Rocked by Him(4)

By: Lucy Lambert

The cab smelled of pine air freshener, and with the windows up the growls and screeches of the traffic outside were muted to a dull, constant roar of city life.

He continued to talk even as he sped around traffic, performed an illegal u-turn, and cut through the park. I looked out the window at the rolling fields of grass, at the joggers and the cyclists and the dog walkers and envied them.

They all seemed so happy. I knew that not all of them were, of course. But it felt like that when I watched them.

There was a little TV screen built into the back of the front seat of the cab playing the trailer for some new romcom. I wished I could turn it off, but didn't know how.

"Ah, yes. I love this city!" Faroukh said as he angled the big yellow Crown Victoria around an open manhole surrounded by orange pylons. This move earned him a chorus of honks, but he didn't seem to mind.

I shook my head. I think I'd passed the initial shocked phase to one of anger. It burned inside me. I knew I should be enjoying this ride. My first one to work. I planned on getting a subway pass, since taking the cab every day would be expensive, but this was supposed to be a treat!

I felt the urge to go back home and check my laptop to see if I could log into his Gmail account. Maybe that fatwhorebitch he was talking with on the phone sent him emails. Then I could track her down and...

I rested the side of my head against the window as we passed beneath a bridge.

And what? I'd heard what Jerry said. He didn't want to be with me anymore. Even if I did convince the home wrecker whore he'd taken up with to dump him, what chance was there he'd come crawling back to me?

"What?" I said.

Faroukh looked at me in the mirror, a slice of his dark face visible in the reflection.

"I said it's such a nice day, is it not, miss?"

I frowned up at the sky. It was like a light blue sheet set up there above the skyscrapers. Not a cloud in it. In fact, the weather was quite nice. That felt wrong. I felt bad, so shouldn't the weather be terrible to reflect that?

"Greatest city in the world, right, miss?"

"Yeah..." I said.

I focused my attention back on that little screen, which was playing what appeared to be a promo for Ellen. She was dancing, as usual.

Maybe I should become a lesbian, I thought. No more having to deal with men. But then I remembered that club bitch from the elevator. I remembered her laugh, and the fake voice she put on to mock me. Women were just as bad as men. Worse, even.

Maybe just becoming asexual was the answer.

But then we got over to Madison Ave. All those big buildings had me in awe, and I forgot about Jerry for a few moments as I thought of all the history here, real and fictional.

One reason I kept to myself for wanting to work here was feeling like I was on the set of Mad Men or Sex and the City. The movies and TV shows said New York was where everything that was at all important happened, so New York was where I had to be.

Though, New York was also one of the only places I could find a job for my degree in marketing.

Faroukh was still talking about something or other, but I just watched the yellow taxis flock by and looked at all the beautiful people wandering up and down the sidewalks. It was like being on an amusement ride.

So, when the cab finally pulled over, disappointment twinged inside me.

"Here," I said, shoving a fresh new $20 into the little cash tray in the divider before Faroukh could say anything more.

Then I was out on the sidewalk. Steam issued up lazily from a nearby grate. Those evil, red-eyed pigeons bobbed their heads as they crawled over an upended trash can's contents.

I stood in the middle of the sidewalk like a rock in the middle of a river, people parting around me. The sun glinted off the skyscrapers that seemed more glass than metal, and the bit of air that managed to circulate around me was tinged with the scent of a hotdog stand a block down the street.

Smoothing my skirt, straightening the strap of the purse on my shoulder, I straightened my back and started walking.

I wasn't going to let Jerry ruin my first day. I had a job on Madison Ave! That day was my first as a true New Yorker.

Moving in through the big revolving door at the base of one particular skyscraper, I walked past the security desk and over to the bank of elevators. Styrex, Inc. had its offices on the 32nd floor. The elevator opened up and I did my best to squeeze in with all the other men and women in their business suits.

Everyone in there seemed to be all elbows and knees. You couldn't move an inch in any direction without treading on someone's foot. I caught hints of a dozen different expensive colognes and perfumes. My nose itched from it.

This was my first trip to the office. I'd done my interviews over Skype. Mom asked me if I felt nervous when I'd been leaving, but I said no. I'd laughed, even.

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