An artist called Madeleine has come to live next door. I say next door –it’s actually three kilometres away. Like mine, her house is tucked into a bay in the hillside and surrounded by bush, but it’s much bigger than mine. It’s made of a new synthetic material which is light and strong, and can be pre-formed then slotted together on site. The roof has fibre-optics built into it so you can make it transparent, and flood the place with sunlight, or sleep under the moon and stars.
Its construction was a big event for the community, so there was a pretty good turnout for the three days the crew were here, some of us watching and others lending a hand. People brought home baking and portable replicators, and we shared picnic lunches and numerous cups of tea and coffee. Madeleine and the crew were staying at the guest house, and we would visit them in the evenings, chatting round the open air fire, sharing our histories and getting to know one another.
When the house was finished a big transporter saucer arrived, and most of us – including the school children – came to watch Madeleine’s furniture being levitated into the house.
And there was lots of it – more than I’ve seen in a long while, most of it antique and made of wood. It’s beautiful to look at, but since we’re friends with the trees now it feels a bit creepy – like having furniture made of bones. (Of course, the replicators produce furniture that looks and behaves like wood, right down to the molecules – but it’s never been part of a tree, so it feels different.)
And there were paintings and sculptures, and Persian carpets, and objects from all over the world – things that had been in Madeleine’s family for generations. Beautiful, colourful, exotic stuff. And boxes and boxes of books. So we were fascinated.
The children are pretty good at levitation, and asked if they could move some of the boxes in, for practice. Madeleine was happy to oblige. Well, they did it as smoothly as Jim and Jake, our resident levitators, and a bit faster. Jim and Jake laughed uproariously and said they’d soon be out of a job.
Madeleine’s canvases were still wrapped up when they floated into the studio. But she’s promised us a viewing and full tour of the premises at the house-warming party in two weeks’ time, so we’re all looking forward to that.
She seems to have itchy feet, because she’s moved her furniture three times before, building a new home each time. In the old days we might have resented someone having so many beautiful and valuable possessions, and using so many resources to move them about and build new houses. Now we don’t mind. Any one of us could replicate her possessions if we really wanted to, or live in a big house if we wanted to. But we don’t want to. We each live in the way that works for us.
And we enjoy our differences – our different perspectives, quirks, talents, and ways of living. We provide constant entertainment and education for each other. And we have great hopes of Madeleine in both respects.
She’s maybe six foot tall, with wavy red hair that reaches half way down her back, very pale skin and slanting hazel eyes. She’s witty and clever, and a bit larger than life – one of those people whose personality fills all the available space. And it occurred to me that in the old days the women of the area might have been threatened by someone like Madeleine moving into it. We might have given her the cold shoulder, fearing she’d seduce our husbands away.
Of course, in the old days losing your husband didn’t just cause emotional pain – it brought financial hardship, too. It threatened your survival. Now those things aren’t an issue. If a partner wants to leave, they are free to go, without blame. There are no financial consequences for the person left behind, and plenty of emotional support. And there isn’t the humiliation of being dumped for a younger person, because all adults look more or less the same age now, and we’re all beautiful.
Also, with our telepathic skills developing so well, secret infidelity is a thing of the past. But I don’t think anyone would want to do that now.
So in the absence of all the fear, anxiety, jealousy and envy that used to rule our lives, we’re having a lovely time rolling out the welcome mat for Madeleine.
© Sue J Davis 2015
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