Enter Edna’s Garden and discover how an 8-year-old girl with a passion for nature will turn the world upside down with her data models
A story by Miquel Morales.
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Once the bell that signalled the end of the school day rang, Edna waited for her classmates to leave the room while pretending to review some notes from what had been a seemingly never-ending lecture about early Internet era social networks. She didn’t have to wait for long; it had been a particularly boring one, and the other kids rushed out through the door. Boring not because of the topic –Edna found it fascinating that people back then would go around posting photos of their faces with dog ear filters on– it was more a problem with Mr. Barnum’s teaching methods. The aging history teacher had a correspondingly aging way of presenting information. He barely touched the holo-node at the centre of the classroom. Instead, he insisted on bringing from home one of those old screen projectors to illustrate his lectures. It was so unpractical, being able to show only one image at a time on one of the classroom walls as opposed to the holo-node, which displayed a personalised, interactive set of screens for every single student. But Mr. Barnum loved his gadgets, and the school loved Mr. Barnum.
When the last classmate had left, Edna opened her bag and took out her sister’s old wristband. The unassuming bracelet displayed a holographic menu when Edna touched it. She scrolled down the various items and made sure that everything was set. Perfect. She hid the bracelet under the sweater’s sleeve and started making her way out the school’s premises.
It had been nice of her sister to let her borrow her old band. It was way clunkier than the latest model Dad had bought her for her birthday, but it would still do the trick. As an 8-year-old, Edna was not supposed to have a wristband. After early-21st century research had proven that too many screens could negatively affect children’s development, official guidelines had been put in place to limit tech use to the essentials for kids under 10. It was also a great way for parents to control their kids, as almost nothing could be done these days without a wristband. All serious payments required one. It also stored official identification documents and worked as the main point of contact for services ranging from cars to file exchange. Underage kids carried instead a physical ID card with very limited capabilities. As limited as their parents wanted them to be, which, in Edna’s case, was completely.
“Well, hello, young lady. How did the day unfold, learned much?”
Peter the butler had been waiting for Edna just outside the school gates to escort her back to the apartment. Edna could tell in his eyes that he didn’t enjoy too much his prison guard role, but he was a man of principles who did what had to be done. Thankfully, that often included not telling her Dad and Bianca about Edna’s little adventures. Unfortunately, he would not be convinced this time around. Edna’s behaviour had “crossed a line,” as Bianca had said.
“Just that old habits never die, Peter.” Edna strolled down the street without making eye contact. Peter was good at reading her face, and she was nervous about what she was about to do.
“Well, if you are talking about your stubbornness, young lady, I can tell you that much is true.”
Central Park West was packed with school kids returning home. As they made their way down the avenue, Peter and Edna had to sort through the groups of frenetic children unleashing their wildest side after a full day indoors. Edna watched how one of the groups passed a ball above the park’s wall, one half on each side of it. She saw a red-headed woodpecker resting on one the still leafless branches of one of the trees right across the fence. A rather big male for the species, or so Edna thought. She wondered what The Pond would look like right now. Surely the flower buds had started insinuating themselves in between the plant stems. It would be Spring soon, and the ducklings were probably just about to hatch. Edna thought of her favourite duck family, a curious group made up of an older matriarch and three younger males who she had to police more often than she probably would had liked. Maybe she would have to handle a few new additions in the coming weeks.
“To be honest, Ms. Edna, I must say I am surprised of how well you have taken this whole being grounded scenario. At first, I thought you it would take you less than a day to run away or put up some sort of fit. But I must apologise for jumping to conclusions too quick. After all, you will soon be a grownup, and you are clearly becoming more responsible and focused. In fact, I…”
Edna was gone. She had taken advantage of the crowds that formed at the traffic lights in Columbus Square and vanished as soon as Peter directed a confused look at a young couple dressed in matching neon-lit outfits. She was now descending into the subway station, feeling a wave of excitement and anticipation as she jumped down the stairs looking over the shoulder for any signs of the butler. With no pursuer in sight, Edna crossed the station’s hall and used her sister’s wristband to access the boarding area. She tried to remember what her sister had told her. Just hold it close to the screen on top of the turnstile, on the left-hand side.
As strange as it sounded to people whose family was of more humble means, the subway was an alien place for someone like Edna. The only subways she had ever seen were those that appeared in holo-movies and shows. Peter often said how fine and efficient the subway was, a marvel compared to the rusty, rattling subway system that was held together with scotch tape until the late 2030s. But, as far as her memory went, Edna’s only ways of transportation had been the family’s car, taxi cabs and the occasional bicycle ride around the park. No wonder she was desperate to run among the trees and get her clothes dirty with mud. She had spent her entire life in a very fancy and expensive cage. But thankfully, that cage had a little garden in it called Central Park. Or at least until Bianca got her grounded.
Edna got herself into the first train bound for downtown and looked at the screen displaying all the stops in the line. Chinatown: 7 stops. It shouldn’t take too long. Or maybe it would take that long; Edna had no idea of how much time it took the train to go between stops. But wait. She had a wristband of her own now. She manipulated the menu until she found the answer.
Estimated arrival time: 10 minutes.
To be continued…
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