“Daddy, can we go out today?” Rebekka pulled at her father’s t-shirt.
Brennan ignored her as he poured soya milk onto the cereal in the two bowls.
“Please, daddy. Please.”
“Bek, you know we can’t,” he said finally. “You know the weather’s not good at the moment.” A bowl in each hand he walked over to the small kitchen table. “Now come and eat your breakfast.”
His daughter followed him, the belt on her dressing gown trailing behind her like a lost puppy. After climbing onto one of the stools she picked up her spoon and stared at her food. Brennan sat down beside her, tapping at the surface of the table to call up a list of the day’s headlines from one of the news feeds.
A minute later Rebekka looked up from her untouched breakfast. “Will it be better tomorrow?”
Brennan was busy studying the report of an incoming shipment. “I’m sure we will be able to,” he said in an absent minded tone.
The little girl’s eyes brighten. A broad smile crept across her face. “Really! Can we? Great.” She sucked the milk from her spoon making a slurping noise.
The realisation of what he had said made its way through to Brennan’s consciousness. “Oh, no, sorry hun.” He looked at his daughter as she paused in the middle of another spoonful. “You know the weather’s not going to be any better tomorrow.”
A scowl crossed her face wrinkling tiny blonde eyebrows.
“But you just …”
He did not let her finish. “What season is it?”
“Um.” There was a hesitation while she thought. “Spring?”
“Right, and in spring we get typhoons.”
Rebekka thought of something else. “We did typhoons at school. Mr Sanusi said they didn’t used to be this bad.”
“They didn’t. When humans first settled on this planet it was in a different cycle of its life.”
“Can we go somewhere else then? Mudi doesn’t have typhoons on his planet.”
“Mudi lives a long way away,” Brennan explained. “You would be very old by the time we reached there.”
His daughter tilted her bowl to catch the last of the milk in her spoon. “I don’t mind that,” she mumbled through her full mouth.
“I do,” he told her. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“Ah, but dad?”
“Tidy up your bowl. You’ve got to get dressed.”
“I don’t want to go today.”
He gave her a knowing smile. “Well it’s not your choice.”
“Why do I have to go to school?”
“Just because.” He reached across the table and picked up her bowl, stacking it on top of his. “Now go and get dressed.”
His daughter remained seated, an expression of dejection etched on her face.
Brennan felt himself start to crumble. “How about we go up to the roof and have a look outside before we leave?”
Rebekka’s head snapped up. “Really?”
“Yes, but only if you’re quick.”
She was out of the room before he had put the bowls on the counter top. Ten minutes later and she was back in the kitchen again.
“I’m ready.” She was bouncing with excitement.
“Have you got everything in your bag?” he asked without taking his eyes away from the scrolling headlines he was studying.
The small backpack was placed on the table, right under his nose.
“I take it that’s a yes, then,” he said with a smile. Wide green eyes looked up at him from under her blonde fringe.
Brennan picked up his jacket as they walked out of the room. Behind them the kitchen lights switched themselves off and the display on the surface of the table vanished.
In the elevator the faint hum of movement was drowned out by Rebekka singing quietly to herself. She stopped in the middle of the chorus.
“Is it bad up there today?”
“It’s okay. We’ll be safe anyway,” he told her. “The force field is very strong.”
She thought about this while the indicator next to the door marked off the ascent. It reached ground level and carried on going up. Her father watched as excitement finally got the better of his daughter and she started to shift from one foot to the other. When the elevator halted her movements stopped. She held her breath as the doors slid back. Beyond was a short corridor ending in another door.
Brennan rested a hand on her shoulder. “Off you go then,” he said.
She skipped forward and then turned and looked back. He gave a quick nod and she continued, pushing open the door when she reached it.
Brennan stepped through a few moments later to find his daughter standing awestruck in the middle of the circular observation room. Waves were splashing against the containment field just below the level of her head. Rain bounced off the half which was still exposed to the air. It cascaded down in a never ending river. A powerful wind whipped up the waves but the bubble remained untouched by the pressures applied to it. In the distance, dotted out across the surface of the water, other domes could be seen. Their shapes were blurred by the weather.
Rebekka turned to her father. “I liked the grass better,” she told him. “How long before the water goes away?”
Brennan continued to watch the turmoil outside. “When the seasons change again; another three hundred years maybe.”
25 September 2009
A storm caused Sydney and some of Australia’s east coast to be covered in red dust, affecting the normal passage of life.
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