Eden Gardens

The three of them crossed the lobby and stopped to look at the four-story-high atrium, filled with trees and caged songbirds, a waterfall cascading down the far wall.
“Oh Mom. It’s so beautiful. You really picked a perfect place.”
The bellhop was used to people stopping to take in the view, and she paused discretely behind them.
“Thanks, Sweetheart,” Innette said, one arm around her daughter Selda, the other resting lightly on her granddaughter Rebecca’s shoulder.
“It’s prettier than the pictures, Gran.”
“I think we’re going to have a wonderful week, girls.” Having said that, Innette turned to the bellhop, who slipped in front of them and led them around the atrium toward a bank of elevators. They zipped up to the top floor, and she led them to their suite, a large sitting room that looked out on a terrace, with three bedrooms down a marble hallway.
Rebecca was excited. Except for visiting her other grandmother twice a year, this was her first big vacation. She spent every other weekend with her father and his wife in the next town, but they had a new baby and never went anywhere. She and her mother sometimes went away during her school vacations, somewhere that was always a day’s drive from home, and they would share motel room, so Rebecca was especially excited about having her own room for the first time, in a big fancy resort. Selda had been nervous about that, about the extra expense, and had tried to talk her mother out of it. But Innette reminded her that her insurance policy paid for eighty percent of it and that she’d
been saving up for years to do this trip perfectly – and that not only did she want Rebecca to have her own room, but she wanted her to be able to pick it out. So they’d gone to the resort’s e-site and explored all the available suites until Rebecca found one she liked, with a terrace and all the bedrooms looking out on the waterfall, and a wonderful view out of the rolling desert hills beyond it.
Innette tipped the bellhop and she left them, after showing them where the waterbar was and pointing out the info-cube that would tell them everything they might want to know about Eden Gardens. She reminded them that their personal activities coordinator would come to see them the next morning, that dinner was served from five to eight and that they had the rest of the day to settle in and explore.
Selda and Innette stood at the end of the hall watching Rebecca as she raced from bedroom to bedroom, calling out as she darted in and out of each, “This is yours Mommy. This is yours Gran.” And this one is mine.” Mine was the room at the far end of the hall, the smallest, but the only one with corner windows, looking out on the waterfall from one side and through the atrium to the dusty hills outside the dome on the other.
Innette and Selda followed Rebecca, carrying all of their bags, putting them in their own rooms and then delivering Rebecca’s to hers. Rebecca kept calling for them. “Mommy. Gran, come quickly. You have to see this.” The two adults arrived, smiling, and joined Rebecca, who was standing in front of the floor-to-ceiling window. Below them, in the atrium, a peacock was strutting about, under the trees. They came up behind Rebecca and put their hands on her shoulders, and all three gasped when a moment later the bird turned and snapped open its fan in a flash of turquoise, shimmering, golden and fluttering, huge.
“Oh my!” Innette said, startled.
“Wow!” said Selda.
“Diggers,” Rebecca added, laughing. “Do you think he did it for us?” Innette leaned over and kissed her only grandchild on the top of her head.
“Of course he did, Seldy,” who ran to her suitcase, flipped open the locks, pulled out her clothing and neatly placed it in piles on the bed. As her mother and grandmother watched she systematically put her underwear, socks, shirts, and pants away in the dresser across from her bed.
“I didn’t teach her to do that,” Selda said to her mother, as they watched her. Innette, remembering what a slob Selda had been as a child, laughed.
“And when I’m done we can all go swimming,” Rebecca said, looking up at them. “There are four pools. We can try them all.”
“Let’s all unpack first, Honey. And maybe Grandma wants to rest for a while. We had a long trip and maybe she’s tired.”
“Not a chance,” Innette said. “Besides, I don’t want to miss a single minute of fun. But how about some lunch first?”
“We can eat at the Tel Aviv Café, the Jerusalem Veranda, the Jericho Grill, or at the Haifa Terrace,” Rebecca rattled off.
“I see we won’t have to use the info-cube.”
“I know everything,” Rebecca announced, as she hung up her two fancy dresses in the closet.
“I told her not to bring them both,” Selda said to her mother, “but she insisted.”
“Well, you never can tell when you might want to look nice.” Innette was an adoring grandmother, and anything Rebecca did was all right with her.
“Well hurry up, you two. Get unpacked and let’s go eat. Then, we can go swimming. I want to try the heart-shaped pool up on the roof first.”
Half an hour later, after Selda had changed and unpacked, after Innette had taken the little nap she said she didn’t need, the three of them were sitting at a small round table at the Tel Aviv Café, at the far end of the atrium, just beside the waterfall. The café was crowded, and Selda couldn’t help but notice the other families gathered there, and a few single people. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, taking endless pictures from their visettes, and she wondered if she were the only one who felt a little bit nervous, anxious, in fact fearful about being there, fearful and angry in a place she kept trying to smash down. Her mother was her usual blustery self, and Rebecca seemed to be having the time of her life. There was a light breeze, and every few minutes a soft spray would waft over their table from the waterfall, catching on skin, sparkling on eyelashes. Each time it blew over them Rebecca would lick the spray off her face, laughing.
As soon as they’d ordered, Rebecca tapped the compu-screen that was their tabletop from menu-function to activities-function, and between bites of her lunch she showed her mother and grandmother the different trails she thought they ought to explore. “This one goes up to some old Indian ruins, and this one goes to an old cowboy ghost town,” she said, pointing to the colored trails. “But Mommy, you promised I could get a new hiking cap, and I saw some zadd ones in the gift shop.”
“Rebecca, when did you manage to do that?” her grandmother asked, a half a smile on her face.
“When you and Mommy were checking in. They had two that I really really like. A blue one with yellow spots all over it. And another one that looks like a bird. It’s all shiny and would look rasty with my hiking outfit.”
“We can check them out after lunch.”
Selda reached a hand across the table and put it on her mother’s forearm. “Mom, don’t spoil her.”
“Spoil her? I just want to make her happy. Besides…”
Selda interrupted her. “If you insist.”
So they finished their lunches and while Selda sat by one of the pools, Innette and Rebecca went off to the gift shop, and came back ten minutes later with Rebecca wearing a shiny cap that looked like a bird, its bright red beak extending out over her nose.
“It’s beautiful, Honey. But you really shouldn’t have, Mom.”
“Come on. That’s what this time is for. To have fun and enjoy ourselves. Besides, we want our big girl to be the best dressed hiker when we go out tomorrow.”
“To the ruins. I’ve never seen real ruins before. Just those hologram ones they have at the Museum of Natural History.”
“It’s a deal! We can go right after breakfast.”
“Don’t forget that the coordinator will be coming in the morning, Mom. And then the doctor.”
“I haven’t forgotten. We can go right after that.” So they spent the rest of the day exploring every corner of the Eden Gardens complex that Rebecca led them to. Through the health spa and the bowling alley, the holovision center, the music-listening rooms, and all four pools. They ate dinner in their suite. Rebecca had never had room service
before and decided that when she grew up she wanted to be a hospitality worker in a resort and order room service for every single meal. And she loved being tucked in by her mother and her grandmother, who read to her till she fell asleep, from her favorite bedtime reading, a book about the planets in our solar system.
Rebecca was up first, checking out the breakfast menu in the sitting room when the door flashed yellow and announced that their activities coordinator had arrived. Rebecca beeped her in and was delighted when Ronit said, “You must be Rebecca.” She let Ronit know that her mother and grandmother were still asleep and offered to wake them. But Ronit said it was fine to let them sleep awhile, that it would give the two of them a chance to talk.
“How do you like it here so far, Rebecca?”
“It’s great. After room service breakfast and after you go, Gran and me are going for a hike. Out to the ruins.”
“How do you feel about being here?”
“I’m really happy for us and happy for Gran. She’s been planning this vacation for almost her whole entire life.”
“Then you know what’s going to happen?”
“On a planet of over 12 billion people, taking responsibility for your life is an essential requirement for all world citizens.”
Ronit laughed. “That’s from one of your grandmother’s talks, isn’t it?”
Rebecca nodded. “I’ve heard them all. Sometimes she practices on me, on the View-screen, before she goes to give another talk.”
Just then, awakened by the sound of them talking, Innette came out of her room, in a long blue bathrobe. Ronit introduced herself and Innette joined them on the couch.
“Good morning Senator Goldberg-Nakamura.”
“Just call me Innette. Everyone does.”
“I’ve read through your charts, Innette, and of course I know all about your career. We’re all so very honored and pleased and proud to have you here with us at Eden. Your work has made such a difference in the world.”
Rebecca popped in with, “Gran’s work is all about kikkun olam! Which is why she picked it here and not anywhere else,” just as her mother staggered in, rubbing her eyes, half awake, and sat in a chair off to the side, longing for a cup of coffee.
“You’re so right, Rebecca. Tikkun olam, repair of the world. And now that you’re all here it’s time to talk about this wonderful week that Innette has chosen for all of you to share. We’ve arranged for every meal that you’ve asked for, Senator. Innette. We’ve also arranged for a chamber group to be flown in, to play the Bach concert you z-mailed me about. And lastly, our on-staff videographers will be filming every moment of this special week for the two of you to treasure, Rebecca and Selda.”
Selda looked away and said nothing. Rebecca had a few questions about the video, and about the clothes she’d brought with her. Ronit told her that there were several boutiques in Eden if she wanted or needed anything special, was delighted that Rebecca had already found them, and told her that she’d be happy to go shopping with her once the doctor and his staff arrived to talk with her grandmother. Then Ronit turned back to Innette. “Frankly, we’re all a little bit embarrassed, because you’ve written so much on this subject, and we’ve all heard so many of your lectures, so we don’t have to ask you
the battery of questions that we ask all of our other new guests. We know exactly what you want, and we want to let you know that everything will proceed exactly as you requested, down to potted the lily-of-the-valley plants at your departure ceremony. We found a man in New Zeeland with an extensive greenhouse. His specialty is breeding heirloom plants from North America, they’re about to blossom, and he’s be flying them over in three days.”
Innette thanked her, and added, “You’ve all been so wonderful. This is exactly how I want to spend my last week. Here in Eden, with my family and with all of you.”
The End