I was bending down, under a crumbling bridge, scratching at the earth. One, two, three...six, petrified onions nestled in the palm of my hand. They were dark, tiny and shrivelled. I looked up at Professor Ponsonby. He removed his pith helmet and dragged his earth crusted hand across his glistening forehead. “That there, my dear, is what this whole dig’s been about.”

“Oooooomph!” My hand reached down to my belly, to dislodge Perry’s very large, very hard knee and push off the covers. He stirred and mumbled before turning over and inadvertently wrapping himself in the bedding that had come completely undone last night. He looked like the biggest pig- in- a-blanket I’d ever seen.

I was having weird dreams again a sure sign that my stress levels were going off the charts. I could have dreamt about Indiana Jones, circa Raider’s of The Lost Ark, but nooooo .... my subconscious wanted musty old Professor Ponsonby. 

I dragged my feet to the closet and brought out my suitcase. There was a knock on the door. Queenie’s eyes were still half closed when she told me Capt. M would be landing in slightly over an hour. “Thanks sweetie” She sleepily waved aside my thanks as she padded back to her cabin. I poured about half the contents of my closet into the suitcase, zipped it up and shoved it against the wall.

When I got to the galley, John was there, dragging on a Silk Cut, its red tip glowing fiercely, empty coffee cup in front of him. It hit me then, that I’d never seen him in anything else but that damned funeral parlour suit of his. “Christ John! It’s six-ten in the morning! Do you sleep in that?!? He exhaled in my face and looked on as I sputtered and choked. “Luca doesn’t complain. And by the way, this is a--” If I heard it one more time, I thought I’d deck him. “Yeah, I know -$200 shirt”

He eyed me as I scooped up ground coffee into the maker. “You making more than one cup?”  I grunted in reply. “Say dd, I don’t see Knowsfood anywhere who’s gonna feed us when you’re gone?” John had a funny way of saying goodbye; ever the tough guy.  I grabbed his cup and filled it before sliding it back to him.

“Oh I don’t know John- Luca mentioned getting by on four- cheese pizza; she’s great that way, you know; Luca doesn’t complain.” I couldn’t keep the smugness out of my voice but felt better as the hot liquid spread its warmth through my belly. John almost fell off his stool when I snatched the cigarette from his lips, snuffed it out and threw it into the bin. “Those things will kill ya.” I could hear him cussing and flicking open his Zippo as I walked to my cabin.

Perry was still asleep when I got back. I quickly showered and changed, took my passport and shoved it into my laptop carrier. It was almost time for me to leave. I knelt on the floor beside him and pushed the hair from his eyes. “Bye babe. I’ll see ya soon” His lips felt soft and warm. He didn’t stir. Just as well. I’d always hated goodbyes.