The following flash fiction was inspired by the people of New York, and the street photography that captures the diversity and excitement of the city. The story, names, and situations are all 100% fictional. Â Â Photo and story by Neil Kramer.
Don received an email this morning from his old friend, Gregory, who still worked the coat room at the Hilton. It read, “She’s checking out at noon and taking a car service to JFK.”
Emily was flying back to Northern California. Emily. Beautiful Emily. Don debated whether to rush over and make things right, but he was terrified of her reaction. Could he tell this glamorous young woman, with no cares in the world, that a man as unimportant as himself was her father?
Mahmood never turned his back towards Love. Â His intention was to send for Husna when he felt settled in his adopted city. Â It was Husna who betrayed him, marrying the next available suitor, a young teacher in Rawalpindi. Â Allah saw the truth, if no one else did. Â It was Love that turned her back towards Mahmood. Â As he sat with the apples, pears, and pineapples, refreshments for the tourists, he knew that he would never again taste a fruit as delicious as Husna’s kiss.
“Do you want to get married today?” he texted her.
“But we only know each other for two weeks!” she answered.
“Yes or no?” he typed.
She responded with a smile face.
It was her 37th birthday.
“He had money. He had a classic car and an apartment in an art deco building overlooking Central Park. But he was weird. Now I have no problem with weird. I once dated a guy who liked to be spanked. But Scott’s obsession with the Jazz Age grew tiresome. Always immaculately dressed in a blue paisley ascot, herringbone vest, and a brown fedora, even in bed, he took the role too seriously. “Don’t call me Scott. Call me Daddy-O,” he would say when he would drag me to these endless lawn parties in the Hamptons, where accountants and lawyers would listen to long-dead crooners on the gramophone and make believe they lived in the world of Jay Gatsby. “And don’t use your iPhone,” talking to me like I was a child. “There were no iphones in 1927.” I know Scott’s a good catch, especially in New York, but I hate being controlled. Why do men like to control women? Why do I have to sneak behind a tree, like a criminal, just to go onto Facebook? Â It’s not 1927. Â It’s 2014.”
Jill was always late. Late for her morning train. Late for her work. Late for her dentist’s appointment. One day, she thought, she will be late for her own funeral. But that’s in her future. Today, she has bigger things to worry about. Like telling David, her non-committal friend with benefit, that she is late for her period.
How are you? How are things back in Kansas City? How is your mother? I’m writing you to tell you that I finally did it. I made my mark on the city and I got that penthouse apartment overlooking the city, just like I always dreamed about. My windows are so big and so high, it’s like God is my only neighbor. I know it’s been 35 years since I left town, and we haven’t kept in touch, but I’ve waited for you. I’ve never married or had any serious relationships. Have you waited for me too? I dream about you every night. Everything I’ve done in New York has been for you. Every deal. Every fight in the boardroom. Every climbing another inch to become the master of this metropolis has been a test to prove my worth to you. Will you marry me? Nothing has changed in 35 years. Has it changed for you?
In a few seconds, the woman in the white sweater will cross the street. She is a divorced publishing executive with a daughter in graduate school. She will bump into the guy in the tan sports jacket. He is lost in his thoughts. He works in advertising. The woman will laugh at her clumsiness, but the man will say he was about to go have dinner at Hunan Garden. Would she join him? They will order Broccoli and Chicken with Garlic Sauce, and then the guy will invite her to his apartment for a drink. They will make love and the woman, who hasn’t been with a man since her husband left her six years ago for that younger chiropractor, will have the most intense orgasm she’s had since that crazy afternoon with Johnny Spenser at Smith College. “What’s your name?” she will ask the man, his tan sports jacket neatly folded on a chair at the foot of the bed. He doesn’t answer, yet. He looks at her nakedness and finds her beautiful.
On the night before my wedding, my soon-to-be father-in-law, a conservative businessman from a prominent family in Seoul, took me out to a private bar to give me some marital advice.
“If you want a happy woman, you don’t bring your work back home with you,” he said.
“I’m still joining the force. Â Here in New York. Â It’s what I want to do,” I replied.
And my father-in-law hasn’t spoken to me since.
“I don’t see the rainbow after the rain anymore. Since meeting her, all of life has becomes the most colorful rainbow of them all.”