It was Saturday morning, 2033, and Claudia felt like she could take on the world. When Claudia woke up, like most people her age, she thought that she already knew every single thing she would do until her day was over. Claudia was already 18 years old, and she had never fallen in love or gone in an adventure. She was just an ordinary girl that wanted to become extraordinary. Claudia dreamed of traveling across the world and of finding her soul mate.
She lived with her aunt, Sally, ever since her parents disappeared. They had been in a plane accident two years ago. The last thing the news had said was that the plane fell on an island, and no trace of human life had ever been found. Experts have never dropped the case, but Aunt Sally did not tell this to her niece because she did not want to give Claudia false hope. Sally tended to be very pessimistic. Throughout the week, she went to school and played soccer every single day. On Saturdays, she went to have breakfast at her local Tiffany's, and then she helped her aunt to design clothes, a passion of hers. She snapped her fingers, and her iWatch complied with a hologram readout of the time; it was 9:00 AM.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's in an hour, yay!" Claudia sarcastically said to herself out loud. She was sick of going to Tiffany's every Saturday, but it was sort of a tradition that her aunt had created with her throughout the years.
To her luck, this day would be different from the beginning. Just as she stood up to go take a shower, Sally knocked the door.
"Get ready, Claudia! You have an interview at 5:30 p.m, so we have lots to do before, young lady!"
'Interview? An interview for what?' Claudia thought. She was going to open the door to ask her aunt, just as Sally entered the room with a bright smile on her face.
"Surprise! The applications' interviewer from Cornell University has come all the way here to interview you today. The request was sent out over a month ago, and I accepted it without telling you because I knew it would be a great surprise, since it has always been your top choice. The interviewer was impressed with your application, and he is eager to meet you." Aunt Sally said.
"Oh my god. Oh my god, what? What the what? Oh my god. Oh my god, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod! I am so happy that I can't even think!"
"Don't worry, Claudia. Just be yourself. I called him from my iWatch to set up the meeting, and he looked extremely young in the hologram. Actually, he looks so young that you should just imagine that you are chatting with a student."
Claudia ran to the bathroom, speechless. This would not be a typical Saturday, not at all.
"Shower on! Cold water, please." she shouted to the Siri that was on the wall. Immediately, the cold water started running in the shower. She bathed herself the fastest she could, and she headed up to her closet.
"Siri, I need Helen to bring me my red sundress, my sparkly headband, and my golden sandals."
Immediately, Helen entered Claudia's room with everything Claudia had asked for.
Everyone had AIs and personal attendant robots these days. Siri, as they called theirs, was integrated into every room, capable of picking up spoken requests with extraordinary precision. Once it received a request, it would use the house's wireless network to coordinate tasks and ensure the smooth and proper functioning of all devices and appliances, for a better home experience. You could customize your robots name, and Claudia had named hers Helen because that was the name of the protagonist of her favorite TV show, "The Integers."
Over an hour later, Claudia was all dressed up and ready for her interview. Her hair had the most perfect curls it had ever had, and she also had little make up on, with the intentional purpose of looking pretty, but natural.
"You look so beautiful! I can't believe you're already a young adult. Time goes by so fast!"
"Thanks, aunt Sally." Claudia said, as her cheeks blushed.
"Ok, let's get moving. Let's go eat something delicious, whatever you want. I guess our Saturday traditions will have to be paused for the weekend, because you will need the rest of the afternoon to prepare.
'Yes! No Tiffany's pancakes today.' Claudia thought as a semi-smile showed up on her face. "I think I'm in the mood for some eggs benedict. Perhaps we could go to Sara Beth's, I love theirs."
"Sara Beth's it is."
Sally was so excited for her niece, that she let Claudia play her loud music. They usually heard Sally's songs, since she needed to hear relaxing music while driving.
The moment they entered the restaurant, Claudia felt her eyes pop out. It was so crowded!
"Good morning ladies, welcome to Sara Beth's." the waiter said.
"Table for two, please." Claudia said nervously, as she looked around the place. 'Don't panic Claudia. This is your day. You will get a table. Do. Not. Panic.' Her thoughts were going to eat her alive if the waiter did not respond instantly.
A family of five was waiting for a table too, but luckily, the only table left was very small.
"This way ladies." The waiter said. Claudia took a big breath; she was relieved. Those couple of seconds that the waiter took had felt eternal.
"I will be serving you this morning. Today's specials are Lobster Eggs Benedict and Captain Crunch Waffles. I will give you some time to decide."
Sally and Claudia looked at each other and laughed, as they both thought 'This is so much better than Tiffany's.' Their eyes continued to sparkle as they read the menu that was being displayed to them on a tablet. When they were ready to order, they snapped their fingers for the hologram to go away.
"So I guess you're all set." Said the waiter.
"I would like the Traditional Eggs Benedict." Claudia said. She thought the lobster ones sounded great, but it was an important day for her, and she preferred to make sure that she would love her food.
"And I'm gonna have the Captain Crunch Pancakes." Aunt Sally said, since she totally craved something sweet.
"So! I can't believe this is happening! Today! In a few hours! What I'm gonna do? And say? And how I'm I supposed to act?" Claudia was too excited and nervous to think. She continued to speak after taking a big breath. "You know what, Aunt Sally, I'm not gonna think about it. It always works best when I improvise. People love the natural me. This already happened with my AP interview last year. I just need you to distract me! I need my day to be so fun that I will not have time to think about it."
"As you wish, you bright young lady! You're totally right."
The food was excellent, and each one shared a bit of her dish with the other. They talked about the new trends in the fashion world and laughed at the scandals they had read about in the Vogue website. Talking so much about the passion they shared made time fly! Suddenly, they realized it was 2 o' clock.
"Oh my goodness! We have to get going. Your meeting is in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and it is a two-hour ride from here! To be there on time is the first good impression."
"Let's go, let's go!" Claudia said as she stood up and grabbed her stuff immediately. A thousand thoughts started eating her mind again, but she tried to control herself a little more now. 'Claudia calm down. One sheep, two sheep, three sheep. Oh who am I kidding?'
On the road, Claudia tried to watch a movie through her watch, but she still lost herself in her thoughts.
"My mind is all Cornell. Cornell. Cornell. Admission. Interview. Cornell. And Go Big Red! I'm gonna go crazy. I think I'll distract myself with my watch till we get there." She snapped her fingers above her iWatch's screen and started playing her favorite game, "Salty Ninjas." She needed to do something that would take away her full attention.
It was 5 p.m. on the dot when Sally and Claudia arrived to the hotel. They had never been there before. Immediately, Sally asked the receptionist for the floor where the fine restaurant where the interview would be was located.
"Third floor ma'am." Politely said the receptionist.
Claudia was so nervous, she could not stop looking and analyzing everything.
"Her name was Linda." Claudia said, awkwardly.
"Don't be silly. Let's go see if the Cornell dude is already there." Sally tried to answer the most relaxed way possible. 'Dude? A woman my age shouldn't even say that.'
They took the elevator to the third floor. Sally grabbed her niece's hand for support.
"I'll go in with you just in case."
"You have a very weird smile on your face, Sally."
As the two of them entered the restaurant, Claudia found herself with a sweet surprise. No applicants' interviewer from Cornell was waiting for her. Instead, a scientist was.
"Hello, Claudia. I am Hector, one of the scientists who have been studying your parents' case ever since it happened. Recently, my group was assigned to study another plane crash. It happened to be in the same island as your parents' accident. However, this time, we did receive signs of human life, so we sent troops to look for them. When the troops got there, the first thing they saw was your parents swimming on the shore. We rescued them, but they are now at the hospital because we need to make sure they are okay before you and your aunt see them. You don't have to worry, they have no injuries, but they have spent too much time on survival mode, and doctors have to make sure that they are stable. I went to visit them myself before I came to talk to you. They are eager to see you, and they told me to tell you how much they love you. I know this seems like a lot, but it's such good news!"
Great emotional and impacting news, such as this, were given to people in open spaces these days. Scientists had proven it to be better for the individual mentally and emotionally to receive news in a public place, since it helped the individual feel more supported than receiving the news in an isolated place. Claudia didn't know how to react. She was so happy that she did not know how to express herself. She did not even know if happy was enough to describe how she was feeling. She looked at her aunt as tears of joy ran down her face. She hugged Sally, trembling of happiness. Sally started to cry too.
"I can't believe this. I don't even know what to say. How are they? When can I see them? Oh my god, I can't believe it. Oh my god. Oh my god. Are we all going to live together now? Sally how could you hold this surprise for so long? I don't even know what to say. Since when do you know this? Thank you soooo much, Hector!" Claudia could not stop shaking as she spoke.
"I received Hector's call two days ago. Don't worry, the Cornell interview is still happening. I explained the situation to the applicants' interviewer, and we rescheduled. He completely understood; your interview will take place next month. You will see your parents in a few days, but first they need to run some exams. We also have to prepare ourselves, mentally and emotionally. This is a lot to take." Aunt Sally still continued to grab Claudia's hand. She was dying on her inside, but she had to hold her emotions and handle the situation like the adult she was. At least the scientist had answered all her questions in the phone call the other day, and she was calmer now.
On their way back, Claudia barely spoke. She spent the whole ride looking out the window lost in her thoughts. How could this happen to her? She was such an ordinary girl, and surprises like this just happened in movies. What Claudia did not know, is that she would never get to see her parents due to a doctor's crucial mistake. A hot nurse was distracting him, and the doctor accidentally injected Claudia's parents with the vaccine Aeternum, instead of the stabilizing vaccine. Aeternum was a vaccine that changed the human genome, and made humans become humanoids, a species that could not breathe oxygen, since their bodies only accepted Aeternum. Since the Earth's atmosphere did not have Aeternum, Claudia's parents were transferred to Eden, the other existing planet, to survive. Seems like Claudia was not destined to have a fairy tale ending after all.