Trading Prompts: A Long Ride Home

Prompt: Normand walked out the front double doors of the building, breathing clean air, taking in New York’s beautiful scenery for the first time in 25 years.

Required objects: shotgun, horse, basket, jungle gym.


          The fresh air hit me like a brick wall, cold and rough.

          The sunlight warmed my skin like the heat permeating off of a campfire.

          The bland and huddled masses around me near herd-like, panic towards the fresh opening in the cabin, teeming to be free.

          I was their rock in the stream, I was the only object standing in the herds way. The other people tumble past me, pushing me aside to reach their own agendas, yet leaving me in the same place as before.

          The eager crowd storms onto the dock where the cramped and crowded boat laid to rest. The shambled clumsy into the lines the immigration officers set up to control the vast commerce Ellis Island had on a day-to-day basis. They soon all fled from the large boat, leaving me and the boat’s staff the only ones aboard.

          All I wanted to do was to stare out onto the bustling metropolis that was New York City.

All I wanted to do was to observe the gentle crests of marine green the waves created amidst the gentle blue-grey blandness of the Atlantic Sea.

All I wanted to do was to look upon the city that was once my home.

For a long decade and a half, I was abroad in Europe helping the post war aid efforts rebuild towns, supply aid to the ill, and most importantly, rebuild lives.

Twenty-five long years, I found my services unneeded by many, so I wandered and wandered, searching for Europe’s many wonders and treasures. I found many, but not all.

Now I am back, after a long journey I was finally home.

I looked upon the city to notice that everything has changed.

Most of the old and familiar buildings have been torn down, leaving a few stoic giants among the new environment of red giant skeletons and newer and taller sentinels. It was a forest for god, with colossal trees planted in a symmetrical, near perfect pattern that only they could make. Foreign, bustling shapes roamed the open gaps between the buildings, dwarfed in every way by the large surroundings. The air even smelled different, a new presence of what smelled like oil burning rather than the age old coal smell. It felt, different, all the well as familiar.

“Hey you, get off the boat!” a man dressed in an unfamiliar uniform yelled from one of the lines.

“One moment, sir.” I shouted to the man, the statement made him make a confused face, as if he expected me to not know how to speak English or have an accent.

I turned back into the boat cabin and grabbed my suitcase and made my way towards the back of the line.

A few minutes passed and I was confronted by the officer at the front of the line.

“Papers please” said the officer in a gruff New York accent. Ah, just hearing it again made many memories flood back, along with a touch of sadness to a sudden realization.

“Ah, here you go.” I said as I handed the man the items of identification. I spoke without the accent, after I lost it a few years into my service to unintentionally adopt a more neutral one.

He took only a few seconds to look over the myriad of documents and identifiers. A smile flashed upon his face for a brief moment accompanied by a chuckle.

He handed the bundle of paper back.

“Hey, if you’re from New York, why did you come on the boat full o’ Euros?” He asked loudly.

“I went to Europe, and became a little short on cash, this was the less expensive of my routes.”

He laughed at that.

“If I was in your shoes, I would have just given up, New York isn’t the same anymore…”

I said my goodbyes to the man and proceeded forward into the building below the benevolent goddess of the city, the Statue of Liberty in all her glory.

At least that hasn’t changed.

Inside the building was a separator with a sign saying the same thing in many languages.

To the left was where the immigrants were to enter for proper screening and to the right was the entrance for people who already had their official United States Citizenship. Without many clearance barriers, the customs procedures flew by in merely an hour. Soon enough I found myself on the streets, so pristine and people swamped. I grew wide eyed and fascinated with my surroundings. New mechanical automobiles blew past at fast speeds containing a variety of people, a police officer riding a horse with matching attire through the large crowd, shouting commands to the populace below.

It is wonderful to be in a familiar place for once. Yet…

Though the crowd, there was noting familiar about it. He was home and there was no one to greet him here, not his mother, Wanda, or his father or brother who are both named Joe.

Where are they, they shan’t forget about me, have they?

I took another look around to meet no greeting eyes, only the bland ocean of busy goers and day walkers. For another minute I repeated the task to no avail.

Alright then, I guess I’m waiting for a while…

I spotted a bench and staked my claim to wait for the welcoming party.

A few moments flew by and the crowd grew ever-moving, no one ever sat in the bench spot besides me. I looked to the side in the paper troth and found my savior to boredom, the Sear’s Catalog. The massive thing felt heavy in my hands, and even more so on my lap. I grabbed the book with glee and began to scan the pages to pass the time away.

On the first pages were the discounts and deals, in which there were mainly baskets. Wicker, metal wrought, all varieties, probably to compensate for the spring rush and Easter Sunday. The next section was the “Men’s deluxe” In which was mainly filled with male related dress, firearms, etc. One specific item that caught my eye was a pristine Scatter gun with two barrels, what a wonder. The rest of the catalog was filled with trivial stuff including furnishings, cosmetics, furniture, and much more.

“Excuse me, sir?” The voice of a woman said close by. I looked up from the monstrously sized  catalog to see a woman looking down to me, dressed in a fine blouse and matching skirt.

“Are you talking to me?” I said in my flat and placid voice.

She holds out her hand, suddenly I was confused, I put down the massive book and shook her hand.

“Marrie Genaure, I was sent by your brother. You’re Normand, right?” She asks.

It has been a long time since I heard that name. To long…

“Yeah, I am Normand, Normand Cline. Pleased to meet you.”

“Alright sir, follow me please, I apologize for the wait, traffic is bad today.”

What is traffic? I heard about that in Europe about automobiles being clogged up like a drain, I think.

I decided to keep my mouth shut and follow the lady away from the bench. I looked up to the sky’s rim to see that the sun has moved its position. I must have waited for hours.

After a few minutes she led me to one of those automobiles, a rather nice one with a white coat and silver trimmings.

She approached the vehicle and signaled the driver to start the car. The engine roared to life like a beast being awoken from its slumber. Marrie approached the back cabin and opened the door. A light nod of the head signaled me over. I was hesitant at first, the only time I have ever rode an automobile was when I rode along in an ambulance with the dead or dying.

“What’s wrong, did you see a ghost?” she mocked.

If only you knew…

I swallowed my repressed memories and thought of reuniting with my family, my brother, my parents and gathered the courage to board the lavish vehicle. She shut the door and entered the front passenger seat. The car jutted forwards and Marrie began to speak.

“Ya know, Steve is going to be happy to see you, too bad he was really busy at the firm.”

My mind was swarming with questions starving for answers, but another thing caught my attention before we departed for good.

A pristine playground with children all circulating around a an intricate metallic structure. Marrie noticed my starring and commented on it.

“I guess you haven’t seen one of those in war-torn Europe, that there’s a jungle gym.”

The car pulled away from the strange contraption and out into the life I left behind.

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