new york city

The Trouble With Tom

There is a girl in Brooklyn with two toes conjoined. Well, four, to be precise – two on each foot. Her respective pointer toes are attached to her respective middle toes by a ribbon of flesh that runs two-thirds of the way up. Tom learned about this physical quirk of hers one spring afternoon in a city park when she had asked him to please not look at her feet. He looked at them anyway and she shuddered in the fresh air, but he smiled when he saw her Siamese toes, touched them and said they were special.

Mary, Mary

When Mary was executed, the first cut of the ax missed her neck and hit the back of her head. The second cut hit her neck, but didn’t slice all the way through. A stubborn strip of flesh held her together until the executioner sawed through it. The doctor placed his hand on the top of my head. Be careful with this, he said. There’s really not so much holding it all together. The next day, I packed up and left school. I knew that at some point I’d have to go back and finish, either this school or a different one, but it didn't matter. I already knew it would never feel over.

Transience

I always know where I’m going. Except when I don’t. When I’m in New York City I’m neither a local nor a tourist. I’m not the sidewalk nor the person walking on it—I am the seam connecting the two tiles together, unnoticed but essential to stability. I’ve been here enough times to have exhausted all the usual tourist spots: to my dismay Madame Tussauds wax figures haven’t aged at all since I visited them as a kid, the same ferries that take people out to the oxidized Statue of Liberty are still running, and I’ve watched as Ground Zero has been turned into a tourist destination. Despite all of that, I still end up on the uptown train when I should be going downtown more times than I’d like to admit...