Amy’s eyes were darting around the small office. Her voice sounded tight to Peter. “Well, I finally had this thing boxed up today. You know, like I’ve been saying I would.”
“Ah! OK, I see what you have inside there,” Peter said, squinting in the dim banker’s light shining on their dark mahogany office desk. He could see, through the plastic, the key lying unceremoniously on a piece of burlap.
“Didn’t want it lying about any more?” he said with a wry smile on his face.
“Now, stop it,” Amy said with some heat. “You know that thing has bugged me since the day I found it.”
“Yeah, I know, Ame. But you haven’t mentioned it for the longest time, so I thought it must have, you know, stopped bugging you,” Peter replied.
Peter cast back in his memory to the day Amy had returned to their Nepalese camp, holding onto the enormous key that had been mysteriously lodged in a stone nearby the fossil dig. It had made them somewhat of a celebrity couple for a few months, almost three years earlier. What a day that had been! They’d argued about the key and whether or not it dated back to the era of the fossil. Neither believed it possible that the key could actually be as old as the fossil it was buried beside, but they also had no explanation for how it got there. Both had argued various points of view, all the way through their meager dinner, which was mostly rice. To this day, Peter still didn’t like rice.
While still facing Amy, his mind lost focus on her while his recollection of that day sharpened. He remembered that as the evening cooled, along with his temper—I never did that well in heat—Amy had snuggled up to him, and in the flickering light of their dying campfire, announced to him he was going to be a father. Even now, he regretted that he laughed and blurted out, “Good one, Ame! How would you know that?” He’d thought Amy was starting up another round of arguments about the key and using this announcement to put him off his guard.What an idiot I was! What woman would joke about having a child? Certainly not Amy.She’d sneered back at him, “Trust me, I know!” After half an hour of apologizing, including on bended knee, he’d finally convinced Amy he was, in fact, delighted by this news. Because he was. Even though it meant leaving their excavation about six months earlier than planned, they had agreed early in their marriage that as important as their scientific research was, they wanted to have a family.
He was horrified just a few hours later when, in the darkest hour of the night, Amy had sat suddenly bolt upright and screamed out from the depths of a nightmare, “Nooooo! Youcan’thave her!” She shivered in his embrace the rest of the night, even though the air was still warm.
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