The City and the Girl: a short story


Staff Writer
As our plane is about to land in San Francisco, I notice that the young girl sitting next to me has been looking out of the plane window with her right hand under her chin for a while.
“Are you a student coming back for a family reunion?” I ask when I see a backpack by her feet. I am curious about what she is thinking while watching the city from the sky.
She turns to face me. “Yes, I’m on my winter break.”
“So, um, are you reconnecting yourself with your hometown underneath? I mean, you keep looking at it.”
“Oh yes, I’m always amazed by the beauty every time I see it from the plane.”
“That is pretty impressive.”
She smiles and shifts her attention back to the window. In my 42 years of life, I’ve never been awed by the beauty of any city, but the young girl next to me feels this way every year. I tilt my head and glance outside. There is only yellow and black, and they are distinct from each other everywhere except along the main avenues, where the yellow stretches to the edge of the sky and disappears into the black.
The author of a book I once read wrote that the life of the city comes from its streams of light. We are getting closer to the ground, and now we can see cars either sneaking behind skyscrapers or rushing by on the freeways. It is late at night, but there are still so many cars on the road that it makes me wonder whether one of their stereos is playing music to the same rhythm as my heartbeat. Inside the plane, lights have not turned on yet; the passengers are quiet, resting before they reach another destination on land.
It is when I am about to close my eyes and enjoy the last moment of peace on the plane that the girl speaks to me: “When you asked me your question, I was imaging that while I came towards the city, it was also running to embrace me.” She laughs. “And it’s not really even about coming home, it’s more like I’m stepping into bed and my whole body is being covered in blankets again.”
I press my lips into a smile. “That’s cool. I wish I could understand your feeling, but my situation is different, so…” I touch my nose. “I hope you have a great time at home.”
“Sorry, I’m so deep in my thoughts, please just forget about what I said! I hope you have a great time too.”
I’m sure I will have a great time uniting with my friends, but right now I feel sorry for not being able to experience one of the most beautiful human feelings I’ve heard about in my life.