I nodded and smiled at Janice.
I passed this place on the way to a conference once, she said, and then this morning it just popped back into my head. I got up and I said, Jared, were going to see that fascinating bubble on the hill today. And were going to learn something from it.
I looked at Jared again. His magnified green eyes were like beacons.
Heres admission for both of us, she said, and handed me a twenty. Are you the tour guide, Sebastian?
Oh, no, I said, my Nana will be happy to . . .
I stopped at that point and realized that she wasnt there. Usually, Nana was outside in her special tour pantsuit at the slightest sound of a muffl er. I gave Janice her change. Shell be out in sixty seconds, I said. Give or take.
She looked toward the dome then, studying it anew. I wanted to ask her more about Jared. But I sensed that he had turned down the volume on his music and was listening and observing now. His eyes were locked on the photograph of the dome, sitting in the display window. He seemed to consider it deeply. I watched his eyes scan every room, moving up from the living room.
Janice took a deep breath and shivered a little. Probably the last of the real fall days, she said.
Is that a fucking sock in there? asked Jared.
His voice was grating, high-pitched. Janice and I both turned to look at him.
What did you just say? she asked.
I see a sock in that picture, Jared said. Thats all Im saying. Jared! said his mother. Whats the matter with you? Dont you have any sense of . . .
But Janice was not given time to finish her question. Because, at that moment, Nana burst out of the house dressed completely in her pantsuit, waving her arms over her head, as if signaling for a rescue. Welcome, visitors! she said. Greetings. Greetings.
Nanas hair was a bit out of place. But she carried two stickers on her fingertips. They were black-and-white, with a cartoon of Buckminster Fullers bespectacled head in the center, a wry grin on his face. Nana fastened one on Janices wool lapel. She pressed the other one on Jareds T-shirt, directly on his left nipple.
Well start inside right away, said Nana, immediately shepherding us over the lawn. Welcome to the future.
I already told them, I said.
Oh, she said, and laughed a little too long.
Nana, I said when she was finished, maybe you should slow down a little, I . . .
She interrupted me with a pinch on the side. Then she gave me a confident grin and tromped ahead of me. We proceeded right into the dome, past the NordicTrack, into the very center of the living room. There was something wrong with Nanas appearance that I couldnt put my finger on. As she cleared her throat to begin her speech, I looked down at her arch-supported dress shoes and discovered what it was.
They were on the wrong feet.
In his famous book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,
said Nana, looking up, R. Buckminster Fuller, the greatest mind of our age, states that in order for mankind to progress, We must first discover where we are now; that is, what our present navigational position in the universal scheme of evolution is.
She paused a moment and caught me looking down. She glanced at her feet, and then her eyes met mine. It only took a second, but her face changed entirely. Her eyes unfocused. Her teeth found her bottom lip. The Whitcombs were still gazing skyward.
Excerpted from House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni. Copyright © 2010 by Peter Bognanni. Excerpted by permission of Amy Einhorn Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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