The train station was empty.
There were a few Others here and there, but none of that sense of rushing that he enjoyed passing through on his daily walk. No stampede of humans in mad pursuit of destinations. He wandered past the two khaki colored para-military police, their hard-metal weapons prominently displayed. All the shops and restaurants were closed.
As he exited on the other side there were three more of these insect like humans in threatening killer gear. Strange things humans do to feel what they call safer, he thought, not daring to look into those eyes above the safety masks.
From there he took a bus—the very few passengers that there were had to enter through the back door these days—uptown, towards his favorite park.
The walk down to the river was a favorite part of his daily routine. He’d alternate streets to diversify his wanderings, but always towards that water. One of the few rewards amidst the losses of getting old, and even moreso moving through this New Silence—a couple hours strolling and some time at his Pondering Place.
Today, as he did at least once a week he chose to walk down 86th Street past the huge construction site. Last November they tore down the grand old hotel that stood there, leaving an enormous cavity in the ground. In December there was more excavation and by January a foundation was beginning. In February the roots of a structure was beginning to emerge. But by mid March everything came to a halt.
He peers through one of the the little plexiglas windows they installed in the fence at the structure, wondering how long it will be before the work can resume, or if indeed the huge hospital building pictured on the fence will ever rise.
His favorite bench was near an a huge old tree—a London Plane, with a view of the river and Queens on the other side—and today it and all the other benches were available. It wasn’t that long ago that these benches would be full of people, having lunch, reading, sitting and chatting, doing things on their cellphones, kids playing. The New Silence was all around, including almost no traffic sounds from the FDR Drive underneath the park.
He’d named the tree Richard, after an author of a book about trees that he particularly loved. Today he sat sideways on the bench so he could admire it, bathe in the awe of this being’s strength. Humans had been knocked off the track of their lemming rush, but Richard was undaunted—growing onward in his cycles in his own time—roots and leaves breathing in and out.
It was quite a while later that his reverie was broken by the horn of a passing tug boat. Not that he could discern, but Richard, working in Tree Time, had certainly gotten a bit larger.
Maybe he’d go up 83rd Street—text his friend Robert and do a little distanced wave from street to window—before catching a bus back downtown, cutting through that cavernous train station, and heading back to his cocoon.
© AleXander Hirka 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Read RemingtonWrite’s version here:
In August 2020, I set myself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image was that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to my Mom and the concept was Time.
In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.