Emma rushed through the door of her 45-story apartment building. This was her favorite time of day. Her hated job was over and now this was her time. She liked to watch the sun set and forget about the worries of life in the early 22nd century. It didn't matter how late she stayed at work or how horrible the traffic was; she knew the sun would wait for her.
She walked into the kitchen and poured a glass of her precious, rationed water. Sunset was the only time of day she let herself drink the rare, natural liquid. She savored the taste, hardly believing that just a century ago people had used water for everything without any thought of its value. Emma relished these evenings alone. The state had not found a need for another apartment yet, but soon her luck would run out and she would be called to meet a man the state had picked for her to marry. This was the regulated system which ensured there was an apartment for every person new to the real world.
The phone rang. Emma frowned and made her way to the little computer screen. It showed her boss, waiting impatiently. Emma decided that it wouldn't be wise to leave him hanging and picked up the phone.
"Hi, Mr. Gregory. What do you need?" she said, sounding and looking as pleasant as she could. She didn't want to lose her job.
"Emma, could you send the Cooperson files through the teletransporter to me? The case starts in five minutes and I don't have my set." Emma sighed inside but didn't let her annoyance show.
"They'll be there in a minute, Mr. Gregory." His image flickered on the computer screen, then disappeared. Emma grumbled and rifled through her briefcase until she found the thick packet of legal papers. She dropped them in the beige box next to her computer, closed the lid and pressed the button. The whirring noise assured her that her papers were being transported, but she checked when the noise stopped, just to make sure. She really was thankful for the teletransporter. She couldn't imagine using the primitive email system of so long ago. But sometimes she wished that things were the way they had been long before she was born, when people thought that the Internet was something new and spectacular.
Emma sighed and threw her briefcase back to the floor. She looked at her watch and saw that it was time to watch the sunset. Strolling into the kitchen, she grabbed her precious glass of water and took it into the living room. She flopped down on the couch, sat back and relaxed.
Emma felt a bond with the sun. It seemed sad as it looked upon the world, seeing so much and yet understanding none of it. Why horrible things had to happen, why pain and exploitation of the earth had to occur - neither she nor the sun understood, but both knew that it had happened and that it would continue to happen. And yet the sun seemed to like the earth anyway, despite all of its mistakes. The sun was forgiving, and Emma knew that no matter what, it would always be there to comfort her. At last, in a blaze of brilliant fire that would not let itself be forgotten, the sun gave up and let the night overwhelm it. Emma sighed and looked out her picture window, hardly believing that the smog-filled sky surrounding her apartment was the same sky that she watched every evening. So much had changed since the video of the sunset that she religiously watched every night had been taken. Emma would have loved to have been able to see a real sunset, not just a videotaped one, but no one could see the sun rise or set through the polluted air anymore.
Reluctantly, Emma stood up and prepared to go to bed. As she did every night, she rewound the tape of the sunset and made sure it would be ready for her tomorrow evening.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.