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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #1398027
Beginning of a story-takes place in 1907. First two chapters. Imput appreciated, thanks!
         The sound of the door slamming behind him resonated in the atmosphere like an ancient stone wall that had crumbled down. 
         The bitter winter wind enveloped the young man’s body as he tightened up the scarf around his neck; the icy breeze sneaking underneath his overcoat and piercing at his body, raging with anger.  He didn’t understand at all—
         “How could he be so pigheaded?  Can he not see any other opinion but his own?” as he walked away from the Baldwin House, his family’s Fifth Avenue residence.  A large, condescending and extravagant mansion—just like his father thought the young man—a huge wasted space full of old, cold and ornate rooms.  Countless chambers where countless business deals took place—many of which the young man had quietly questioned their integrity.  He had to admit though: his mother was a decent housekeeper; she tried very hard to fill the empty rooms with loving warmth—regardless of how unsuccessful she actually was.
         The young man walked a few blocks down Fifth in the chilling night—it was at least past eleven by now—and approached the construction site of what was soon to be the refurbished Plaza Hotel.  A friend had told him it was nearing completion, due to open to the public nine months or so from now, in October.  The structure was indeed magnificent; he could not deny it that.  Overlooking a pond in Central Park, it truly was a work of art. 
         The young man continued to walk through the freezing winter night into the park, where he sat on an old wooden bench to collect his thoughts.  Beneath a few trees he sat, and looked out at the small pond in front of him.  Nature was beautiful, even in the night.  The water reflected the light from the few street lamps on the road.  In the waters lay the reflection of the magnificent building behind him, which stood rooted so firmly to the ground.  The hotel emulated a sense of power, one that the young man never felt before.  It commanded over the land around it.  Like a majestic ruler with an iron fist, it commanded the night. 
         He adjusted his wool overcoat and his matching hat to better shield his body from the chill of the night.  He was so frustrated, and so cold.  The bench where he sat seemed to be more like home than the mansion that he was told he should want, symbolic of the life he should live.  The dark stone walls that trapped him didn’t even compare to the openness and beauty of the park.  Here he was free to do as he pleased, not contained by the boundaries of his home. 
         He could walk the paths and look at the flowers under the warm sunlight in the spring; or sit and read under a tree in the summer to escape the world and visit a far away place. 
         Nevertheless, it wasn’t as he desired; it never had been.  Not since they left England fourteen years ago—when they left the rolling hills of the estate his seven-years-old self loved so much to explore.  Running through the woods in search of hidden places; and learning about the world he loved so dearly.  Surrounded by the sounds of nature, the boy felt as if the world was at his feet, and not even the sky was his limit.
         Yet there wasn’t a sound to be heard tonight; only the silence of the water and the chaos in his mind.

         He awoke to the blinding light of the sun in his eyes.  Realizing he had slept the night on the bench in the park, he sat up and quickly fixed his coat.  Preparing himself for the hysterics of his mother when he returned him, he rose from the bench that had cradled him through the night and went on his way out of the park.
         It was early yet, only a few people were out.  A woman wearing a peculiar purple coat pushing a baby carriage passed him by.  She was humming a tune that he recognized; yet he could not remember the name.  The woman stopped for a moment, took a deep breath of the crisp morning air, and then spoke to him.
         “Good mornin’ son, isn’t it a bit early for you to be up?  I have a boy about your age.  He sleeps ‘till noon then goes to class over at Columbia.  Why you out here so early?”
         “Oh I, I was just passing through.”
         “That doesn’t answer my question,” the woman replied snappily.  Just then the baby in the carriage started to cry.  “I best be on my way.  Best you find something to occupy your time.  Good day to you boy.”
         “Same to you, ma’am.”

         Those words rang in his head like the bell of Saint Patrick’s.  The peculiar woman reminded him of his father.  Even though he was taking classes in philosophy and anthropology at Columbia, his father was always questioning what “his boy” planned to do with his life.  Unfortunately, his father didn’t approve of what he really wanted: to curate a museum.  If it wasn’t business, it wasn’t his business—the words the man lived by.
         Just the thought sickened him.  How could you live life with only your self in mind?  His two older brothers had both followed in their father’s footsteps; maybe it wasn’t that farfetched of a thought.
         It just doesn’t click in his head.  His father has no regard for culture, no interest in music or art—save is adoration for the color green—or history.  It is all about the numbers and the bank.  He thought it might be related to why they had moved.  No one ever told him directly why the family had left England, but he had heard a bit while eavesdropping as a boy.

         The boy was walking in the hall upstairs when his father came home late one evening, later than ever before, completely out of breath.  He yelled for his wife and then spoke in whispers to her in the parlor.  The young boy crouched silently at the top of the staircase.
         “It’s gone,” utters Edwin Carter.
         “Sit down.  What’s gone?” asks his wife, Elizabeth.
         “Everything,” he said in despair as he threw a newspaper onto the table between them.  From the distance the young man, then just a boy, couldn’t read the headline.
         “Everything is gone.  They’ll be taking away the house, all the money in the bank.”
         “Yes goddamnit, everything!” his father screamed, “It’s…all gone.  Save the bit I put away…the bit I went Swiss with,” he paused, “it should be enough…enough to get us to America.”
         “America?” she asked, dumbfounded, “Why dear?  Must we—”
         “Yes,” the bitter man replied, “we have to leave; I have a few connections there.  We’ll be ok…it might take a few years to—”
         The crouched boy stairs sneezed.
         He froze in place.
         His parents were hushed from then on out.
© Copyright 2008 Ryan M. Manthey (foreverwalking at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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