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[ 6:57am - September, 2001 | Midtown Manhattan, NYC ]

"But I don't want to go to school today! Why should I be forced to do things that I just don't want to do? It's absurd! It's... counterintuitive!" she would declare, throwing the crisp woolen blanket over her head in protest. "They hate me. They all hate me, and I hate them all back!" she pouted, feeling her eyes begin to burn and swell. Her arms defiantly crossing her chest now, shielding her soul. Thoughts of Emily Dickinson fueling unseen crimson pools of vengeful imagination.

Stanza’s of dramatic Shakespearean discord run throughout her young thoughts; Advanced Placement classes, and explanations to Macbeth since early grade-school. The lonely princess locked away in a dingy tower of enchanted beings, with blood-red eyes, and thick New York accents.

Oh, how she loved the drama so, it would swaddle and envelop her. Trapped in a tower, on the 47th floor of a Mid-Town Manhattan high-rise.

Muted, dappled sunlight framed and bounced from shiny trinkets along the shelves; Gold-plated Faberge egg replica’s (worth hundred’s still) catch baubles of antique-precious light. Ghostly purple, pink and yellow pastel is captured by the dawn, and hovers above the angular crystalline perfume bottles. Like lovely disheveled and colorful unicorn teeth, she thought.

"Oh, come now', surely you're exaggerating a tiny-bit? 'un poquito?' - It’s only the second day of school, you can’t possibly hate everyone already. And besides," the woman continued, thrusting open the last of the bright yellow and pink curtains, and turning to face the bed, now awash in pale September dawn.

“Your Father spends a lot of money, ‘mucho-dinero’, to send you to that school (she was pinching her fingers together and waving her hands up and down, like a scolding Italian grandmother). It’s one of the best in the entire city yet you still complain. Where would you like to go, huh? A public school in the Bronx! You wanna’ go to school in my neighborhood?! Oye! You wouldn’t last 10 minutes…” the woman continued, non-stop.

Standing there, trying to wait the girl out and catch her breath at the same time, both hands on her hips , she began tapping her foot impatiently. With the huge bay-window and lower Manhattan skyline at her back, her caramel-tanned and freckled bosom heaved as she attempted to catch-up with her escaping breath.

"Okay, Miss-Lady. Let’s go!” she continued, deliberately using her thick Portuguese accent to instill resolve, boldly forcing heavy waxen locks away from her sticky forehead, and squinting alpine-green eyes at the intruding light.

“I said,” reaching for the slender silhouette of the girl through the blanket now, while straddling the small bed, “Let’s go!” and with this she begins to tickle the girl frantically.

“Ah! Hahahahahaha!” she squealed in delight, kicking her feet up and bringing her knees to her chest, she would flail back and forth like a wet carp on a moistened wood peer.

“I don’t wanna, hahaha, I don’t wanna! Hahaha, they’re all, haha the same kids from, hahaha, last year…”

“Ok, suit yourself. I guess you’ll just miss out on your favorite dinner tonight,” the woman continued teasingly, as she stood to straighten-out her apron, and peak at the girl who had stopped flopping-around now, and returned to just being a stubborn wooden plank.

“I mean, if I gotta stay home and watch you all day, I can’t very well catch the train across town and to the market to get any of the ingredients, like no fresh seafood, or tomatoes, y arroz...

“What?!” she exclaimed, immediately bolting upright and lowering the blanket in one deft motion, to face the woman’s smirking gaze. “You weren’t gonna’ make Paella, were you?!” as the woman stands to defiantly march toward the door. “María? Are you?! With shrimp and clams? Or mussels? Please say it’s shrimp and mussels?!”

“Doesn’t matter now, since I’m no longer…”

“Okay – I’ll go to school! Look, I’m getting-up. María! MARIA!”

NYC Skyline BW

|  a short story by Mark Wilson  |

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