Chapter 1: The Fall

The boy walked down the aisle of the train, bright white lights and disgusting orange upholstery stinging his eyes. It wasn't supposed to be like this. The train was supposed to have individual compartments with sliding doors. The seats were supposed to be a soothing charcoal color and the light wasn't supposed to be offending. The people surrounding him were supposed to be reading the latest issue of the New Yorker, wearing 1920's style hats that threw shadows over their faces, making them look mysterious yet intellectual. He was supposed to bump into another young man like himself. They would strike up a conversation about Transcendentalism and discover that they just happen to be heading to the same destination. They would become roommates in an artsy apartment building surrounded by poets, painters, and junkies. They would support the Oxford comma together.

But no one would ever accuse him of being anything other than a hopeless romantic.

The train jarred over the tracks, and the boy stumbled, grabbing on to the dirty cream plastic back of the seat. His fingers graced over the orange leather of the seat. He shuddered. His eyes scanned the length of the train, desperately seeking a friendly face, a place to sit. Instead he saw a man in a brown suit, brown briefcase in his lap, forehead furrowed as he read a newspaper. The boy saw a ragged looking middle aged man with an enormous gray beard, sunglasses with an eye missing and giant purple pants. The man's fingers were twitching and he seemed to be mumbling to himself. He saw another boy with a large duffel bag, a gray backpack and a crew cut, whose orange sweatshirt proclaimed that he went to Syracuse University. There were plenty of open seats, but it was the boy's first time on a train and he wanted company. Sighing dejectedly, he nearly sat down in an empty seat before he spied a young girl in the seat across from him. He slid in next to her.

The girl had honey blonde hair. It completely obscured her face as she stared out the window; all he could distinguish was an ivory chin. She clutched a sea foam-green iPod with fingers sporting chipped black nail polish. He was not sure exactly what she was wearing. Being a stereotypical male, he was very lacking in his understanding of women's fashion. He decided it was a beige military jacket dress type thing with brass buttons. It complemented her tall, thin frame. She was wearing black leggings and gray ankle boots. He suddenly felt very underdressed. He looked down at his dark blue jeans and beat up black converse. Ordinary. He fingered the sleeve of his dirty old brown Columbia University zip-up sweatshirt. He wouldn't be going there anymore. He took of his gray newsboy cap and ran his hands through his dirty blond hair, sighing loudly.

The girl's head turned and she stared at him. Piercing jade eyes met dull blue ones. She removed her white earphones.

"What the fuck do you want?"

He blinked. Her voice was even, but slightly sharp. It was relatively high—she couldn't have been much older than seventeen. He blinked again. His lips parted.

The girl raised her blond eyebrows in return and twisted her lips. She looked away.

He cleared his throat, "I'm Pesh." He stuck out his hand. "And you are?"

"How old are you?"


"Well Pesh, no one under thirty shakes hands."

She reaffixed her earphones. He chewed his lip. He started to speak, but dropped his hands in his lap and said nothing. He wanted to say he was just looking for a friend. No, not a friend, a mere acquaintance would do. But he couldn't. He had never been able to open up like that. Not even at home. That is why he was here…for the most part. But this girl had actually answered him when he talked to her. He had to try.

"Where areyougoing?" he blurted quickly, red flush rising on his pale cheeks.

"I," said the girl as she carefully removed the earphones once again "am going to New York City. Obviously."

Shit, he thought, how to connect, how to connect.

"Uh…where in the city…to be…exact?" he finished lamely.

"The Village."

"Ah…" he trailed off.

She stared at him, and cocked her head. "You're not from around here are you?"

Just as he was about to respond no, the train stopped and the girl stood up. They had arrived at Penn Station. The girl proceeded to walk and get off the train. He hesitated. Act on impulse for once in your fucking life, he though. Then he took off after her.

She walked surprisingly fast. He nearly sprinted to catch up with her, narrowly avoiding knocking into an Asian woman dressed in a suit, carrying a large messenger bag. He couldn't believe all the people clad in business attire surrounding him; it was 11 o'clock am. However, he bounded up to the blond girl's side and let out a winded "Hey."

She stopped. "Are you the kid I just met on the train?"

"Hahah, yea. Ummm…" he bit his lip.

"Er…are you some kind of stalker?" the girl's eyes took on a concerned look.

"No!" he exclaimed as his voice cracked. He cleared his throat. "I was…I am…just like…ok this is my first time to New York, I have no place to stay and I have no one to ask. I know I could just ask the first guy I see at a 7-11 but you're the first person to look somewhat hospitable and I was just wondering…I don't know, I was just thinking you look to be around my age and I was just wondering…"

"So you have no place to go and you want to stay with me?" she paused for a brief second. "Okay, cool." She continued walking.

"Wait, are you serious?"


"Uhh…thanks. A lot, actually."

They continued walking.

"So…uh…how old are you?"


"And uh, where are we going?"

"The Village. Didn't I already tell you that?"

It was huge. It was loud. It was colorful. He couldn't take it all in. A soft breeze played about his hair as yellow taxi cabs screeched past him in the late spring afternoon. The weather was unusually warm for this time of year in the city, and he nearly skipped down the sidewalk of Fifth Avenue. Central Park was on his side and he could see people biking and walking aimlessly around amidst the trees and paved walkways. Everyone looked so relaxed, so peaceful in the warmth, the sound merely white noise. He gasped at the beautiful stucco hotels he saw and the bustle around them. He was so taken in by the sights of the dizzying around him that he didn't even see the tree root. He tripped spectacularly, nearly falling into the street before he felt hands around his waist, pulling him upright.

"Jesus!" exclaimed the girl. He looked at her. "You could have gotten run over! What the hell!"

He smiled, "it's just so…" he smiled, "breathtaking."

The girl's deep frown turned into a grin. "Well…you certainly are something else."

The boy ambled ahead, sporting a small smile. He let out a sigh. Life…was fine. Absolute fine. It hadn't been so in a long while. He had just been kicked out of…no he left by choice…No. He wasn't going to go there. He was in the city where he was destined to be. A warm breeze was playing at his hair and the sun was shining, but the trees lining the sidewalk provided shade. Breathe, take it in.

For that bright brief second, he felt infinite.

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