A Short Story About Ann Carlyle
I can’t imagine living deep in a city surrounded by millions upon millions of people. The constant traffic would drive me insane; waiting for hours to move a mere five inches. The smog and light pollution that obscures my view of nature’s stars takes away the last good signs that Earth is still alive and well. I can’t even envision a life where I’m thousands of miles from my family!
Ann Carlyle is from a small suburban neighborhood, a scenic ten minute drive from the slowly growing city. And, of all places, she moved to New York City to work for the growing television broadcasting companies.
On the day of the big move, she shook uncontrollably. Her palms flooded with nervous sweat and her eyes were bloodshot from a lack of sleep. I’m fine. There is nothing to worry about, I’m fine, she thought to herself.
It was a long drive from sunny Florida to dreary New York. Once she left her sunshine state, she started to sob. I’m going to miss the sun beating down on me. I’m going to miss the salty sweet air. I’m going to miss mom and dad and Franz!
Once she entered the city, she was amazed. Ann Carlyle had never seen so many buildings and people in all her life. Is the city filled with only cement? Oh wait, isn’t that Central Park? Wow! It’s huge! She snapped a photo and sent it to the family with the caption: “One day I’ll run all of this. But for now, I’ll simply admire the greenery.”
Ann was walking about the streets and getting a feel for her new neighborhood, when she smelled fresh dough and marinara sauce. She followed the delicious smell and ended up strolling into a pizzeria where she ordered one slice of pepperoni pizza. Oh my! This is the largest yet most delicious pizza ever! Why, I can eat this all the time. I best tell Franz about this, he’ll call me a fatty! She giggled, picked up her phone, dialed his number, and chatted for about an hour. It was mostly sibling talk, the older brother teased on the younger sister, and, like most siblings, he asked how she was adjusting. “I’ve only been here for a couple of hours! Jeez! Give me a break, Franz!” They promised to talk soon and bid a loving goodbye.
When she continued into the city, she noticed the faces. The various faces of diverse people: the smiles, frowns, laughs, cries. The frowns were on people dressed in business suits, the cries were placed on people dressed in frilly spring dresses and bright colored shirts. The laughs and smiles were worn by people who just didn’t seem to give a damn; Ann Carlyle was one of those. She walked with a rhythm people found odd and foreign, like the world was revolving around peace and harmony. She lived in a way the rest of the world forgot: not in a rush, she did things the slow way. She talked like a scholarly professor you wanted to take a trip with, but she never bored you with a monotonous tone or lack of personality. That was the one thing Ann Carlyle always had: personality. She could crack a joke one minute and act dreary serious the next.
Nowadays, however, Ann Carlyle lost her drive, her oomph, her personality. She no longer walked with her harmonic rhythm; she turned into a stoic, dull creature stuck like a rock. She rarely talked to her family, even though all she did back home was talk to them. She never rang her brother, her mother, or her father. But, they called her. When she walked on the street and saw another individual laugh and smile, she figured they were tourists or had just moved in. Eventually they’ll learn, she thought. Eventually they’ll become another face among the crowd. They’ll learn, they’ll learn.
It was November and the first signs of snowfall appeared outside Ann’s colossal apartment window — a window much too large for a woman who didn’t care to observe the city anymore. Snow? I’ve never seen so much snow!
She scurried out her door, flew down the 10 flights of stairs, and finally made it out into the snow covered streets. Taxi cabs were piled upon on another, people yelled from every corner of the block, the whole city seemed to stop. Ann regained her old self and so did every other New Yorker. They smiled and laughed again. They played in the snow, threw snowballs, made snowmen, made Angels.
When Christmas came, every citizen started to smile again. The bleak weather turned people into children. The cold, frigid air and the wet, hard snow turned Ann into a smiling lady who, once again, walked with her harmonic rhythm and talked in her didactic manner. The Christmas music echoed all across Manhattan, sleigh bells rang on every corner and gleeful smiles spread across the concrete city. It breathed, it felt, it lived again. But, once the new year took effect, the city stopped breathing. It turned dull, black and white, cold. The city was no longer a fun place to be in, it made Ann feel small and insignificant once more.
Why? Why does the city make me cry?
Was she to succumb to the dreary landscape of the city? Was she to live unhappy for spring, summer, and fall and happy for the winter? Was she going to live like this? No, Ann Carlyle was a strong young woman who didn’t let anyone, or anything, control her life. She packed up her loft, left her friends, and bid the city a final farewell.
Every sunrise Ann talked to her mother on the phone before she went to work. And every sunset she would tell her parents “I love you,” something she almost forgot existed when she left the sunny suburbs.