Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: Visiting Karen's Home
By Seema Bagai
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Karen and I work at the same virtual bank and have become friends. She invited me to her physical world church which wasn’t too bad. Then she extended an invitation to come to her home. For weeks I tried every excuse possible, but she insisted.
The pod landed with a thump. I climbed out and immediately stepped on something squishy and green. How do people walk on this stuff? With the sun beating down upon me, I slogged my way to the front door and searched for the identification screen. Then I remembered Karen had said something about ringing a bell. There was a small button on the wall and I pressed it.
The door flew open. “Amalie, welcome. Come in. Lunch is almost ready,” Karen gestured me inside.
“Thanks for the invitation. I hope you haven’t gone to any trouble.” A delicious aroma filled the room.
“Not at all. Let me show you around.” The first thing I noticed was each room had windows that showed what was outside. The walls were covered with pictures and paintings. I wonder if it’s boring looking at the same things every day.
She pointed out the living room and guest room. “The bedrooms are upstairs.”
There are so many rooms in this place.
I followed Karen into the kitchen. The table was already set and Karen led me over to a chair. Just as I sat down, a brown furry thing ran into the room climbed on top of me. I stiffened, unsure of what to do.
Karen giggled. “Baxter. Down boy. He just loves visitors.” The dog jumped down and sat at my feet.
“Is a real dog as much work as a virtual one?”
“I’ve only had real animals so I can’t compare. My brother has had both and he said real ones are more fun.”
Karen bustled around the kitchen, setting food on the table and calling out for her family. Her children bounded into the room followed by her husband. Everyone was chatting at once.
They bowed their heads and John prayed over the meal.
We dug into the lasagna and salad as we chatted about movies and work. I felt like this was my tenth visit, not the first. The kids ate, cleared the table, and washed the dishes.
“May we play outside?” one of them asked.
“Sure,” Karen replied. “We just bought a swing set,” she explained as the kids dashed outside.
They want to be outside. These kids are strange.
“You must think we’re so backward living in a house like this,” Karen said.
“Well.” I hesitated. “It’s different. Bigger than I expected.”
“Four bedrooms. That’s standard in this neighborhood,” John explained. “There are smaller homes, though, with one or two bedrooms.”
“You should take a look. Some of them even have a transition room for people who still want access to the virtual world.”
“Take your time, Amalie. Come back in a couple weeks. We’re having a block party. You’ll get to know some of the neighbors. Most of them go to our church,” Karen said.
“I’ve met a few people in the Exploration service. They are all really nice, but none of them have access to the virtual world so it’s been hard to spend time with them outside of church. Your neighbor, Tracie, has invited me to her home, too. I know I need to get out of my dwelling more. Small steps, right?”
Thanking Karen and John for the meal, I returned to my dwelling where I slipped on my world-management headband and entered the virtual world. I wanted to tell Tracie about my afternoon, but realized I couldn’t because she did not have a virtual-world communication interface system.
I accessed the physical world network, typed in “new home”, and read through the listings.
It might be nice to have a place where I could invite my new friends. Maybe I can even try having a dog.
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