English Girl in New York

By: Scarlet Wilson

The crowd spilled out onto the platform and up towards the mezzanine level of the station on Fourteenth Street. Carrie could hear panicked voices all around her trying to plan alternative routes home. At least she knew she could walk from here, no matter how bad it was outside.

The sky had darkened rapidly, with thick grey clouds hanging overhead, continuing their deluge of snow.

Snow. It was such a pretty thing. The kind of thing you spent hours cutting out of paper as a kid, trying to make a snowflake. Then sticking on a blue piece of card and putting on the classroom wall or attaching to a piece of string and hanging from the Christmas tree.

It didn’t look like this in the storybooks. Thick wads of snow piled at the edges of the street, blanketing the road and stopping all traffic. The whiteness gone, leaving mounds of grey, icy sludge.

There was a creaking noise behind her and across the street, followed by a flood of shouts. ‘Move! Quickly!’

In slow motion she watched as a large pile of snow slowly slid from a roof four storeys above the street. The people beneath were hurrying past, blissfully unaware of what was happening above their heads.

It was like a slow-moving action scene from a movie. All the inevitability of knowing what was about to happen without being able to intervene. Her breath caught in her throat. A woman in a red coat. A little boy. An elderly couple walking hand in hand. A few businessmen with their coat collars turned up, talking intently on their phones.

There was a flash of navy blue. The woman in the red coat and little boy were flung rapidly from the sidewalk into the middle of the empty street. The elderly couple pressed up against a glass shop window as some frantic shouts alerted the businessmen.

The snow fell with a thick, deafening thump. A cloud of powdered snow lifting into the air and a deluge of muddy splatters landing on her face.

Then, for a few seconds, there was silence. Complete silence.

It was broken first by the whimpers of a crying child—the little boy who had landed in the road. Seconds later chaos erupted. Onlookers dashed to the aid of the woman and small child, helping them to their feet and ushering them over to a nearby coffee shop. A few moments later someone guided the elderly couple from under the shelter of the shop’s awning where they had been protected from the worst of the deluge.

‘Where’s the cop?’

‘What happened to the cop?’

A policeman. Was that who had dived to the rescue? Her eyes caught the flicker of the blue lights of the NYPD car parked on the street. It was such a common sight in New York that she’d stopped registering them.

Some frantic digging and a few choice expletives later and one of New York’s finest, along with one of the businessmen, emerged from the snow.

Someone jolted her from behind and her feet started to automatically move along the sludgy sidewalk. There was nothing she could do here.

Her own heart was pounding in her chest. Fat use she would be anyway. She didn’t have a single medical skill to offer, and the street was awash with people rushing to help. She could see the cop brushing snow angrily from his uniform. He looked vaguely familiar but she couldn’t place him. He was holding his wrist at a funny angle and looking frantically around, trying to account for all the people he had tried to save.

A tissue appeared under her nose. ‘Better give your face a wipe,’ said another woman, gesturing towards her mud-splattered coat, shoes and face.

Carrie turned towards the nearest shop window and did a double take. She looked like something the cat had dragged in. ‘Thanks,’ she muttered as she lifted the tissue to her face, smudging the mud further across her cheek. Her bright green coat was a write-off. The dry-clean-only label floated inside her mind. No dry-cleaning in the world could solve this mess.

She stared up at the darkening sky. It was time to go home. Whether it felt like home or not.

* * *

Daniel Cooper coughed and spluttered. His New York skyline had just turned into a heavy mix of grey-white snow. Wasn’t snow supposed to be light and fluffy? Why did it feel as if someone were bench-pressing on top of him? A pain shot up his arm. He tried his best to ignore it. Mind over matter. Mind over matter.

There was noise above him, and shuffling. He spluttered. Snow was getting up his nose. It was strange being under here. Almost surreal.

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