Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Autumn/Fall( 08/27/09)
A Ridiculous Use of Mother's VidWall
By Jan Ackerson
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It had taken weeks for Carin to convince her to have the TelePort installed; the final straw had been an appeal to grandmotherly love. “Don’t you want Trista to know her grandmother? You’re three miles away. Be reasonable…now that we’ve gotten you out of that horrible…house and into a sensible Commu-Dwelling, it’s only natural to get a Port.”
And Mother had finally relented, with a slump of her shoulders and a defeated sigh. “People just don’t walk nowadays, do they? Why do they even need feet any more, Carin? When is the last time you went outside? I remember how much you used to love playing outside, dear.” She had reached out and tucked Carin’s coppery hair behind her ear, a gesture of affection that Carin impatiently endured. “Why, Trista has never even seen a blade of grass or a tree, has she?”
“Oh, Mother. Trees. What’s the need to look at trees, when there are so many more wonderful things to view? Say, you need a VidWall installed…I’ll order it when I order your TelePort, you’ll just love it. You can view the Survival Games on Mars…Universal Court Proceedings on the Kuiper Asteroid Belt…Venusian Romantic Comedies…”
But Mother had sighed again, and turned away to make a cup of coffee—the old-fashioned way.
All that had been two weeks ago, and now Carin had arrived to see her mother’s new VidWall, and to see that she was using all of its features correctly. She stepped out of the TelePort and ran a hand over her hair; Mother was always fussing with it, proclaiming her wonder that Carin had inherited her father’s reddish-gold hair color rather than her own dark brown. She didn’t want to have that conversation for the millionth time—she just wanted to be sure the VidWall was working correctly, and then make a quick exit.
To Carin’s dismay, the VidWall was indeed activated—but it was showing some sort of a forest scene, the trees heavy with leaves in fiery colors. She watched for a few seconds, silently; apparently Mother had not heard her arrival. The trees were moving with the sigh of a breeze, and Carin could hear a bird—a mourning dove?—in the background. For a moment, a memory stirred…
“Mother!” Carin strode into the room. Mother was seated on her Molds2U Chair, facing the VidWall, a peaceful smile relaxing her features.
Mother stood and gestured at the VidWall. “Oh, Carin, thank you so much! Isn’t it beautiful?”
“What are you viewing? For the love of Wozniak, Mother, this isn’t a window. Here, let me show you…” Carin reached for the control panel.
“No, dear, please leave it be. I figured out how to play some scenes I recorded years ago, back at the house, and I just love this one. Look at those leaves, Carin! Why didn’t you bring Trista, dear? I’d love her to see this…”
Carin glanced at the VidWall again. Nothing was happening there but the wind in the trees, and the occasional call of the mourning dove. She gave the scene a full ten seconds—perhaps, she thought, the uninteresting scenery would morph into something sensible. Could it be the holo-logo for one of those quaint retro-vacation spots? But the only action on the VidWall was that of several leaves detaching and floating downward in a lazy, random motion.
With a snort of impatience, she headed back toward the TelePort. “It’s obvious you don’t need me. You’ve figured it out, but it’s beyond me why you’d use it in such a ridiculous manner. I’ll be back with Trista on Wednesday, Mother. Please see to it that the Wall is playing something worthwhile when we come.”
As Carin returned to the TelePort, she missed seeing her mother, leaning forward to watch something at a lower corner of the VidWall. If she had turned around to look, she would have seen a little girl with hair the color of an antique penny, shuffling with delight through piles of golden leaves.
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