Perfect World

It was difficult for Lola to decide whether she wanted to be a dancer or a painter when she graduated from college.

“Why choose at all?” her guidance counselor said with a smile. “Take both the Dance and Art placement tests. You can double major at university and then apply for a split career. Young people do it all the time. Then when your superior talent emerges, you can go full time in your strength.”

Lola loved ballet. Most of her high school classes were either studying its history or experiencing the dance itself. Even her science classes involved kinesthetics and the physics involved in dance. But when sixth period came, she took off her ballet shoes and emersed herself in the joy of oil painting. She loved drawing and painting the human body. Her high school hired models (dressed in swimwear of course) so that students could draw from life. They studied anatomy along side color theory.

Their president was an artist too. Dr. Hansen was responsible for the laws making jobs for musicians, artists, writers, and dancers. When children were seven, they were tested for creativity. If they showed some talent, they were encouraged to take special classes. When they were seniors in high school, they took a test in their ability which would determine which university they would attend.

After completing their university degree, creatives could apply for important government positions. Since the government paid the performers, citizens could attend concerts and performances for free. Anyone could apply for a mural to be painted on the wall of their home or a portrait done of their family.

Lola’s mother was a children’s book writer, and her father was a saxophone player. But ever since she could walk, Lola danced her way through life. She should choose dance for college.

After hanging up her toe shoes on the rack, she looked down at her computer. Maybe she should video call Becky, her cousin, who still lived on Earth. Becky and her mom, Lola’s dad’s sister, came out to visit every year. She’d known Becky her whole life and chatted with her frequently.

Lola checked the clocks over her desk. The one on the left was Pacific Standard Earth time. It was only 9:00 pm there. Becky would still be awake.

“Hey, Lola! What’s up?” On Lola’s screen, Becky’s hair was rolled up in a cap to keep her waves, and she was in her pink unicorn pajamas.

“I hope I didn’t wake you up,” Lola said. It wasn’t even dinner time yet on Mars.

“No, I was still working on my algebra homework,” Becky squinched up her nose to show what she thought about advanced mathematics. “What are you up to?”

“I have to fill out my test application,” Lola said with a groan. “I can’t decide whether to choose dance or art. What do you think I should do?”

Becky chewed her lip. “Wow! I only wish I had that problem. You are so lucky to live on a planet that lets you pursue creativity. As you know, I love dance as much as you do, but Mom can’t afford dance lessons for me. As soon as I graduate, I’m off to work at her dad’s office. No more dancing for me!”

Lola sighed. Not for the first time, she wished Becky and her mom had signed up for the Mars colony. Creatives on Earth had to work boring service jobs to support themselves. What little time they had left after work and family was all they had for their creative pursuits.

“I’m so sorry, Becky. But which one should I choose?”

Her cousin tipped her head, narrowed her eyes, and then opened them wide. “Dance, silly! Dance is your first love!”

“Thanks, Becky. I’ll let you go. I hear Mom calling me.”

After dinner, Lola went to the testing website and filled out the application for the Dance Aptitude Test. Then she took her shower and went to bed. She put on some Mozart to help her relax and nestled under her blankets. She fell asleep dreaming about her future.

#

Lola’s alarm went off and she rolled over to hit the snooze button. Was it the weekend yet? She still hadn’t finished her Advanced Writing assignment, and it was due first period. She groaned and rolled out of bed. She’d have to write it before she left for school.

As she grabbed her sweater and backpack, she glanced over at her toe shoes hanging on a hook by her desk and frowned. She missed ballet. It had been her life for five wonderful years.

When her dad left them, her mom put her foot down and insisted Lola stop dancing. She needed to start focusing on her grades so she could get a college scholarship. A business degree was the only acceptable path since most corporations that offered benefits and pensions required their managers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business.

What would it be like to live in a world where dancers could work as dancers instead of receptionists?

She made herself a smoothie and sat down with her laptop. The prompt was to write about what she thought would make a perfect world. In the back of her mind, she felt the tickle of an idea. Something she had been dreaming about last night. Her fingers flew over the keyboard.

“It was difficult for Lola to decide whether she wanted to be a dancer or a painter when she graduated from college.”

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