Midday sun streamed through the plane window to your left, so you had to put your sunglasses on and cup your hands around your eyes to keep from being blinded. The nine hour flight was almost over by now and you were just getting ready to land in France. The other passengers around you were eagerly strapping themselves back in to their seats, excited voices rising and falling and echoing in your ears.
Your hands gripped the armrests until your knuckles turned white. Like everyone else, you were beyond excited as well. But, you thought to yourself, you had even more of a reason to be stoked than they did. For you weren’t just any tourist. Oh no, you were the daughter of an archaeologist, fresh out of your first year of university —following in your father’s footsteps by pursuing a degree in Anthropology too— and heading for a summer in central-southwest France to work on his dig site. You grinned to yourself, marvelling at your luck; not even twenty years old yet.
Lost in your thoughts, the plane landed, slowing to a near stop without a hitch. Before you really knew it, you were stepping out into the hanger, and then into the arrival area, scanning the crowd for your dad. It had been a long wait for you, so anxious to get through the last few exams and over here, to France. Just waiting to get out of the boring lecture hall and into the real thing — the field.
“Dad!” you shrieked, and launched yourself into his arms as soon as you picked him out from amongst the crowd. It had been a long time since you had seen him, after all. He had been in France for the past month now, since the end of April.
“[Name]!” he shrieked back, teasingly. He picked you up and spun you in a circle. All those years of digging in the dirt hadn’t eliminated any of his strength. “I missed you!”
“I missed you too, Dad.” You grinned up at him, as he snatched up your luggage and started carting it singlehandedly to the exit, the show-off.
Everything was going by so fast! It might have been hard to keep up to, but you were so excited that at this point, you really couldn’t get to the dig site fast enough. And, you told yourself firmly, that really had no reason at all to do with the fact that Chandler was going to be there too.
“You will be so amazed, when you get there!” your father was saying. “Though there have not been any major finds as of yet, we have managed to unearth several tool artifacts! The cave opens up more and more the farther back we go, but we keep having to reinforce the walls. Wouldn’t want it to collapse on us, would we?”
You shook your head vehemently, eyes bugged out and pressed to the car window as it roared down the highway. You were moving out of the big city now and into the fields, but because this was Europe, town after town after town was really only separated by several farmers’ fields. It would begin to get more mountainous soon, and then you would get to the valley that the archaeological site was in.
“I think we will find paintings on the cave walls soon,” Dad went on. He was so enthused about his work, it was really quite amusing. It was easy to see where you got that from. “It is odd, though. At first we assumed the site had only been a residence for Cro-Magnons —that is, early Homo sapiens— but there have also been traces of skulls that are distinctly Neandertal in origin. Chandler is increasingly convinced it is proof of hybrids.”
You jumped at the mention of Chandler’s name, abruptly pulling your eyes from the scenery flashing by outside. You snuck a glance at your dad, but he caught it before you could pretend it meant nothing.
Dad smiled smugly. “Oh yes, Chandler,” he said. “He’s still the same as he ever was, you’ll be glad to know. Nearly every day since he found out you were coming he’s been asking me when, when, when, nonstop.”
You blushed profusely at his words. Trust that you would have a boy on your mind even when going to an archaeological dig in France, of all things. You shook your head. But Chandler… Chandler was incredible. He was a graduate student from your university and had been working under your father since he was an undergrad. He was a couple years older than you, but ever since the two of you had met, you had got along greatly. Chandler was interested mainly in Neandertals and that was what he specialized on in university. And, not to mention, he was very good-looking to boot. Needless to say, you were really excited to see him again.
When you didn’t reply to your father’s comment, he turned concerned eyes towards you. “Please remember, [Name],” he said slowly and seriously, “that you are here to learn. And that does not include learning about the male anatomy. That should only be learnt once you are at least thirty.”
You choked on laughter at what your dad said and he couldn’t help the grin that slipped onto his face either. He was right though; you were here to learn, first and foremost. Though you were certainly not against having a good time along the way.
“Don’t worry, Dad. I care more about the Neandertal anatomy than Chandler’s.” You smirked.
He didn’t quite know what to say to that but was spared answering. Instead, he peered out the grimy windshield (the road had some time ago changed from pavement to dirt) and announced, “We’re home!”