant by ‘talk’ but it seems in some circles, quite close to me I should add, since I left my beau Richard to ‘take up’ with Janice, people were wondering if I was . . . one of THOSE girls.
I was offended. I was appalled.
But when I got home that night and I lay in bed I thought back to something my momma told me on her deathbed. She said, "Melinda, one day you’re gonna met a man who will sweep you off your feet. He’ll have all the right looks. He’ll have all the right lines darlin'. But don’t be sold too quick on him. Because the one for you will protect you and grow with you. Someone who’ll stand beside you, not ‘own’ you. And you my dear will feel the same." I asked just how I would know and she told me "When it happens you’ll know darlin’. Cause it will hit you like lightening."
Lightening struck as I lay alone in that stuffy bedroom that night.
Richard was the ‘looker with all the lines’. Janice was the real deal. Momma never pointed out that the ‘package’ might be different but that special someone was still the same.
I thought back to the very first day I met Janice. She saved my life several times that day and I was a perfect stranger. She told me often that I should finish up my college degree, even if it meant correspondence courses. She gave me the freedom to return to her or stay with my kin in Carolina. That night I realized . . . Janice was the one.
Daddy told me that sometimes you couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I know now that I was too close to Janice to see it but once I stepped back – saw where my life was and where it was heading - the choice was easy . . . Janice Covington was my destiny.
I hopped a plane to Greece and never looked back.
It’s been two year since then. I haven’t confessed a single thought to Janice . . . At least . . . not yet. Perhaps someday I will. Perhaps if I knew she felt the same. At this point the risk of telling her would be too great. I enjoy my work. I enjoy my time with Janice. Why ruin a good thing in the fleeting chance that it might be just a little bit more? I mean I already love Janice. I’d give my life for Janice. The chance at physical intimacy is not worth losing my best friend in the world.
As I walk toward her now and see that smile on her face I realize I’ve made the right decision. The only decision. My humor helps keep my attraction at bay and as I walk up and see how dashing she looks I plot my response to the grin that has me turned inside out.
"What’s on yer mind doctor? Ya seem awful happy seein’ it’s about 160 in the shade."
"Thinking about Coney Island?" she answers without adding more.
She really knows how to push my buttons by being ‘mysterious’ but with this god awful heat and my growing attractions I’m simply not in the mood to be ‘pushed’ today.
"What in tarnations are you talkin’ about?" I ask her a little more shortly than I intended.
The language of my momma’s kin always peeks out when I get agitated. Daddy came from a ‘refined’ family. Refined is a clever way to say ‘rich’. My momma’s family didn’t have many ‘assets’ and it caused quite a stir when Daddy asked her for her hand. Janice has learned at this point, when those terms come creeping out it’s best not to push me. Thankfully, today she notices.
"You," she says in a bashful voice, not looking for a ‘fight’ today.
Me? Did she just say me? Is she smiling because of me? My heart is starting to soar now but I realize I have to keep things cool. The thought of the word cool is a bit funny within itself given how hot it is out here.
She mentions something about me reminding her of happy memories with her father but ‘all business’ Covington soon takes over. I realize it’s probably for the best anyway and I let the comment go. Well let’s just say I don’t push the issue. But the comment goes back into my memory file I keep with all the little moments that Janice probably wishes I’d forget. Those ‘tender, mushy moments’ as Janice calls them.
I tell her about the possible prospect of any other scroll case and instantly she lights up but I have to reel her in. We might come up empty, as we sometimes do. I don’t want her to get her hopes up too high because it’s terrible to try to cheer her up afterward. I must admit she is getting better though after two years of my ‘coaching’.
I instruct her to follow me and for an instant it seems as though she’s . . . watching me? Could that be it? I’m not sure but I’m not going to make mention of it. I turn around and I see that look in her eye. Admiration. Perhaps it’s for the job well done I tell myself. Nothing more.
"You comin’ or not?" I ask, waving her over.
I watch her adjust her fandor, an action that always makes my blood race. She looks so determined and dashing when she does that. With it firmly in place she begins to make her way over. . . I wait for her and side by side we walk to the dig - the way it’s been since the beginning. Perhaps the way it’s been for thousands of years.