“…world 63,239,430 we have an unscheduled early rise here.” Penny heard a rushed whisper as she padded down the blocky hallway. The unexpected voice stopped the mid-30s mother in her tracks. When she did, the hallway began to change around her. The dim, jagged walls smoothed into bright white. Two sections of the wall on her left disappeared to make room for large bay windows; the sun was already shining on the other side of them. Sunlight flooded the hall while a cacophony of chirping birds began immediately at full volume. As if they realized at the last minute that morning was upon them.
Despite the hallway not having windows the previous day, Penny could not help but stop for a moment and admire the view. A brilliant golden sun hung in a cloudless azure sky. It wasn’t the cold, grey, cloudy weather that persisted over the past month and was promised by the weatherman for at least one more day. Under the sea-like sky, a lush colorful garden replaced her sparse, well-maintained yard. Shades of red, pink and orange in heart shapes stood out from the deep green blanket that covered her property.
“The boys!” Penny admired the enchanting scenery a moment too long before she remembered her children. She strode with purpose to their door at the end of the hall, knocked once as a warning, then walked in.
Albert and Beau, young siblings with a year between them, sat in the middle of the room with a transparent slate between them. They looked up at their mother in surprise. Penny crossed her arms and shifted her weight to one leg; she raised a single eyebrow at them.
“You’re lucky your father is off-world. I’m expecting you to have a reason that made you think it was okay to use his equipment without asking,” she said. Both sets of light brown eyes looked down at the white marble floors; they were once carpet.
“It’s harder than we thought,” 9-year-old Albert said sheepishly. “But, we figured it out. We can put it back to normal before dad gets back. We just wanted to give you a good day.”
“Happy birthday mommy,” 8-year-old Beau added.