of the nursing home lights cast a blue tone over everything
in its path. Ting, ting, ting the spoon hit the
sides of the glass as she stirred it. Mr. Henley, it is
time to take your medicine
Ting, ting, ting Mr. Henley! Come quickly!
ting ting Mr. Henley! A small, dark
haired boy came racing around the corner, short of breath. Ting
I looked up with irritation from another careful strike of mallet
to chisel poised delicately above a tanned stripe of clay and
wiped a stray lock of blond hair out of my eye in frustration.
Didnt the boy know better than to break my concentration
when I was in the middle of
Mr. Henley! They found
In one fluid movement I dropped the chisel,
grabbed my hat and water bottle in one hand and Azims
little hand in the other and choked through the dusk stirred
up by his little feet Where, boy, where?
up the hill, Azim hanging onto my hand, and I saw with relief
only my partner and his assistant. They were hovering nervously
in front of a small hole nearly hidden by a dune of sand. Quietly,
I blessed Azim for having the wit and stealth to fetch me as
he had. My partner kneeled at the base of the door brushing
some sand out of the way. When he stood our gaze met. Henrys
blue eyes sparkled brilliantly in his tanned face, his gaze
frozen with excitement.
found me in my tent staring without sight into the small mirror,
which was balanced precariously on the table above my shaving
kit. My pressed white shirt lay folded on the chair under my
hand. The miracle of the British abroad: never to be caught
unshaven, or in fact, never, in any way disheveled despite constantly
whirling sand and temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius. My mind
raced with plans, strategies, concerns, fears and sheer delight.
A sigh issued from the mouth of Azim, asleep at the foot of
my cot, and brought me back to the present.
my pen and ink from my bag and sat down at the small table,
under the mirror.
in this Year of our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Seventy Three
aches to have to near me, to feel you in my arms and to have
you here to share this most wonderful of events. I cannot write
in detail, which must speak to the magnitude of the event, lest
this correspondence be intercepted. But I want you to know that
now our sacrifices have not been in vain.
All my hearts love.
A week went by, the door was fully excavated and camouflaged.
Gradually, so as not to arouse suspicion or interest our tools
were stowed just inside the door. As much as I trusted and loved
Azim I kept him under close watch, this was too big to trust
to childish discretion. In the stillness of every evening Henry
and I huddled over map, chart, and myth. The same maps, charts,
and myths that had brought us to divine the location of the
door also promised labyrinthine passages. We were excited about
getting in and concerned, and rightly so, about getting out.
In the dark
stillness of the morning of the eighth day, long before the
blazing sun would rise, the four of us headed, surreptitiously,
toward the door. We were loaded down with heavy clothes, torches,
food and water, in anticipation of what promised to be a dark,
cold and fatefully long day.
the door and began to decide our path through the tunnels, careful
to mark where we had been so as not to fall pray to the tortuous
halls and dead ends. The ancients had gone to great care not
to have their sacred places violated and the realization of
that weighed, somewhat, on my conscience. Since the point when
we would be inaudible to anyone on the outside Azim had kept
up a continuous steam of childish chatter. Rather that being
irritated we were grateful for the touch of reality that it
gave this very surreal descent in the bowels of a civilization.
we went the darker it got, or at least in seemed that way. It
was as though the weight of all the sand above our heads somehow
pressed in upon us. As we neared the site, close to what we
suspected to be the right area, we began to move more slowly
and began reading the hieroglyphics more carefully. Even Azims
comforting chatter had ceased. We barely breathed as we continued
our journey back though time.
we reached the door and the hieroglyphics agreed with our estimation.
This should be the room. The door however was sealed with disuse,
and I began, carefully, with the others staring on, to tap away
at the door. Ting ting sang the chisel as it tapped
ting sang the spoon as it swirled around the glass. Mr.
Henley, love, look at me, it is time to take your medication.