Anna gazed at the painted humans along the white background, remembering the ancient Egyptians’ belief in honoring the finest parts of the human form: the healthy chests displayed as the torso was painted facing forward, the faces showed their sleek profiles, and their legs were shown sideways as the figures advanced in a line during their funerary rites. Anna suddenly stiffened, her eyes feeling stuck to the painting, and she instantly resented the health of the painted characters. Suddenly, sobs clogged Anna’s throat, tears collecting her eyes. She clasped her hand to her mouth.
At that moment, David came up beside her and motioned at the picture. “These are the only….” He paused, looking down at Anna. She turned away; however, David took hold of her shoulder, gently pulling her around. Anna pressed her hand against her eye, trying to soak up the tears.
David’s eyes turned concerned. “Come on.” He then took her arm and pulled her aside. Grasping her light, Anna sat down on the compact ground. She put the flashlight down and laid her face in her hands.
“I’m sorry,” Anna said.
David sat down beside her. “What’s wrong? And don’t tell me nothing: something’s been bothering you since we got this assignment.”
Sick with grief, Anna took a deep, shaky breath, feeling as if the tears formed again in her throat. “I’m just not finding what I’m looking for,” she said, forcing the words out one by one.
David gazed at her, unsure. “Proof of the mummy’s curse?”
Anna breathed deep again, preparing to answer. “Yeah,” she said, “but….” She turned aside, not wanting to face David—or the horrible facts—as she continued; then, she turned to David, her eyes more lucid as she started to explain. She stared at the ground, speaking slower and softer. “My brother was in an accident,” she said. “It happened about a month ago when you had to go to that conference in Italy.”
“Oh, no,” said David. Then, he looked at her sympathetically. “And how many times have we gone on expeditions since then?” he said, softly. “Not to mention the times we were at dinner together.” ©Brenna Pierson
Anna sighed and gave David a direct look, expecting him to understand. “I didn’t want to burden you with it,” she said. “Anyway, I stayed with him at the hospital the first week, but after that, it was just too difficult. The accident was pretty bad.” Anna paused to deal with the terrifying words as she spoke them. “He had a really bad head injury, and his ribcage fractured and pierced his lungs—and his heart. He’s been in a coma ever since. The doctors did all they could, but they say at