It was the first day of autumn, and mystery cooled the morning air in the Adirondacks, in a dense fog.
Whynn was up all night peering into the ruby gem her team uncovered at the ancient site this past summer. She had to turn it in, to the Museum; but she convinced herself to hold on to it for just one more day.
Suddenly, there was a loud bang on the front door. “Who could be coming to call at four in the morning,” she wondered.
She threw her robe over her pajamas, and tip-toed on the cold tiles, down the steps to her front door.
She opened the door to greet the smiling visage of her coworker Meg.
“Heyyy Professor Whynn, we were all worried. You didn’t return to work yesterday. Everything okay?”
“What do you mean?” Whynn said, frowning.
“I was there: you were wearing your favorite ruby red shirt, Sheila from Human Resources, off on maternity leave, brought in her new baby boy to meet everyone. And, Charles in Anthropology, brought Krispy Kreme donuts. I was most certainly, at work yesterday. What are you talking about?”
Seemingly embarrassed, Meg made her apologies and walked slowly away into the thick fog.
The next morning at the exact same time, there was a bang on the door, this time more urgent. Whynn answered the door. It was Meg again. Her red coat damp with dew droplets from the heavy fog.
Almost out of breath, Meg uttered, “You remember all those things you told me which happened, the day before yesterday?”
“Yes—what about them?” Whynn asked, still holding the gem tightly in her palm behind her back.
“Well,” bubbled Meg, “They sort of happened, but not in the timeline you suggested.”
“First,” Meg continued as if making a closing argument in court, “Professor you were supposed to return to work two days ago. However, no one has seen you at work.
Second, how did you know about my ruby red shirt? My husband gave it to me for our anniversary three days ago. How did you know it was my favorite shirt, I told no one that it was.
Third, Sheila in HR just announced by email only yesterday, that she is expecting her first baby, a boy, in February next year.
And fourth, Charles, rest his soul, passed five years ago, before you were hired. He used to bring Krispy Kreme donuts on the first day of autumn every year to celebrate his birthday!”
“This does not make any sense,” Whynn interjected, wishing Megan a pleasant day as she closed the front door, as politely as she could.
Three days later, still holding the gem tightly in her palm, while shopping at Walmart, Whynn saw Meg.
“Hello Meg, how are you? Apologies for my rudeness the other day. I am sorry, I am not much of an early morning person.”
The woman wearing a ruby red shirt said, “I am not Meg, but something closer at hand, Whynn. Do you recognize me? You have been holding me in your palm for the past five days.”
**Part 2 Coming Next Week**