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  • Writer's pictureRhiannon Ling

Excerpt: See You Again Sometime

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

It started with the hat. I remember the moment tangibly, as if the memory were dancing on my fingertips, conjured out of thin air. It was at the bottom of the stairs, crooked haphazardly across the railing like a carnival barker’s hat. It enticed me, almost like a remembered sixth sense; I can recall the feeling still now, fingers aching, wanting to grasp that worn fabric as if I had done it a hundred times before.

It was a quick few wobbles to the stair, one jerky grab of the fist. The weathered brown in my hand, I laughed. It felt so lovely against my skin. Something about it was so gentle and familiar and right, even to my virgin mind. A soft breeze was blowing, wafting my small body to and fro; the sun was kind and warm behind cirrostratus clouds. The grass had been green under my feet a moment ago, but now…now it felt as if it were emerald with this magical hat in my hand. The grass was greener on the other side, perhaps, but I hadn’t a clue what that other side was, just that it resided in this old piece of fabric, beautiful to my eyes.


A laugh escaped me once more, and I threw it across my head. A sharp inhale followed as I felt my eyes dilate, dissociate. It came back. I knew.

The walk was bustling, pure chaos. New Model Ts honked impatiently, ruthlessly puttering this way and that across the streets, uncaring of pedestrians. The experimental elevated train squawked from above, soaring across the intersection with an urgency only an urban dweller could understand. Strangers bustled from every angle. It was an endless sea of people, rustling skirts and morning coats combining with automation and smog. Something about it was archaic. Something about it was sophisticated. Something about it was marvelous.


Wonder and anxiety pooled in my stomach, churning with the frenzy of flitting butterflies in Central Park. I smoothed my waistcoat, straightened my shoulders, and urged a small smile. Hard gentility was my goal for this early afternoon: a perfect gentleman, but with ferocity, decisiveness, and ambition. I aimed to straddle a perfect balance of the traits, or as close as one could get without losing one’s humanity. That was, I assumed, what Adolph Ochs would want. An old-fashioned gentleman with progressive ideas, pushing along the paper into the twentieth century.


I turned to gaze about the frenetic metropolis once more, at the newly minted Times Square. The title fit far better than Longacre, that much I could surmise.


It was time.



© Rhiannon Ling, 2020


Cover photo courtesy of Favim.

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