Commonwealth, II.XVIII: In the House of Tomorrow

Commonwealth, II.XVIII: In the House of Tomorrow December 4, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 2, chapter 3

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

The next day brought a pummeling rainstorm. The wind beat against the windows, and long streaks of water crawled down the glass. But the place Jane had brought Rae to see was safe and warm. Jane called it a creche, and she’d said it was the Pacific Republic’s most important co-op.

It was a large gymnasium whose floor and walls were padded with foam mats. Above the padding, artwork flowed across the walls: a shining skyline, a wild jungle where rivers twined through the trees, a tropical ocean dotted with islands and atolls, a solar system where multicolored planets swung in orbits around a fiery sun. It looked as if the outlines had been drawn by professional artists and the colors filled in by children’s hands.

Above the artwork, just below the ceiling, there were snippets of poetry in many alphabets and languages. One, written in graceful calligraphy, read: “—their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow—

The gymnasium was an elaborate play space for children. In one corner of the room, infants crawled around in a corral of low mesh barriers, scattered with brightly colored toys for them to play with. Toddlers clambered on a massive jungle gym with rope nets and ladders to climb on, raised platforms linked by a maze of swaying bridges and tunnels, and twisting slides to bring them back down. Their shouts and laughter filled the air in a babble of noise.

For slightly older children, there were racks full of books and low couches and beanbag chairs where they could sit and read. For the very youngest, a hallway led into a cozy nursery where newborns slept peacefully beneath the soft throb of white noise generators. Next to the nursery were private rooms with translucent windows, furnished with recliners and rocking chairs for nursing mothers.

There were adults everywhere in the main space, both men and women, watching the children at play. The caregivers ranged from teenagers only a few years older than the children they were overseeing to gray-haired grandparents. One of them was a person Rae recognized.

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