It was another class field trip. I was so sick of these educational excursions! Couldn't we go somewhere fun?! In all my years teaching I had seen it all, been to each location a dozen times, and resigned myself to following the kids around.
We were going to the Museum of Natural History, again. The students were just as bored with it. Wax mannequins of ancient peoples with their different skin colors and hair colors, standing near an artist's rendition of their homes, painted on the wall and slightly constructed out from it in metals we no longer have in abundance on Earth.
The students didn't understand that. They were only interested in gawking at the mannequin's extra toe and belly buttons. Many of them didn't have one, since test tube pregnancies and synthetic wombs are safer and more convenient ways to have children.
The hover bus docked seamlessly at the group entrance door and the class and I filed out. Our tour guide was named Netta, short for Netabulian, she informed us, proudly, since the Netabulian line was the one of the first to come from the synthetic womb four generations ago.
She took us to the usual rooms, the library where ancient things called books held the written communications of our ancestors, the garden, where the last living tropical plants are meticulously maintained, and the cinema room where the children would enjoy a film depicting the silly ways our ancestors dressed and how they traveled with the technology that polluted the whole planet.
Lastly we went to the pollution room, where examples of trash and dangerous chemicals were explained and displayed harmlessly so the future generations will not make the same mistakes.
The children were then allowed to play in the hands-on mannequin room, climb on the scaled down buildings, and walk in the reconstructed kitchens and across the porches of the ancient houses.
There was one display. I was always drawn to it. I was convinced it was wrong. Something always seemed off about it, every time I saw it. I'm not a historian, nor an archeologist, nor a scientist of any kind, but I just knew the display was not correct. Something inside me rejected the display.
It was an old office. There were cabinets with doors that pulled out, a desk, some writing utensils and paper. There was an item on the desk like a long black tube with holes and a tapered end, beside a tiny round object with tubing and wires on it. There was a flat calculator and some spectacles on the desk. On the wall was a picture of some sort of old transportation near some water that was very blue. The water on Earth now wasn't blue. I doubted it ever was.
I stared at those items on the desk. The small flat circle was too advanced, too tiny to be from the same period as the calculator or the long black tube with holes. The wires and tubing on the thing looked too much like our transit tunnels and lights and other things. That tiny piece of technology did not belong in an office.
But it was time to go. I collected the children, counted them, and cast one last wistful glace at the display.