She continues talking to the counter – not me, “Your father has a job there and he would like for you to accompany him.”
As usual it is strictly a business tone with her.
“It is a big job so you’ll probably be there for the remainder of the summer. This guide is so that you don’t inconvenience George and Emma.”
I want to jump for joy. This will be the starkest contrast of any other summer I’ve had; I won’t have to twiddle my thumbs for something to do for once in my life. But I have to play it cool or I could easily blow this for myself.
“What’ll you do all by yourself?” I put on my best voice of concern. Inside I’m exploding.
“I picked up some extra work this summer, I could use the time to myself,” she says though she already sounds annoyed that I should ask such a question.
I decide not to push my luck and ask anything further.
Mother is a law professor. What she does has no bearing on my interests though I imagine her choice of profession might have something to do with my need to overachieve.
“Okay,” I say grabbing for the box of Cheerios from the center of the table. I am daydreaming about a place that has only existed to me in pictures and stories though I still am very aware of when my mother leaves the room because it means that I can riffle through the guide without having to worry about showing my enthusiasm.
I flip through the pages and settle on the most famous building I can find. The Empire State Building. One that is clearly floating through my subconscious.
I am gliding over the tops of buildings being taken by which ever way the wind takes me. I am moving south over New York City – I can see the Statue of Liberty, teeny tiny in the distance – along the Hudson River. I see the remnants of an old railroad line overgrown with weeds. The wind takes me toward the center of Manhattan Island and drops me atop the Empire. “Simon,” my father whispers.
I’m back in the kitchen. The sun is beating down on me through the television style window placed about the kitchen sink. How cliché. I’m sweating and my Cheerios have grown to twice their size in the milk.
“Simon, are you okay?” Father is a few inches from my face, “You are white as a sheet.”
“I-I’m good,” I say as I clear my throat. I take a sip of the starchy milk and ask my father if I really looked that bad.
He either manages not to hear or ignores me. Instead he taps the cover of my guide and says, “Looking forward to our trip?”
“I suppose,” I say. I still don’t want to jeopardize this opportunity, “Yes sir, I am.” A little insurance couldn’t hurt.