Sep 23, 2012


By Mina Khan

Jane opened the window of her new house and let the sounds and aroma of New York overwhelm her senses. Enthusiasm engulfed her as it was her first day in the city, the city she had dreamt of touring since her eighth birthday. She twisted her thick copper hair into a knot and anchored it at the base of her neck with pins, and then grabbing her purse, she sauntered out of the house.

Jane's gaze was locked onto the cloudless blue sky. The air was crisp and the sun was shining gloriously. The day looked ravishing. She made her way to a busy street which was crowded with vehicles of every description, from taxicabs to buses, and ordinary cars to limos. She sighted a few shops as she ambled along the street. The smell emanating from these shops tingled her nose. The air was filled with the odour of onion, garlic, pepper and spices. She held her breath for a moment as she walked past. She wondered how the people working inside the shops bore the smell. Perhaps they were used to it.

Walking ahead, the smell of freshly brewed coffee drew Jane into a cafe. It was the most exquisite cafe she had ever seen, with big leather sofas and different art displays. She stood there admiring the place until a barista with a burly frame appeared before the counter.

"Hello madam, what can I get you?" asked the barista, courteously.

"Hi, I am new in New York, I don't really know what's on the menu here," replied Jane.

"Oh, what is a beautiful lady like you doing strolling around New York City?" asked the barista, flirtatiously.

A smile blossomed on Jane's face and a gleam of amusement lightened her large grey eyes; she replied, with a tiny chuckle, "A nice cup of coffee will do."

Walking out of the coffee shop, Jane's attention was diverted towards a milliner in the corner of the street. The milliner made her head swim with seasons- his hair was all the colours of autumn; his eyes the bright blue of a winter sky; his smile as wide as any summer sun. Jane's passion for stylish accessories made her spell-bound at the versatile collection of hats that he was selling. There were hats with intricate designs to smaller understated styles. Jane could not resist the temptation to buy a hat for herself despite its high price.

Along the street, under a very thick canopy of oak branches draped over the street gave Jane an illusion of walking in a tunnel. The occasional gentle breeze caused the playful oak leaves to collide with one another. Some leaves danced side to side as they flew down from the high above, while others spun out of control before landing on the ground. The air carried the scent of citrus, straying over Jane's nose as she approached a small lemon tree standing at the sidewalk. Many ripened, bright yellow lemons hung low from the branches. She decided to take a few lemons home as the thought of fresh lemonade made her mouth water. The lemon tree was followed by a long row of pink and white oleanders planted along the sidewalk in a bed of dirt raised about two feet above the ground.

After a minute of standing still and appreciating nature, Jane resumed her walk. She eventually came to a bookshop. Inside, there was a myriad of books, and she peered thought some of the shelves for a while. As she walked out of the peaceful and cool air-conditioned bookshop, she was instantly hit by a blast of hot air from the street. Three hours had glided away, and she was utterly exhausted by now. She got into a taxicab and headed home. Despite her weariness, she was contented, because she knew it was only her first day in one of the most spectacular cities of the world.

Jane glanced out of the window and was astounded to see the skyscrapers. She was stunned with their heights, almost reaching the sky. On top of one of the skyscrapers was an enormous spire like a needle, and one of them had numerous windows which sparkled in the sun, making her eyes blurry. She lay back in the car and closed her eyes. She could hear the horns of the cars honking. She knew she was in a busy, complicated city, but the bustling and commotion was what made it, New York! She loved every aspect of it.

The taxi driver soon brought Jane home. Noticing the door of her house already open, an uncomfortable premonition of fear pervaded her senses. She ran to the house, but as soon as she entered the door, terror held her like a vicelike grip. Her face froze in a glassy stare of horror, and she could not summon the courage to move. Horror-struck, she continued to stare at the grim and ghastly scene before her.


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