Back into the open air!
“Mom, open your window.”
“Ha, ha, very funny. You know I wish I could more than anything,” she replied over the holophone.
Dexter’s Mom didn’t look a day older than he but she let her hair turn gray during the monsoons. Dexter leaned out his seventy-second-floor window and filled his lungs with the delicate flowery smell that hallmarked the end of toxic air.
“Mom, they let the bees go. I can see them buzzing around the neighbor’s treetops. Open your windows. It’s great!”
“Honey, I’m looking at the news right now and they’re saying two more days.”
Dex waved to kids across the avenue jealously watching him from behind air sealed panes. They ran off to tell their parents.
“I’m patching Jill in,” said Dex as he dialed his sister.
The holophone buzzed five times before the image of his younger sister appeared standing in miniature next to his mother.
“What do you want?” she said, “I’m working you know.”
“See, Mom, she’s outside and not wearing protective gear. The monsoon is over!”
The holographic mother and daughter looked like sisters save for the mother’s silver hair.
“Hi, Mom. The official end day is still slated for Monday but it’s safe in our hemisphere. We’re releasing the animals today.”
Her hologram loaded an empty cage onto the back of a flatbed hover truck.
“Oh my god!” She turned away from her children to yell into her apartment, “Bob, we can go out, it’s over early.”
“I ain’t going anywhere until they give the all-clear,” said a disembodied muffled voice.
“Your father’s such an ass. I’ve been waiting for this day for months. He’ll never let me open a window. I’m heading downstairs.”
“Ok, talk to you later. Gotta work. Love you,” said Jill as her hologram disappeared.
The mom hologram began putting on an environmental suit.
“Mom, it’s over. Nothing but fun in the sun and perfect weather for the next five years!” said Dex.
She pulled on her helmet. “You know the doorman won’t let me out without gear on. I’ll take it off once I’m outside. Want to meet down by the lake?”
“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
“All right, baby.” She flipped down her visor and her hologram vanished from Dexter’s window sill.
Dex leaned way out the window taking in more air and letting out shouts of joy. The three-month toxic cycle when the terraforming stations refiltered the environment was over and the time of being stuck in the house breathing canned air had ended. No more hazmat suits. No more oxygen tanks. No more bulky clothing.
Across the canyon of endless apartments that towered above the jungle canopy, others opened their windows, looked out with joy, and pointed to birds returning to the sky.
Dexter couldn’t wait to walk barefoot through the soft blue grass of Nueva Paraíso. He waved to his neighbors. The word would spread fast and soon the sprawling parks between the glass towers would be filled with the long-missed velvety mauve-colored flesh of the locals.