You’ve never seen me before. But when you reached out and touched me, you knew it wasn’t the first time you did that. You just knew.
Lemmont woke us early, far too early for us to have had any sense of sleep or rest. I don’t think I even stopped shaking yet. Tensions still ran high among my colleagues and bosses, each of us scared out of our skins. But Møller, our director, had this strange, almost delirious-like jitters about him. It was as if he almost couldn’t wait to set foot in the ancient city, regardless of the company.
Gimbald, our chief archaeologist on the other hand, was practically fuming. “They don’t know what they’re doing! We are going to come across something no other civilization has seen, and these Tomb Raider-wannabes are just going to trample the lot looking for something shiny!” She was almost in tears.
What could we scientists and historians do against armed men?
We were surprised to learn that a breakfast was waiting for us, cooked by you and some others of Lemmont’s team. Bowls of simple porridge were handed out to everyone and the meal carried out in silence.
When it came to my turn to receive a bowl, I forced myself to look at your face, to not cower in fear. Much to my surprise, you were staring back all funny looking, like you were perplexed or something. But you then just shook your head and handed me the warm bowl, breaking eye contact with me. Wordlessly, I took the bowl, not thinking much about you or whatever.
I turned away, wanting to rejoin my colleagues but you suddenly touched my elbow. I flinched, at the sudden contact, and the jolt that felt too somatic to be just my imagination. Our eyes met, and I realised.
You felt it too.
That perplexed expression returned and you quickly withdrew your hand. “Um, you forgot a spoon,” you mumbled and handed me one, not looking at me again.
I reached out. For a brief moment, I was tempted to touch your bare hand, to feel if it would happen again, but one of your ‘buddies’ came over, wanting a second helping. Before he noticed our hands suspended awkwardly in front of us, I grabbed the spoon and walked off.
I tried not to think about how my fingers grazed yours ever so slightly, and how a lesser, but similar jolt ran through my fingers to my chest.
I hazarded a look back, only to see you conversing with your mate, as if nothing had happened. Giving myself a mental pinch, I sat down, my back to you, and poured all my attention to my gruel of a meal.
Lemmont came to join our circle and began a conversation about the wonders of the archaeological find. Despite my senior’s best efforts to remain abrasive, Lemmont clearly knew what he was talking about, and soon engaged them in a discussion on what we could possibly find, both historically and physically.
I watched the man. He had a hardness about him; in the way he sat and in the way he watched people. This guy was a professional in obtaining information, and he knew it. His eyes met mine, and I immediately dropped my gaze.
“Pardon about yesterday. I just needed the fastest way to get people to cooperate,” a smirk crossed his face.
“Ever heard of a ‘hello’?” I rolled my eyes.
He chuckled and nodded. “When situations are less dire,” he stood up. “Pack up in 20, ladies! That goes for you scientists too,” he announced.
We complied, but tried to take as much time as possible in packing up, a childish act of defiance. When we were finally done, Lemmont rounded all of us up for a little debriefing prior to entering the lost city.
“And, anymore little shows of resistance,” he grabs me away from my colleagues and drapes his arm over my shoulders, “someone might get hurt,” he smiles at me sickly.
“Clay? Keep an eye on this little bird, will you?” he lets go of me. I squirm away and bump into someone, Clay I presume.
Looking up, I found myself staring into a familiar pair of brown eyes. Your eyes.
You stared back for a moment before nudging me back to my colleagues. At least this time you were a gentler compared to last night. Whatever I felt with you, whatever that shock was, was pushed far back in my mind as me and my colleagues prepared to make our way to the city, a little climb away from our campsite. Aside from our lives, nothing mattered more than us finding whatever we could in the lost city and at least documenting it before your gang tore it apart with your inexperienced, greedy hands.
Writer’s note: A continuation from this one 😀