Love in the time of an Arctic Freeze
New York City is frozen.
My heart is not. It beats wildly in my chest, a pinball trapped between two columns, furious and frantic. My face burns against the gray winter air as I walk with Rachel to the 14th St / 8 Ave subway station. At this time of night, it’s quiet in Chelsea. I think about the summer, and how if I had known her, we could have walked the highline and gotten ice cream and stayed up until 1am.
The moon is full and blindingly bright. We’re not close enough for me to even think about reaching for her hand.
“So,” she says sweetly, with a teasing glance over, “when you get into Cooper Union, and become a famous architect, do you promise to build a statue of me right in the middle of the Jackie O rez?”
“Sure.” I laugh. “We can take the duck boats out to see.”
“Uh— yeah, the paddleboats, you know them. What, do they not have them at Central Park?”
“No, they just have rowboats,” she says, and dissolves into giggles. “Where are you from?”
“New Jersey,” I mutter, faux insulted. I nudge her with my shoulder. “Being a Brooklyn native isn’t something to make into your personality.”
“Oh, it totally is, Olivia! My dad’s email was literally brooklynborn.”
We slow our pace. She’s still laughing, blinking rapidly in the wind. “What even are duck boats? You’re not talking about those things in Boston that kill people on the daily, right?”
I roll my eyes. “No, not those. That’s Duck Tours. And they’re exactly how they sound, they’re paddleboats that you sit in and peddle with your feet and you can ride across the pond, but they’re shaped like swans.”
A pause. “Swan boats, then.”
We’ve reached the station. She takes her hands out of her pockets and wipes at her eyes with a groan. “Christ, it is so cold. I dunno how I’m gonna go to my grandparents’ after this. Like, during Hanukkah, it was like… negative eight degrees in Northampton.”
My smile, even as my lips tremble from the cold, is impossibly fond. I look down and hope she didn’t catch my softness. “Well, you could always stay with me.”
“I’m never stepping foot into New Jersey.” She reaches out to gently touch my shoulder. “I gotta go. Good luck with your test, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow,” I echo, and offer my arm out for a hug. She accepts, quick as a flash, then darts down the stairs.
I shake my head then go back the way I came, heading to catch the 1.