“Chuck? Oh, be nice to Chuck. I like him and he puts my check in the mailbox. What did he want?”
“He left a message on the machine. ‘Ah, Professor Fielding?’” Brian began to imitate Chuck’s slow, hippy-surfer cadence. “‘Like, I know you’re not there, but I thought you should know, it’s time to order books for next semester, and I know you’re rilly, rilly busy and all, doing the fieldwork thing—rave on!—so if you want to call me with the titles and all, I’ll take care of it for you, ‘kay?’”
I laughed. “Okay, I’ll get back to Chuck.” Then I was distracted by my rumbling stomach. “I gotta go, Bri, I’m starving.”
“You haven’t eaten yet?” Brian’s voice was filled with alarm. Being hungry was about the worst thing he could imagine.
“Not yet, I’ve been trying to get something for the past half hour now.” My stomach rumbled louder, as if in chorus to our discussion.
Brian sighed. “I’ll be glad when this is over, hon.”
“The dig’s only a couple more weeks.”
“No, when all this is over. When we can have a normal life together, and not spend all our time on the phone.”
It was my turn to sigh. “I know, I know. It’s not forever, but for now, we have to be where the work is. Somerville’s not so far from Caldwell, maybe we can start looking for a new home someplace between Massachusetts and Maine when I’m finished here.” I was employed at Caldwell, a small private college in Maine.
“Maybe look for a house?” He sounded hopeful.
“Not this year, sweetie.” I hated to be a wet blanket, but we’d been over the finances every way till Sunday. It just wasn’t in the cards with the dirt-pay of an as-yet-untenured assistant professor and a chemist who’d only recently made the change from prestigious but impoverishing postdoctoral research grants to a small company. “Besides, we don’t need a house to be together.”