By Jessica Bovee
2078: You are frail, and your pain washes away as does your breath. Your daughter kisses your worn forehead. A great grandchild grabs your hand and tells you a story about how she won her track meet, and how she beat every girl and boy there. You tell her that’s because she’s strong, just like her grandma.
Water levels rise after the poles melt.
2044: You find your granddaughter in a hospital after being violently beaten in a human rights protest. You never understand her reason to fight. She wants to change the world and you never think it is as bad as she paints it. She looks proud of her scars, but you hold her close screaming for her to stop. Your daughter is in the corner fighting her tears.
Communism grows in Europe and stretches to America.
2024: Your daughter is home with the child, her publishing dreams gone, and her husband remains distant. Giggles and diaper rash consume her life, and she kisses the baby’s delicate skin. She loses her job after being on leave. You help care for her child.
China becomes a global super power over U.S.
2023: Your daughter’s body ripens readying another life for the world. One more fragile soul you can’t protect. Her feet swell and she tries to not ask for assistance. She works her job tirelessly and questions herself.
A satellite is released into orbit in order to find life on Venus.
2020: You weep when they say “I do,” and you pray for love after having given up on it yourself. She laughs after being twirled in circles that push her dress out. Children fumble through the crowds of drunken uncles and you kiss her soft head.
There is another health care reform.
The Earth’s orbit begins to slow down.
2015: Your daughter is convinced to attend a formal event in her black dress. She usually studies at home, but finds the courage to be seen. Her friends dance and sip on their date’s cigars with champagne in their hands. Someone violently gropes her body on the dance floor, and she leaves in distress. Another man walks out and finds her outside the door. He tells her she’s beautiful and they talk until morning.
Hillary Clinton announces that she will be running for the Democratic Nominee for president.
2012: Twinkling lights and store-bought finger foods furnish the living room. The music grows in the background as the night comes to an end, and an upperclassmen bumps into her. Girls points to her breasts and laugh. They realize they are padded with tissues. Others gawk at her chest and snicker amongst each other. The cake is set in front of her as she finds the right wish. “I want to be beautiful.”
Malala Yousafzai wins Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
2008: The wind is quickly tucked behind her as she runs faster. A boy trails behind as she rounds the finish line. He becomes angry and pushes her to the ground as many joke about him losing to a girl. She’s confused, and tears start when she brings up the story. You brush them away and tell her she’s strong because she is a woman.
A tornado leaves 58 dead in the Southern United States.
1998: Her feet find solid ground as she leans on a coffee table for support. You know soon she will find herself in places without you. You try not to think about ever being without her, so you elevate your voice with kind words that evoke a puppet’s. She begins to lose her balance as she reaches for you.
Michelle Kwan wins U.S. female Figure Skating Championship.
Titanic wins academy award for best picture.
1996: New to this world and brought in with tender hands. Her eyes not yet open, and her mind not formed. She doesn’t know what’s to come, she doesn’t even know to be excited or scared. You assure her that she’s perfect, even in an imperfect world. You kiss her delicate skin and look over her without angst. Nothing could be so pure. She grips your finger tightly.
South Africa gets a new constitution.
Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” makes top 5.
This story is inspired by Lorrie Moore’s short story, “How to Talk to Your Mother (Notes).”