“Lisa, you’re only going to be home a week?!” Greydon’s expression was both shocked and sad. “I was hoping we could go camping and see what birds we could spot. I’ve got several unusual species to my credit, and I was hoping we’d spot more up in the old forest.” He looked so upset that Melisa felt guilty.
“I’m sorry, Grey, but if I go on this six week dig, I can earn enough credits to finish my Archaeology course. And I can earn several extra credits in Astronomy, too. That would mean I can finish both in just over two years. Then there is only the Physics course, and I will graduate, a whole year early. I can get an assistant’s job at the university then, and work on my Masters and my PHDs. I’ll be home a lot, then.”
“Yeah, but by then I’ll be in university! We won’t have the time to do those things.”
Melisa put her arms around her brother. “We will, Greydon, I promise. We’ll have a couple of weeks this summer, when the dig is over. It will still be good weather, and we can go camping then. Get everything ready, and we can leave the day after I get home. That will give us two weeks. I’d like to spend a day at least here, with Mom and Dad, but even then, we’ll have twelve days. I think it would be great fun. Ok? And besides, with you on campus, we can do things together often.”
“Ok, I’ll hold you to that promise.” Greydon looked a bit happier. “I can still go to our bush and see what I can find there. I discovered a fox’s den there last week, with three kits. I’m keeping an eye on them so we can take measures if they look like they’re going to go after the poultry.”
“Yes,” Dad rumbled. “Don’t want to harm the critters, but don’t want them harming us, either.”
“That’s true,” Mom said, “but Melisa, that means you will be living rough for the whole summer! And you are pushing so hard, I’m worried about your health. Don’t you think you should take it easier? What kind of life do you have at university? If you are that far along on all of your courses, you can’t have time for any kind of social life. All work and no play, you know.” Mom put her hand on Melisa’s.
“Don’t worry, Mom, I get plenty of relaxation. I swim three evenings a week, and play volleyball or floor hockey at least once a week. And we have dorm parties, or go pub-crawling on weekends. And don’t worry about that, I only drink sodas or tea. And I do get enough sleep, so don’t fret about that, either. I’m just finding the work fairly easy, so I got the Profs to let me forge ahead. I even do some tutoring with the ones who are having a hard time – and they pay me!” Melisa grinned.
“Well, if you’re sure,” Mom said. “Anyway, it’s good to have you home for a few days. What do you say to a trip to the county fair on Saturday? I’ve got pies and preserves entered.” She smiled shyly.
“Oh, Mom, that’s great!” Melisa hugged her mother. “Of course, you’ll win first prize. No one makes better pies or preserves, especially your pear cinnamon jam. I hope you have some on hand, I really miss that.”
Greydon laughed, “Yup, I made sure she didn’t give it all away. She even has some jars packed away for you to take with you.”
“Hooray!” Melisa jumped up, pumping an arm in the air. “That will go a real treat after a hard day sifting dirt!” She hugged everyone, even the cat. “I think a trip to the fair is just perfect. I have to be sure and take lots of pictures, so I can remember it all while I’m away. I do miss you all very much, but I am also really anxious to finish school so I can start on my real life. Wherever that takes me, I’ll always come back here. This is Home.”