An arid wind swept across the lonely landscape. It smelled of hope, memories, and lunches forgotten in school bags.
Utah Jones wiped a yellow-latex-gloved wrist across her bare brow, pulling a few limp strands from her eyes and mouth. Piles of discarded archaeological pieces stood sorted in orderly rows to her left: her morning’s work. She’d spent all of the half hour carefully extracting, lightly cleaning, and stacking the worthless artifacts.
So much of her job involved sorting worthless artifacts.
Just then, two aboriginal youth ran into her site. Nevermind that she’d carefully staked out the area; or set up the shiny, illuminated distraction for them. Nevermind that she’d talked patiently with them about disturbing her work. Jones sighed as they ran up to her, babbling and wantonly smacking each other.
She had convinced herself they’d understood; but knew inside, as she’d gesticulated and slowly enunciated, that the savages had actually not heard a word of what she’d said.
The younger native began pulling at her legs. “Fooooooood!” He bellowed, toddler-like. Of course he’d know that word.
Cringing at the thought of the consequences, Jones hurriedly pointed them in the direction of her dwindling food stores. She also cringed at possible future effects on the tribes’ growth based on the “nutritional” value of what she had left in those cases. No matter, she rationalized. Hopefully, this project would be done by the time the sugar hit those children’s bloodstream.
Once again, Jones turned her attention to what she’d managed to unearth so far. She removed the remaining detritus, and finally saw her goal just beneath the shallow, murky water. Grimacing, she reached her right hand into the questionable filth. She fumbled around. She braced against the edge of the exposed hole wherein the obstruction lay.
After an interminable few seconds, Jones’ fingers found a gap. She pushed into it. Water swirling inedible remains quickly drained around her groping hand as she pulled the blockage loose.
She rinsed the cup off, loaded it with its fellows, started the dishwasher, took off her dish gloves, then went to kick her children out of the pantry.