Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)
TITLE: Out of Time
By Leah Nichols
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Yesterday it had glowed a bright orange color. Today, the hue tended toward red.
She closed her eyes, choking back tears. It's not fair! her thoughts screamed. She hurried in her morning routine, fighting to ignore the implications. Thankful for cooling days, she pulled on a high-necked sweater which would cover the device.
As she tidied the apartment, every item seemed more precious than ever. Pictures of hiking in Iran, surfing the Antarctic coastline, exploring ancient buildings of New York City – each one brought back beautiful memories. The non-metal dishes inherited from her grandmother – who else would wash them with the fondness she had for old ceramic pottery?
Not only dishes had she inherited from her grandmother. The indicator reminded her of that fact.
She pondered the rest of her day. I should skip work. What's the point, anyway? She had walked by the job posts yesterday, and discovered her position open. No doubt it related to the senior team leader noticing her indicator in the washroom last week. Jenae kept it covered, but had bent over the sink just as the other woman entered. Likely they expect me to stop coming any day now, she thought grimly.
Her CP alerted her to an oncoming transmission. She reached for the mobile device and opened it toward the open wall. Her mother's figure materialized in graphic form. “Hi, Mom.”
“Good morning, Sweetie. I thought it best to check on you. We haven't talked lately, and you didn't reply regarding next week.”
“I didn't know how to reply. Agency posted my position yesterday. They obviously aren't expecting me to be around much longer.” Jenae plunged the ceramic tea cup into the dish water and avoided her mother's stare.
“Oh, Honey, I'm sorry. What color are you now?”
“It's not just orange anymore, Mother.”
“Darling, are you ready for this? Have you made out your papers and organized your belongings?”
The process sounded so sterile, so impersonal. Jenae fought down her disgust with her mother's disregard for her feelings. “Everything's been ready, Mom. All my life I've been ready. It's so unfair!”
Her mother stared blankly. “What's unfair?”
“People walking down the street out there with their purple indicators like time is not a big deal at all! And I have to cram every experience of my life into twenty-three short years, living with a lease on time. Which is just about to run out.”
“Well, at least you know, Dear. Just imagine living in the old days when they had no indicators. You would have no idea if you would live to old age or die tomorrow.”
Jenae shook her head. “I think it would be easier. Everyone would have to live with a true appreciation of time.”
“Hmmm. That's exactly what your grandmother would say. She refused to wear the indicator, and see where it got her!”
“How long did she live?”
Her mother frowned. “Not long enough. Jenae, it's a terrible thing to grow up without a mother.”
Jenae changed the subject. “Mother, what did Grandmother say about time? You told me once, and I was trying to remember.”
“Oh, something about everything being beautiful in it's time. I can't remember. I was very angry at her for leaving me, you know.”
“Well, I'm leaving you too.”
“I know, Darling. But I love you for all your twenty-three years, and for every moment I have left.”
“Love you too, Mom.” Jenae closed the CP.
In curiosity, she typed everything beautiful in it's time in the G-device. Eagerly she read the result: Bible. Ecclesiastes 3:11. She read aloud, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts....”
One more thing she had from her grandmother.
Inside the closet stood the old trunk. Jenae walked slowly to her room. Removing her sweater, she grasped the indicator between her fingers and pulled firmly. Clutching it tightly in her palm, she opened the trunk. Removing the Bible, she replaced it with the indicator, shutting the trunk quickly before she could see the color.
Eternity in their hearts.... At least she had a little time remaining to find its meaning.
Inside the trunk, the indicator glowed a bright red.
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