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Great Expectations

Originally published in Melange #7, editors Barbara Fister-Liltz and Joan Shumsky @ 1986 Pandora Publications

                                      Spring 1941


Marion Ravenwood Jones turned the key in the lock and entered her home. She was surprised to see the study deserted and the fire out on this damp and chilly April evening. Knowing where she would find her husband, Marion headed through the hall to the staircase. Leaning against the banister she removed her high-heeled pumps, then padded up the stairs in her stocking feet, swinging the shoes by their T-shaped straps in one hand.


"That you, Marion?"


She'd been right. Indy was leaning against the bedboard, a pile of pillows behind his back, snuggled under the covers. Stacks of paper were piled on his briefcase which he was using as a desk sitting atop his bent knees. His spectacles were starting to slip down his nose and a red pencil was stuck behind one ear in imitation of a grocer.


Marion sat down beside Indy and kissed him on the cheek, then started to slip off her precious silk stockings. Due to the embargo on Japanese goods, silk stockings were virtually nonexistant in early 1941. Their replacements, made as they were of a new synthetic substitute called nylon, were chronically hard to replace.


"So, how'd the lady land baron make out?" he teased, while continuing to read and grade the paper in front of him. "Going to buy the house?"


"Haven't decided yet," she replied. "I'm not sure if I want to tie up that much money right now."


Indy grunted in response, the red pencil racing over the paper before him.

The small house she had gone to look at tonight would be a good investment. It was already renting for a price which would cover most of a mortgage payment. The other part could be easily handled using the income from her other building--the one she'd bought with the $5,000 Indy had owed her back in '36. Her bank account would cover the down payment, so she normally wouldn't have hesitated.


"I got some other news today-Doctor says I'm pregnant. Marion tensed, waiting for his response.


"Stupid freshmen! Why do they ever let them out of high school when they can't even spell?!" Marion stared at Indy for a moment. Whatever reaction she expected from him, that wasn't it. She reached behind her husband and yanked a pillow out from behind his shoulder blades, bopping him on the head with it.


"Dammit, Jones! Didn't you hear what I just said?"

"I heard you," he answered in a aggrieved tone. "You said you were..." Indy hesitated as what she had said sunk in. "...PREGNANT?!" His head snapped up and he looked her in the eyes, his expression startled, but he was smiling.


"Uh-huh. The rabbit bought it."

"That's great!" He pulled her backwards against him and gave her a quick hug. Suddenly he looked thoughtful and the smile faded, replaced by a frown. "Oh, shit! What about the dig we were going on this summer?"


"What do you mean,'what about the dig?'" she snapped.

"I can't drag a pregnant woman into the jungles of Guatemala to live in the middle of nowhere for three months! You'll have to stay home this time." Indy paused, then added almost to himself, "I'll go by myself."


Wrenching herself out of Indy's embrace, Marion turned and faced him, eyes blazing. "If you didn't want kids you should have said so when we first got married. But no, you said that now we were married, we wouldn't have to worry about precautions anymore. Ha! If I tried to pick a time you thought would be good for us to have a kid, I'd probably be too old!"


"I never said I didn't want kids. If I didn't like them, I never would have adopted Shorty. It's just that if this had happened a few months later, there wouldn't have been any problem. I think this'll be our last dig outside of the States for a while."


"Last dig, huh? That's what you said about Casablanca last year--and it damn near was my last dig!"


Indy's face froze at the mention of their Casablanca dig in 1940. His impetuousness in chasing some relic thieves had gotten them involved in a shoot-out which had left Marion badly wounded with only a fair chance for survival.


His face totally expressionless, the archaeologist stared at his wife, then got out of bed and left the room, slamming the door behind him.


     Marion stared numbly at the closed door for a few seconds, then walked over to her dresser. Suddenly, she picked up her heavy, silverbacked hairbrush and hurled it at the door.


Damn Jones anyway! Is this how it's going to be from now on? Her stuck at home with the kids like all the rest of the faculty wives and him off doing his globe-trotting as usual? Why bother being married at all if you never saw your husband?


Even though she loved kids, she'd been ambivalent about the news ever since she'd received it. She'd spent too long dreading news like this, despite the precautions both she and Indy had taken when they were lovers. Then, before that had come the nightmare year in Nepal, when she'd spent every day dreading the probable failure of her makeshift diaphragm. A baby then, when she'd been forced into working the bar, would have cost her her life, as it would have kept her from working. At least now she no longer had to wonder whether or not she was able to have a child. Her luck had been nothing more than that -- good luck combined with good planning. If she'd ever wanted proof that Indy cared about her when they'd first gotten involved, she knew now that she'd had it. Fortunately, for her, he'd cared enough to teach her how to protect herself.


Calmer now that she had gotten some of the frustration out of her system, Marion was beginning to regret her last remark to Indy. That disaster in Casablanca hadn't been anyone's fault, really. Indy did do his best to protect--maybe overprotect--her whenever things got dangerous on a dig. It was inevitable, she thought as she got ready for bed, that he hadn't even suggested staying home with her and cancelling the dig, if he didn't want her to go. It was something she thought she'd become resigned to over the last five years.


Marion could have dealt with a human rival, but it was hard to compete with her husband's profession. Archaeology would always come first with him, and no matter how much he loved her, she'd never do better than a close second.


     Marion sighed and pulled on the old, worn-out shirt of Indy's that she used as a nightgown. She hadn't heard the front door close, so he still must be in the house. Better go downstairs and see if she could find a way to talk this out with him.




As Marion tiptoed downstairs, she smelled wood smoke, telling her that lndy was in his study. She pushed aside the curtain across the doorway and entered. Indy had pulled his chair up close to the fireplace, and was staring into the flames, while nursing a large glass of bourbon. She noticed he was dressed only in boxer shorts.


Marion went over to the liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle and a glass. Indy's head turned instantly at the sound.


    "You shouldn't be drinking when you're expecting. It's not good for the baby."


"I'm not stupid enough to do something that would hurt the baby. I'm drinking club soda." She held up the bottle.


"Good." He hesitated, then jumped ahead, "Hey, I'm--"


 "Indy, I'm--" Marion stated at the same time.


They smiled at each other as Marion sat on the floor next to Indy's chair, using his legs as a backrest. She squeezed his hand, studying her glass intently before taking a sip.


"I shouldn't have brought up last year. It wasn't your fault. I was just trying to be nasty and get back at you."


"What happened last year is exactly why I think you shouldn't come. That dig should have been perfectly safe and look what happened. The only problem we should have had was getting out of French territory before the Nazis got there."


     Indy absently stroked her hair as he continued. "This trip isn't going to be dangerous, but there's going to be some hard travelling through the jungle. There wouldn't be any problem if you weren't pregnant, but I don't know how the trip--not to mention all the shots and medicines--will affect you. I don't even know if you can take quinine or Atabrine* in your condition. The trip might make you lose the baby. If that happens in the middle of the jungle, I won't be able to get any help. It might kill you this time and it would be my fault. Until that kid's born it's nothing but an abstraction to me, but you're real. I'm not going to risk losing you."


"I've been going on digs since before I was old enough to walk. I don't think a little thing like a trip through the jungle would be enough to make me miscarry. According to the doctor, I should be able to do anything I can normally do, until the last month or two. Don't worry so much."


"Did you tell the doctor about us going on that dig? Did you ask any questions about that or about what medicines you can take?"


    Marion looked sheepish. "Had so much on my mind that I just didn't think about it. We've got plenty of time. I'm only about two months along."


    "Then how can you say for sure that there won't be any problems, huh? And don't give me that old saw about how natural having kids is; how some women deliver their own kids in the middle of a rice paddy then go back to work an hour later. We've both spent enough time in those parts of the world to know that the mortality rate stinks! You're not going, and that's final!"


Marion's dark eyes flashed angrily at his last comment. She swallowed the rest of the soda in one large gulp, then slammed the glass back to the floor with a resounding THUMP! Sometimes that man thought he owned her! With a supreme effort she choked back a sharp reply and forced herself to argue her case reasonably.


"Same reason you can say it's too dangerous for me to go. Why fight about it? We can both go talk to the doctor and find out for sure what would be best. 1 think it'd be a lot easier for all of us if I go on the dig, but take it slow and easy. I'd rather that, than staying behind, waiting for you like the model of a placid little wife, never knowing if you've finally run into some trouble you couldn't find your way out of, knowing even if you did, I wouldn't be able to do a damned thing about it. Worst thing would be, I'd never know for sure what happened--you'd just never come back. No way! I'd make myself a nervous wreck. I'd rather go along where I could be of some help if I needed to. We're supposed to be partners, remember? What the hell kind of partnership will it be if we're stuck on two different continents?"


Indy looked at her, evaluating her argument, then swallowed the last of his bourbon.

"I see your point. We'll decide after we talk to the doctor whether or not you can go. But, if he has any doubts whatsoever, you're staying home, understand?"

  "Does Shorty have any plans for this summer?" "Don't change the subject."

 "I didn't change the subject. If I have to take it easy, or even stay home, it'll help if you have someone else you can trust along. He'd probably jump at the chance to go on another dig with us after being in that mission school all year." She paused. "So, did he tell you what he's doing?"


"He didn't mention anything definite in his last letter," Indy told her. "I'll write him tomorrow and find out if he'd like to come along. We should be able to stretch the grant to cover one more assistant. Depending upon what the doctor says, with the three of us along, this might work out after all."


Indy rested his hand on his wife's shoulder. "'Bout time I got some sleep. I'll have to get up pretty early to write Shorty and finish grading the midterms." Indy paused, getting up from the chair. "You'll be needing your sleep, too--both of you." He helped her up off the floor despite her protests that she wasn't made of glass. Indy then headed over to his desk where he wrote himself a note for the morning:

1. Write Shorty.

2. Finish 102 midterms.

3. Make app't. with M.D.

4. Obstetrics books from library....



*A quinine substitute used to prevent malaria in the 1930's and 1940's.