A Very Special Day
It was raining outside. Again. Little Cora pressed her tiny thumb against the window pane, gaping in delight when she saw her thumbprint on the otherwise misted glass. She peeked behind her, careful to stay out of Ma and Pa's view. Outside, other children darted around through the rain, their parents not far behind with umbrellas. They were all laughing, jumping from puddle to puddle, as if it were the most fun thing in the world. Little Cora pressed another finger into the window, dragging it around to create a circle. Two more dots and a slyly arched curve. She paid extreme detail to the tiny face she drew, watching as the strange mist covered her artwork after a few minutes.
"Erving! Get Cora away from the window!" a shrill voice pierced Little Cora out of her thoughts, and she quickly jumped down from the ledge she had found. Her mother stood before her, an evident look of disappointment on her face. Little Cora bowed down her head, watching as her father also thundered into the room. They both stood in front of her, their arms akimbo, waiting for her to say something. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. Nothing could possibly help her case here. She had gotten close to the window, something they had absolutely forbidden her from doing. Her eyes filled with tears.
"I'm sorry, Ma," she sobbed, "But the window was covered in mist and, and, I went and touched it and it was so pretty and all the other children play outside! I'm always all alone in here, and, and, and!" Little Cora burst into a fresh round of tears, not even finishing her sentence. Her parents crouched down to her level, and her mother grasped her tiny hand in her own. Little Cora calmed almost instantly, and her mother drew back slowly. They spoke in whispers whenever they talked to her, as if they were afraid someone could overhear. And if someone overheard, Little Cora knew this by heart, they would all be sent away.
"It's alright, Cora," her mother said in her hushed voice, "Just be more careful from now on, alright? Now, come on, it's time for lunch."
"Okay, mommy," Cora smiled, skipping after her mother into the kitchen.
Cora slid her finger across the screen, watching as the video was quickly replaced by another. With a sigh, she quickly trimmed off the edges of the video, adding in a few filters here and there to the video. Soft music poured out from the speakers, and swept around the room as Little Cora danced around on the screen. With a smile, Cora quickly duplicated the movements into her animation file, watching as Little Cora turned into a surreal ballerina.
"Cora?" Three knocks. Cora dashed to the door, sliding open the padlock and slamming forth the great, heavy doors. Her father slid in gracefully, bolting the door behind him again. Still too early in the day to be safe.
"Pa!" Cora whispered in a half scream, "You're home early, today."
"Did you forget what day it is?" Pa raised an eyebrow, "The anniversary of the start of Panterra. A nationwide holiday. I'm sure we went over this in our history books."
"It's Panterra Day already?" Cora asked, tossing her screen onto her bed. She couldn't believe she had forgotten such an important event; her face flushed in embarrassment.
"Well, it's tomorrow," Pa laughed, "But the office let us out early so we could all prepare. Where's your mother?"
"She went shopping," Cora answered, "Said she needed to buy syrup. Is it for the Panterra Day fair? Is she going to make those pancakes again?"
Her eyes lit up at the prospect. Despite having to stay at home for the majority of Panterra Day, she loved all the treats her parents brought home with them. Her mother's fluffy pancakes were probably just the frosting on the ten tier cake.
"Of course I am," her mother waltzed through the door, dumping her groceries on the table.
"Ma!" Cora grinned, wrapping her arms around her mother. The woman smiled back down at her, pushing her hair out of her eyes.
"Mah!" her father imitated, putting a distinct emphasis on Cora's elongated syllables. Rolling her eyes, Cora gave her father a light shove.
"Play nice, you two," her mother chided, bustling into the kitchen, "Erving, get started on dinner. Cora, I got you a little present. Here, let's go to your room to open it, shall we?"
Cora's room was perfectly dusted, not a single speck of dirt in place. She took some pride in keeping her room neat; it wasn't like she could do any of the other hobbies the children did. She often tried to run, or jump, but she always ended up causing so much chaos in the house her parents would grow worried of the neighbors finding out.
"I went to the mechanic's today," her mother started, "And he had a few scraps lying around. It's a rather old fashioned design, it's from before Panterra, actually. Then the Panterrans modified it slightly. So, well, I got you enough parts to make your own little Droid.""My own Droid?" Cora breathed. She had seen the Droids whirring about the kitchen occasionally to help her mother with cooking, but she had never imagined having her own. "You can even attach different programs to it. My droids are all House Maid 3.7. Of course, there's a new model called Droid Woman simulator. But, you'll have to get this little Droid working first." Her mother winked, dumping the contents of her bag onto Cora's floor."Happy birthday, Cora," her mother laughed, "I can't believe you forgot again."Her birthday! Of course that was what the special occasion was!