The fossilized footprints of a tiny, undiscovered Triassic dinosaur secreted away in Felicia’s enormous backpack will one day leave a permanent impression on her life.
She chipped them from the Chinle Formation – inside Many Lost Ways National Park – so if the small square of stone is found out, it’s a $10,000 fine and three years imprisonment.
But she sees herself as a scientist and isn’t she here doing research for her BS in geology?
She closes her eyes and daydreams with the sun on her face.
Yes, a scientist and one day that stone, carefully polished and mounted, will hang behind her desk and students will marvel at its beauty and the brilliant professor who collected it.
That’s the dream but here’s the problem: Felicia is a struggling student. Geology isn’t her passion.
Cutting and polishing stone is and she’s darn good at it. She has a remarkable eye for the textures and colors, which suits her more to a career in countertops or terrazzo floors – good paths in an age of diminishing craftsmanship – but we’ll get to that.
First she needs to graduate.
(Don’t worry about the Federal Penitentiary. She won’t get caught.)
Felicia is carrying a 2.73 grade point average. It is her final semester. She needs every one of the 20 credits on her schedule to receive her degree.
Fifteen credits are actual classes and she’s pedaling hard for four Bs and a C. The other five credits are the self-study “senior symposium” she sold to the guidance office.
Add Working the System to polishing rocks. She’s good at that, too.
She’s convinced the school that a seven-day backpacking trip with her friend Cameron (an actual geology student) is worth five credits. They’ll co-write a paper, give an oral presentation and voila, she’ll walk the stage with a 3.0.
Then a half-hearted effort at getting into grad school, but she doesn’t really want it and she can’t overcome her transcripts anyway. She will apply to three schools and be accepted by none.
There’s a guy who loves her and they’ll do well. She’ll fall back on her Way with People and sell corrugated packaging, adjust claims and eventually inspect worksites for OSHA. (Good thing that Federal background check came up clean).
Years from now she and hubby will move into a new house. The granite countertop guy will be there when the movers split open a fatigued old box and the fossilized footprints of a tiny, undiscovered Triassic dinosaur will tumble out.
A pot of coffee and a long conversation later, she’ll partner with the countertop guy and the little contractor will do $7 million the next year.
During that year, Professor Cameron will lead her annual “senior symposium” to Many Lost Ways. Secreted in her giant backpack will be the fossilized footprints of a tiny Triassic dinosaur. She’ll have a decision to make: Discovering them would define her career, but she will probably just leave them behind.
(Scratchbuilt Play-Doh backpacks, Preiser figures.)