2652 words (10 minute read)

Chapter 1

I was running late. I hated being that person that walked into work late; it was just so unlike me. I had such a strong work ethic that the very thought of being tardy to work caused me to involuntarily shudder. I didn’t have to worry about getting in any trouble though, the people at space agency where I worked, were always good to me. I think they understood, or at least tried to, that being a single mother sometimes meant that you were going to be late sometimes, no matter how hard you tried not to be. Believe me, I tried. But sometimes finding a cheerio on your sweater in the morning caused for a whole wardrobe change.

I dug around in my underwear drawer for a pair of socks wishing badly that I had time to do the laundry. Hopping around on one foot I managed to get both socks on without further issues. It’s amazing how the moment you realize you’re going to be late you suddenly become even more of a klutz, causing further delay. I marched out into the living room where my mother Annette was sitting with my daughter Rose bouncing her on her knee. That little girl was the apple of my eye and she was currently trying to squirm her way out of grandma’s arms to come and see me.

“Oh Rose, don’t go making your mother late, come on now.” She was trying very unsuccessfully to keep Rose on her lap.

I giggled. “Well one kiss won’t make me any later than I already am.”

I bent down as my three year old daughter ran into my arms. I breathed in her sweet scent and squeezed her tight. I wanted more than anything to curl up on the couch with her and go back to sleep breathing in her smell. She was the most precious thing to me in the whole world. As hard as it was being a single mom I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I kissed the top of her head and wished for the millionth time that I didn’t have to go to work. I hated leaving her and sometimes it felt like I never saw her. That was the life of a single mother, working so hard to make a good life for a child you rarely got to see. Rose was with my mother all day long and by the time I got home from work there wasn’t much time to spend with Rose before she went to bed. Sometimes I was selfish and kept her up later so I could read her stories but it wasn’t very often.

My mother was a lifesaver; she was retired and a widower so she had the time on hand to help me with Rose. I didn’t know what I would do without her. Having a child on my own had never been my plan and the first year with rose had been terribly hard. Despite the fact that she was a great help to me, I longed for the day that I could allow her to have her life back. She should be enjoying her retirement, possibly travelling not spending her days babysitting my child. Not only that but I happened to be a grown woman who was still living with her mother. It just wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. It was embarrassing if I was going to be completely frank about it.

Rose looked up at me and I smiled down at her. “Mommy has to go sweetheart.” She pouted her lips and I felt that familiar pain in my chest that reminded me that I worked too much. I stood up and looked to my mother who came to retrieve Rose. She scooped her up in her arms.

“There you go Rose. Grandma is here now, we have to let mommy get to work. The sooner she leaves the sooner she can come back. Isn’t that great?”

I rolled my eyes trying not to laugh. “No dream screen today Mom, I’m warning you.”

“Heavens no Carly. You know darn well that I don’t let her watch the dream screen. I only do that when she naps. I need to catch my shows darling, you know that.” She had a twinkle in her eye. I snorted, “Yeah sure mom, whatever.”

“I remember someone who loved to watch her soaps. All those dreamy men with their big muscles.”

I laughed. The dream screen had been an incredible invention. I was too young to remember television in its infancy. I was never around to watch it on flat screens or the tube as it was once called. I had a hard time even picturing them until my grandfather showed me pictures of the one he had. The stories my grandfather used to tell however seemed so bizarre to me. To have something sitting in your living room like that it was so awkward. The dream screen just made so much more sense. Television was a thing of the past now. Research had brought us a new type of vision called the dream screens. The machine brought you into your own dream world and from there you selected whichever movie or show you wanted to watch. It was an amazing tool that also allowed the blind to see, that was my favorite part about it. I couldn’t imagine how limited TV had been back in my grandfather’s era. I was adamant that Rose was not allowed to watch it because her imagination often ran wild with her. I suspected however that there were times my mother let her do it anyways. She came up with some of the craziest conversations and I had to bet they originated from the dream screen.

I grabbed my purse off the counter and kissed my mother on the cheek. “Thanks mom, I will see you later. Have a good day.”

“Have a good day at work sweetheart. We will be just fine here, don’t you worry about a thing.”

I smiled sadly and turned away from my little family.

When I stepped outside into the warm sun I took a moment to take a deep breath. My life was so hectic these days and yet I had a good life. I was proud at what I had accomplished despite my limitations. The year was 2100 and New York had changed a lot over the years. As technology progressed it seemed as if things were dramatically different every year. I was blessed to have gotten a job as a janitor with Space agency. Some might say it was a lowly position but I could do a lot worse than work for Space agency that was for sure. They treated their employees with respect and the wage was far better than I would get anywhere else. It was only short term anyways. I had a plan and it was only a matter of time before my life would be significantly better. That was all I wanted for myself and Rose.

Before Rose came into my life I was attending Georgetown University working tirelessly on a degree in Astronomy. I was dating the love of my life, my high school sweetheart Antonio and the sky seemed to be the limit for me. I dreamed of the future that we would have together after our graduation as we started our life together. I was living my own little dream, my life had never been better, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I had big hopes for the future; I had always dreamed of working for NASA but had never anticipated it would be as a janitor. Finding out I was pregnant with my darling Rose had come as a great shock to both Antonio and I, especially since natural pregnancies were a rare thing these days. People didn’t use *** to procreate anymore, that was so 2016.When it came to planned pregnancies, babies were made in test tubes. Everything was planned to the tea, there were never any mistakes. It was actually rare to have an unplanned pregnancy though Antonio and I realized very quickly that it was still very possible.

When it came to having a family in 2100 you simply went to the doctor and set up for a test tube conception. It wasn’t done in the old fashioned sense between a man and a woman though it was certainly possible to. But with the advancement in technology everyone wanted the smartest and most talented baby and that could only be made in a test tube.

A test tube baby was born with DNA chips inserted inside them. The DNA chips were programmed with any talent that the parents chose. The talent could be anything the parent longed for whether it is sports, art or higher intelligence. A parent could essentially create the child of their dreams in a test tube. It was all the rage these days. DNA chips could only be inserted into babies; adults were out of luck because the age of their brains were unable to accept the new technology. Research was being conducted in the hopes that one day they could insert the DNA chips into an adult brain. The downfall if you could even call it that, of Rose being birthed naturally was that she didn’t have the advantage of having her future planned out for her. She did not have the same DNA chip inserted in her brain as the test tube babies did. In fact we had no idea what little Rose was going to excel in. It was an odd thought. Most other children her age had their future set in stone, their talents already decided for them. Everything was up in the air for Rose and I looked forward to what my daughter would be when she grew up, but not knowing also terrified me. She would be so different from the other children her age and I worried she would suffer because of it. The abilities of the new test tubes babies were certainly enthralling. It was all very fascinating and I longed for the day that I too could be involved in the sciences. My love of astronomy was growing every day.

Finding out I was pregnant had come as such a shock to both us mainly because we had always been so careful with birth control and secondly because we always believed that when the time came to start a family we would have our own little test tube baby. Nevertheless after the shock of finding out that I would be making a baby the old fashioned way, I was thrilled about it. I always believed we would be one big happy family one day, so what if it came a little sooner that we thought? Antonio on the other hand thought something else entirely. The news that I was pregnant actually horrified him. In the end Antonio hadn’t been willing to commit to me and left me before Rose was even born. I wasn’t sure where he had gone, but I never saw him after that. It had been a terrible breakup with a huge explosion; I had been devastated by his departure. He didn’t feel like he was ready for a family or a commitment of that degree. I had been lost after he left. I had no idea how to go on without Antonio, or even begin to understand how someone I had loved so much had just walked out of my life. I had been forced to raise Rose all on my own and move back home with my mother. I dropped out of school for two years and that was when I took the job in Space agency in the janitorial department. I had been in school for the past year taking night courses, slowly working towards the degree I so badly wanted. There wasn’t a day that went by however that I didn’t think about Antonio and where he had gone.

Shaking my head I tried to dislodge those thoughts from my brain. If there was a chip that allowed me to forget the pain that Antonio had caused I would have had it inserted immediately. Remembering that I was late for work I trotted down the steps and got into my car.

I liked listening to the news on the way to work; it took my mind off of Rose and prepared me for the day. I pushed a silver button on the console that started the car. The car housed a small screen in the middle of the dashboard that resembled old GPS systems. The screen however could access just about anything you desired except for the nuclear launch codes. You could practically run your whole business from your car if that was your desire. The car was my mother’s but she let me use it since she was home all day with Rose. I longed to have one of my own however; hopefully in the future I could afford to buy not only a car of my own but a home too.

Every day I travelled from my hometown of Maryland to the city of New York which housed my office . It didn’t take me too long to get to work every day but the fact that it wasn’t close by just meant that it was more time I had to spend away from Rose. I had to stay focused however, I had a plan and I knew that I was smart enough to accomplish anything in the world that I wanted to; it was just a matter of time.

Before backing my car out of the driveway I clicked on the news link featured on the screen. I had to scroll through a few stations before I started listening to anything of interest. I wasn’t interest in the latest serial killer or what celebrity was on Instagram that week. I wanted to know what was going on in the world of politics. It was hard to live in U.S and not be interested in what was being decided at the White House. I stopped scrolling when I heard two political commentators arguing amongst each other. A smile played on my face as it was always my favorite part of the news. I loved a good debate. The commentators were arguing about the disadvantages or advantages of spending huge amounts of money and energy on space exploration. They felt that space exploration was a waste of the resources. What were we really going to find out there one of the commentators stated? What was the point to it all?

I nodded slowly as I listened. They were arguing that the energy and money would be better spent on making human life more useful. I had to agree with them though I wasn’t sure how much further the advancements could really go. I mean we were literally making our own dream babies. What more could we ask for?