Those of you who read Meghan’s first story, “Meghan’s Brush with Forensic Archaeology,” know that it grew out of a “normal” post. When I started the post, I thought I would be doing something like I had before, where I wrote a haiku and talked about our “poetic archaeologist” as an example. But at the end of that post, I found myself writing a few lines of dialogue. And a story was born.
As I work on her new story, I’m also working on revisions to this one, fleshing it out into a longer version like “Buried Deeds.” So I’ve drafted a real opening scene. For now, the story starts like this.
Archaeologist Meghan Bode sorts through the artifacts on her lab table. Hand-wrought nails, tin-glazed earthenware, and blown glass all point to the 1700s—promising results for her new research project. She’ll spend the rest of the autumn analyzing the survey results and start the main excavations in December.
She reaches for another bag of artifacts but stops when she sees the time, nearly noon. Better eat lunch now, she thinks. That detective will be here in half an hour.
Her stomach flutters. She’s used to regular people bringing “something interesting” to the Anthropology department for her to identify. A farmer finds an “arrowhead” in a field and wants to know how old it is. A hiker stumbles over an oddly shaped stone in the woods and asks if it’s a Native American axe. But in her twenty years experience, no detective has ever called and asked her to look at a possible human bone.
He should meet with Irene, not me, she thinks.
Her colleague, Irene Kristoff, specializes in physical anthropology and has forensic training. But she’s away at a conference this week. The consultation falls to Meghan.
Relax, she thinks while chewing her salad. It’s probably a deer bone, or even a tree root, just like those “axes” are natural stones. He’ll think it was a wasted trip and be out of here in ten minutes.
She finishes her meal and checks her email. At twelve-thirty, she looks up at the knock on her open door.
“Dr. Bode? I’m Tom Sandberg.”
Meghan smiles. “Actually, it’s pronounced ‘Bo-duh.’ But please come in.”
She offers Sandberg a seat at the table. “So what do you have for me?”
Sandberg takes a plastic bag from his jacket pocket and hands it to Meghan. “A jogger’s dog did some digging out at Custis Park this morning. Came back to his owner with this for a game of fetch. The guy brought it in, thinking it might be human. It’s not, is it?”
Meghan studies the bag’s contents. “It’s definitely bone,” she says. “Let me take a closer look.”
She took human osteology and comparative faunal analysis courses in graduate school. She’s familiar with a variety of animal remains from her field projects and has excavated human burials. This six-inch fragment is no deer bone.
“It’s human,” she tells Sandberg. “The right humerus. That’s your upper arm bone.”
Sandberg slumps in his chair and rubs his face. “Tell me it’s old. Really old. Like a thousand years old.”
“I can’t do that.”
And that’s where we’ll pick up the original Part 2. Of course, all scenes will be revised away from the “weekly serial” format, and this is still a draft. But this is the start of that process. We’ll see where it leads….