Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Down the Labyrinthine Ways, Page One

It was 1939 and she was twelve years old, her eyes bright with excitement. She clutched her mother's hand as she led them both into what the sign declared was the "Dawn of the New Age" and the "World of Tomorrow."

They had only moved to New York last year and now there was this. There was so much excitement, so much to do, so much to see, so many people around. It truly was a World's Fair and there she was, right in the middle of it. She hadn't been able to see Flushing Meadows so much before because of all the preparations, but now that she could see it, she loved it with all of her heart. She could do that because she was twelve and could give all of her heart to many things.

Even as the sun beat down, even as she sweated inside her wool sweater, she gazed up at all the exhibits, eager to see each and every one. She wanted to go to the Ford Pavilion and see the race cars; she wanted to go to the Amusement Areas and go on the parachute jump; she wanted to see and do all things.

And then she realized that she wasn't clutching her mother's hand anymore. Somewhere in the rush of people, somewhere in the excitment, she had let it slip out of her grasp. She turned hurriedly and tried to spot her mother, but she couldn't. There were so many people, just so many of them. She tried to yell out "Mom!" but there was such a din that she knew her mother would never hear her.

She tried to move against the flow of people, but it was like trying to swim against the tide. Eventually, she was left on the sidelines, desparately watching the crowd, trying to find some sign of her mother, of the light brown hair and kind smile, the woman who would pick her up (even though she was getting too old for that) and kiss her on the forehead and tell her to be more careful.

She never saw her.

She wandered from place to place, searching for her, but the Fair was too big, too crowded. Even as night approached, the people never left. There were too many of them and only one of her and soon she was lost, lost amid the world of tomorrow, lost in the dawn of a new age.

And so she hid. She hid from the crowds and the people and the world of tomorrow. She hid and cried into her wool sweater and she wished her mother would find her.

Eventually, a man who worked there found her and brought her to exact center of the Fair where her mother was waiting for her. She rushed into her mother's arms and cried and her mother told her it was okay, that everything would be okay. "Dry your eyes, Samantha," her mother said and she did. She dried her eyes and they went home together, but Sam knew, deep in her heart, that she wanted never to be lost again. To be lost was the worst thing in the world.

Years later, she would feel those exact same feelings when she was inside the City.