Chapter 7 - Scared New World

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[15 Years Later, Wednesday, June 12th, 2030, 8:40 a.m., York, Pennsylvania]

The aroma of smoked bacon and grits wafted up the wooden stairs, down the hall, and under the door of the modest town home bathroom. Faith brushed her honey-brown hair with long strokes, counting under her breath.

"Eighty-eight, eighty-nine ..."

The smell entered her nostrils and she smiled at her reflection in the mirror. Bacon and grits on a school day meant only one thing.

She and her father had engaged in a heated exchange prior to bed, during which he demanded she account for the ten minutes she arrived after curfew. She had come to accept his intrusion into her daily affairs, especially with events in the world as they were. But the handcuffs always seems to tighten a little around this time of year, and the frequency and severity of the arguments between them increased. But she understood her dad was still under there, under all of the anxiety and guilt, waiting for it to pass so he could resurface.

She knew what bacon and grits on a school day meant. It meant 'I'm sorry.'

She took a step back from the mirror and judged herself, her hazel eyes searching her body for the tiniest imperfection. When she was satisfied, she left and shut the door behind her. As she made her way down the staircase, she heard a younger version of her father's voice emanating from the TV.

"Faith Anderson, I find you guilty of the crime of having the messiest face in York County. I hereby sentence you to have your face and hands wiped by a washcloth until you are clean. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

An infant Faith blinked twice then drooled. "Mo cake!"

"Hmm, an interesting counter offer, but I'm afraid the judge's word is final."

The baby on screen splashed and squealed with delight as Derick attempted to wipe her gyrating hands. Her father didn't know it, but it was Faith's favorite video of them. "God, look at those fat rolls!" she said, walking down the steps.

Derick spun around in his seat. He watched as she gracefully descended, her eyes glued to the scene on the television. "Damn you look like your mother," he said. "Happy birthday baby."

She gave him a kiss on the cheek and smiled. "So you've said, and thank you." Faith realized that this was a bittersweet time of the year for him. There was a part of her that always wished she had known her mother, even if only briefly. That way, not only would she have her own memories, but more importantly, she would be able to share that pain with him. She paused and stared at her father, comparing him to the image on TV. "You're get'n old Daddy." She rubbed the hair around his grey goatee with her thumb. "You should totally get some color for this, and what are you wearing?" She pulled at the sleeve of his camouflage print short-sleeve button-up.

"What?" Derick asked, looking down at his shirt. "Is this not kuku?"

Faith rolled her eyes. "No one says 'kuku' any more Dad. That's so 2025 which, coincidentally, is probably right around the time that shirt ceased to be fashionable." She turned and headed toward the kitchen. "Is that bacon I smell?"

Derick turned off the living room television and followed her into the kitchen. He pulled out his phone and hit an app titled 'News.' Almost instantly, a monitor hanging on the kitchen wall powered on and tuned itself to CNN with the volume muted. His phone then displayed a list of news stories from around the world with multimedia menus attached to them. Faith walked over to the stove and began spooning grits into a small red bowl as she watched the monitor. President Callow was addressing a large crowd of restless protesters, while news snippets flashed across the bottom of the screen.

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