“Hate to always be asking, but don’t you have a news meeting to go to?” Cayden eyed Amara as she frantically typed on her laptop.
“Yeah, yeah, but I’ve got to update my vlog.” She bit her lip and continued typing. Since her interview with Professor Brown, Amara hadn’t found any new information for her story. Discouraged, but still hopeful, Amara wrote a post outlining what she knew of her grandfather’s research, how he had spent some time in Mexico studying the ancient Maya and she was hoping to find his old notes for her own story. “All right, done.”
She slammed her laptop shut, grabbed her lucky arrowhead and put it in her pocket. It was clunky and shaped more like a square than a traditional arrowhead, but despite its awkward appearance, Amara treasured it. Her grandfather had bequeathed the arrowhead to her in his will, and it made her feel close to him and safe. It had been five days since she had gotten that threatening note, and she felt she needed some sort of security. For the last five days she had carried her arrowhead with her wherever she went.
Amara didn’t want to tell Cayden about the note yet, at least not before she figured out what it meant. As a precaution, she had started taking Krav Magra classes. If she could protect herself, she reasoned, she could probably also protect Cayden.
“See you later Cay!”
Amara walked out her door and checked the mailbox. For a moment, she felt a knot in her stomach, but she relaxed when she saw nothing there. Relieved, she hopped on her bike and rode the couple blocks to The Eagle’s office.
“All right, for once you’re on time,” Ace said, giving Amara the slow clap.
Amara brushed past him to the news meeting room. “Whatever.”
“Ok, people, let’s do this,” Makenna said.
As everyone sat down and got settled, Amara’s phone vibrated. She quickly checked her text. The message was from Grant. Found another source, it read, Better get over here, quick 😉.
Makenna was busy jotting down notes from an email on to her clipboard. “Yeah?”
“I’ve got to go—something important about my story came up. I promise I’ll be back as soon as I can and I’ll get what I missed from Ace.”
Makenna sighed and looked hard at Amara. “Fine. Just make sure you can get your job done.”
“Thanks!” Amara dashed out of the office and ran to her bike.
“I’m here!” Amara said, out of breath.
“Amara, great to see you.” Grant flashed her a dimpled smile.
“Oh yeah, you too.” Amara brushed her hair out of her face and willed herself to not sweat. “So what do you have for me that couldn’t wait?”
“Here you go.” He took a book out from under the desk and handed it to Amara. “This just came in today. I flipped through it already, and it looks like it might help. Take a look.”
The book was called An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. Amara paged through it, intrigued. The images of the gods and symbols fascinated her, though she was a little disappointed there was nothing about the Calendar.
“That one’s cool.” Grant was hovering over Amara’s shoulder.
“The Maize God?”
“Yeah. According to the myths, the Maya believed their ancestors came from maize. There are a few different stories mentioned in there, but my favorite one involves the Maize God being the ‘First Father’ and basically establishing the world.”
“Interesting.” Amara started to read the entry Grant had indicated. It mentioned the Maize God was connected to the base date of the Maya Calendar, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku.
“So how’s your research going?”
“Hm?” Amara had almost forgotten where she was. “Oh right. It’s going pretty well—I’m learning a lot. Still working on debunking some myths.” She held up the book. “This will help a lot though. Thanks.” She handed him her student ID card.
“Great,” Grant said, swiping the card. “By the way, your other book is overdue. But it’s ok, I’ll waive the fees just this once.” He winked.
Amara smiled as she left the library. Grant was good-looking and seemed interested in her, but after her second time seeing him she wasn’t sure she liked him that way. He was nice, but she had felt more of a rush the first time they met, when she gave him her phone number. Besides, she decided, she was too focused on pursuing her story to have any kind of relationship with him.
But there was one problem. Amara didn’t know what her next step in her story should be. Exhaling, she shoved her hands in her jacket pockets. She felt something in her left pocket, so she fished it out and saw the crumpled note that had been left on her door. The strange glyphs at the bottom of the note stared back at her, seeming to mock her inability to decipher them. Frustrated, she crammed the note into her right pocket, brushing her fingers against the arrowhead lying there. Her hands closed around it instinctively.
Then an idea hit her. She smiled as she pulled the arrowhead out of her pocket, silently thanking her grandfather for showing her the way. If she wanted to find out more about the Calendar, she would have to go to an actual Maya scholar. She would have to go back to Professor Brown.
“Well, Amara, what a nice surprise,” Professor Brown said, ushering her into his office. “So you’ve got more questions about the Maya?”
Amara set her bag down and cleared her throat. “Yes, erm, I was wondering if you could help me translate something.” She handed him a piece of paper with the Maya glyphs on it—she didn’t want anyone to know about the threat, so she had copied only the glyphs onto a separate piece of paper.
Professor Brown studied the paper for a moment. “Yes, I recognize some of these characters. There’s something here about ‘head’…but I’m not sure about the rest.” He handed the paper back to Amara. “How did you come up with this?”
Amara shrugged as nonchalantly as possible. “Just saw it on the Internet and thought it’d be fun to add in to my story. So how can I translate the rest of it?”
“Well I’m not aware of any sources around here that could help, but there’s a small bookstore in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, full of archives, and information. Alma Libre, I believe it’s called. It’s also where a lot of Maya scholars share their findings. Very interesting place. Near Cancun, but much more fascinating.” He winked. “Of course, there are probably some online resources too, but I’m not familiar with any of them. I always preferred going to Mexico to study.”
“Thanks, Prof. Brown,” Amara said, already planning in her head how she could get to Mexico.