March 15, 193
It was a peaceful awakening greeted with languid stretching and a soft groan of irritation. It could not be morning already. Naomi Dallas turned her head to look at her alarm clock. The red numbers told her it was 3:30 am. In thirty minutes her alarm was supposed to go off and she was supposed to go for a run around the park outside of her apartment complex.
She sat up and turned the alarm off so that she would not have to hear it. The sound that emitted from it made her entire body feel ill. In truth, she was glad that she woke up before it.
Naomi paused and took a moment to enjoy the feel of linen sheets on her skin. It was 1000 thread count. They had cost her a small fortune, but they were worth it. She slept far better between them than she had in any through her childhood. Synthetic sheets were miserable in comparison.
When she decided that she needed to get up and brush her teeth her long, shapely legs slid out from beneath her decadent sheets and her feet hit a woolen rug. It was not the loveliest thing in the world. It was just a plain gray rug on a white linoleum floor, but it was made out of real wool. It was a gift from a farmer who was a fan of hers—it was nice to have sugar daddy fans.
The feel of the cool linoleum made her shiver. She wiggled her toes and headed for the bathroom. It was nothing more than a sink, a toilet, a shower, and a small space for her to fit her body in. If she had been any bigger she probably would not have made the fit.
Habit guided her to flip the switch and study herself in the mirror. She searched for any blemishes or lines. She then pulled the mirror back and took out her toothbrush and toothpaste. Some things never change.
She shut the mirror again after putting a sliver of paste onto her brush and putting the tube back in. She stared at herself as she brushed her teeth. She made faces, practicing the movements of her face as she did every time she looked into a mirror when she was by herself.
When she rinsed out her mouth she smiled brightly into the mirror. “It’s going to be a lovely day,” she said to her reflection. She put the brush back and turned off the light and reentered her bed room. She dressed into some cotton shorts and a cotton shirt. Some would say it was too nice to work out in, but it was what their ancestors had used, so why should she be any different?
She picked up her identification bracelet and slipped it onto her wrist. It had all of her information on it, but it was useless without her finger prints. When she shut the door behind her she stuck the end into the door to prove that she had her chip and set out into a jog down the hall. It was white and metal. It made her eyes hunger for color.
In the elevator she stretched and bounced on her toes. Usually there were a couple of men and women in the elevator worried about their weight. People on television had to be three times more careful than the average citizen.
When she reached the ground floor she jogged out to the sliding glass doors. The complex had its own life support just in case the dome was to crack open, but the doors that sealed the heat and oxygen in and the cold and argon out were hidden in the walls waiting to be needed. Once every week they were checked to make sure they worked properly. Parts were changed or oiled on need.
It made Naomi feel safer about living on a planet that was not exactly hospitable to human beings.
The morning was chilly as it was every morning. Goosebumps rose on her flesh making the tiny hairs stand up straight on her arms. Her legs felt that familiar prickle of goose bumps that could not happen because the hairs had been pulled out.
What women sacrificed for beauty!
It felt good to run. She felt free. She could feel the air mixture filling her lungs, powering her movements. For a moment she felt as though she could be on earth running down the gravel paths in stories. The thick glass domes did not exist. The sun was closer and there was only one moon. Just like in the stories.
Sweat was running down her body when she was finished. She walked back to the complex to cool down her muscles. When she was approaching she saw more people running outside. They were all perfectly fit, but their skin was not as good as hers. Their hair was wrong and ill tended. They were not fit for the camera.
Naomi stopped to examine the flowers outside of the complex around the doors. It made her smile to see them there flourishing as the people who tended them were flourishing. She refrained from touching them. Her teachers in school always told her that touching petals made them wilt. If it was just with roses or other flowers Naomi never knew. Plants were precious.
When Naomi entered her room her personal phone was ringing. She never took it out on her runs, but everyone at work and in her family knew that she was awake. She looked at the name on the belt device and stuck the microphone and ear piece into her ear. “Answer,” she said.
“Hey, Mom,” Naomi said and placed the phone onto her night stand. “Little early for you to be calling.”
“Oh, hush,” she said. “You got up early.”
“I did. Did you need something, Mom?”
“Oh, I just wanted to say hi to my baby girl. You never call your poor mother,” she said with a sigh at the end.
Naomi could almost feel the eye cut. Naomi learned from the best after all. “Oh, Mom, you know you sleep more than you’re awake, and I work more than sleep.”
“You are your father’s child,” she said. “Actually, I wanted to remind you about your father’s birthday. You know it’s coming up.”
“Yes, Mother, I know.”
“Now don’t take that tone with me,” she said playfully. “I call my mother Mother. You call me mom. That is my name to you.”
“Actually your name is Susan.”
“To you I am Mom,” she said in the same commanding tone she had used when Naomi was four and called her mother Susan.
“Of course, Mother,” she replied with the same playful tone. “Do you want to take a shower with me?”
“What? I haven’t given you a bath since you were three,” Susan said. “Why would I want to join you now?”
“Well, I have to take my shower, condition my hair, detox my face, eat breakfast, brush my teeth again and whiten them.” She check her nails. “I also need to get my nails done today. I think the pain is about to chip.”
“I don’t know how you’re my daughter,” Susan said regretfully. “I never paid so much attention to my nails.”
“And that is why you’re a computer engineer at Face Base, Mom,” Naomi said. “I am paid to look flawless and make it look easy. If only my public knew what you knew. I’d be ruined.”
“I think I should tell them just to get you to come home. You know we miss you. Do you think you could get here before the baby is born?”
“I don’t know, Mom. I could probably see if I could make some good work excuse… as excited that I am that my brother is giving me a niece I might have to settle with spoiling her from afar.”
“That’s a real shame,” Susan said. “Do try though? It’s a two day tram ride and I know you won’t fly here. You know, storms don’t actually hurt the ships.”
“They can say that all they want, Mom, but I’m not flying. It’s unnatural.”
“Everything about our lives is unnatural. Oh, this is a waste of your time. You go take your shower. Call me when you’re on your way to work.”
“Will you still be up?”
“Yes, you smart ass. I’ll talk to you in a bit. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom. Tell Dad I said hi,” she rushed before her mom could hang up.
“I will. Have a nice shower in that coffin of yours.”
“Mom!” But she had hung up. Oh well.
Naomi took the piece out of her ear and took her shower. She enjoyed her time in the steamy space. She could feel it cleaning out her pores. She always felt lighter when she stepped out of a shower even if her head felt ten pounds heavier.
Naomi never looked entirely polished when she left to go to work. Someone did her hair and make up at the office. She learned a long time ago that it was easier if she went with a clean face and clean hair. Nothing other than cleaning and conditioning products touched her skin. She dressed in a comfortable pair of blue jeans and a long sleeved shirt as well. They dressed her for the camera. Naomi only had to make sure her body was in top form.
She called her mom as she was leaving her apartment. “Hey, Mom. Miss me?”
“Dreadfully,” her mother said. “When are you going to start dating again?”
“Mother, not his again.”
“You’re a lesbian, aren’t you? It’s all right, darling, I swear. The government loves Lesbians. They keep the breeding crisis down. You know that.”
“Mom, I am not a lesbian. I love men. I love penises. I just am not in love with one right now.”
“You’ve loved plenty of dicks, honey.”
“Mother!” Naomi exclaimed. “Please, don’t say things like that. What if someone hears you?”
“I’m talking to my daughter. I can say what I want.”
“You’re not a farmer, Momma. You can’t just say whatever you want.”
“Well, I’m sure as hell not a politician,” she said. “I’m just concerned, dear. I want you to be happy.”
“I am happy, Mom. I married my job. Remember?” She gave the air in front of her a patient smile. “My job treats me better than a man would anyway.”
“Your job is more likely to dump you when you’re old and wrinkly than a man is. If you wanted a job that would keep you through beauty and crow’s feet you should have become an engineer like your good old ma.”
“You are not a ‘ma’,” Naomi told Susan with a classic eye roll.
“You’re right, I’m not. I’m your Mom. You should really listen to me, honey. You need to find yourself a good man.”
“Good men don’t have money, Momma,” Naomi said. “Good men would cream themselves just looking at my room.”
“That’s vulgar,” Susan said. “Who taught you to speak like that?”
“John,” her daughter answered. “Anyway, it’s not important. Look, I’m not a lesbian, all right?” Naomi received a dirty look from an old woman with a purse dog. She quickly looked away. “I’m just single right now. It’s a dry spell.”
“What does that mean anyway?”
“I think it was an earth term. Rain, I think it was. You know… where the water falls from the sky?”
“I wish I could see it rain,” Susan said wistfully. Her mind was in a place that no one had been to in over two hundred years.
“Me too, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. That comet did one world of a wonder on the surface.”
“It will heal, dear. Just give the old planet a few years and we can go back.”
“Maybe our kids will be able to,” Naomi said thoughtfully. “I’m sorry, Mom, but these deep conversations are going to mess up my skin. Can we talk about something less depressing?”
“Talking about Earth is not depressing. It is hope and the one thing we have to look forward to.”
“Mom, we live in a glass eco-something. We’re Martians now, get over it.”
“I will not,” her mother said huffily. “I’ll believe in Earth even if you don’t.”
“Whatever Mom, I’ve got to go.”
“Oh, you’re just going to hang up on me like that.”
“Let’s see, Mom… we’ve covered my sexual orientation and we’ve discussed our demolished home world. I think we just might be done here. What do you think?”
“You can’t be done with your mother,” Susan said. Naomi could hear water running in the background and her father grumbling something about caffeine.
“I am for right now. Will you be up tonight?”
“Depends on whose night we’re talking about,” Susan said.
“Err… around ten my time?”
“Well, I’ll be up, but I’ll still be at work. Your father wants me to go back to bed. You take care.”
“All right, Mom. I love you. Give dad a kiss on the cheek for me.”
“I’ll give him a kiss all right,” Susan said devilishly.
Naomi rolled her eyes. Her mother was such a pervert.
The rest of the walk to work was uneventful and usual. People were already out to tend the gardens and mind the trees. Even the irrigation systems were being checked. The soil was being scanned and analyzed for nutrition and worms. Everything was carefully maintained in