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“New York is beautiful like this.” She does this a lot, talks to the world. Her words can reach out in a way I’ve never seen. Maybe it’s the way Kate Algide drags everyone in for a good story for even just to hear her mumble little nothings that is so d*mn mesmerizing. We all like a good story. I don’t know what makes her tale so different from all the rest. Somehow, though, it manages to.
Kate’s story is about a hurricane.
“Without the people?” I reply, turning to watch her watch the rain. Kate surveys the water soaring down at a distance. The city sits frozen, terrified as the wind closes in. The two of us just sit, not more a few hundred yards away from the George Washington Bridge. Kate sits on her usual stone and I on my usual deadened log. Everything is disfigured and blurred in this weather.
“Without the crowds, yes. That could be it,” Kate answers. She wants to continue to ramble; I see it in her eyes, a desire stowed away. I cannot remember the last time she said much of anything. She just stares at the haze falling over the curtain of darkness. The tops of buildings jump mercilessly into the fog, all too willing to disappear. Lightning strikes. Kate doesn’t move.
“It’s all a little eerie, isn’t it?” She looks at me, smiles, and looks away again. I miss her grin the moment it grows fainter and fainter until it joins the deadened smog.
“Definitely.” She does not stop talking, just pauses. “So is it true?” Thunder haunts our ears, echoing across the George Washington Bridge.
“Vague that up a bit for me, Kate.” It takes my sarcasm a few minutes to join the conversation. She laughs through choppy breaths from her nose.
“Are you really?” Pause. “Running?” The rumbling clouds quiet in anticipation, longing for my answer. It only takes one word for the anxiety to end. I hear her sigh in the silence of it all.
“Yes.” Kate looks at me. She eyes my platinum blonde hair, the bangs she cut herself. For the first time, the first time in a long time, I can’t look at her. A tear forms in the pit of her eye, threatening to drop if this is not some horribly humored joke.
“From what? What could you possibly be running from?” I’m still not looking at her.
“Everyone. Everything.” Break to think for a moment. “I’m not running away. I’m walking. I told Mom and the family. They’ll let me walk, I know it.” Kate shakes her head, bowing it to reach her folded knees.
“I won’t… you won’t. Who do you think I have?” Kate urges. Her voice is not designed to be angry, or even sound it.
“You don’t need anyone to hold onto, Katrina. What you are now is who you have always been,” I tell her. She stands from the rock she sits on.
“I don’t want to be a survivor, Rena! You’re one too. We’re all survivors. But we have to die too, even after being saved.” She doesn’t sit.
“Katrina, he is-“ This is the time I hear the waves. There is not much to the crash, just the quick crackle of water and it ends. She talks over the water disagreeing with the rocks.
“Don’t say his name.” Kate’s voice is strong and deep, coming from the back of her throat.
“I wasn’t going to,” I assure her. She hasn’t let anyone say his name in six months. I know she thinks about it though, spelling it out slowly and remembering there were a mother and a baby behind what sounded like such an evil name. “He is dead. No heartbeat; no thoughts, lying in his own cold now.”
“He was always cold.” I remember that, I do.
“Just listen. He hurt you. And me, okay?” Kate nods.
“The others he killed instead of hurt.” Three people, no, three bodies. They were cold, too.
“I can’t, Irene. I can’t survive this. These memories, these noises I hear. I still hear them.” The clicking of the rifle, the begging screams, the feel of the rope hugging the underside of my chin are all there.
“Don’t survive then, sis. Live instead.” The water never sounded like tears to me. Now it cries out in a rancid fit. Kate Algide hugs me. Though she is not Kate Algide. She is not a story to be spread, or a storm to be had, or a masterpiece with its paint still wet and running.
Kate Algide is a girl, just a girl. My sister hugs me, not realizing how great a tale she has potential to become, not realizing how terrifying a storm she may be, and fully recognizing she is nothing like a work of art.
She tells a story, her story, with life. Because that’s what the memories are to her, each and every one is another incomparably, unimaginably true word.
Kate’s story is about a girl in a hurricane.
“I’m leaving when the storm ends,” I tell her, embracing her in a moment’s hug. She is warm.
“I have until the rain stops.” Kate has until the rain stops to say goodbye, wish me well, and move on. She doesn’t though. She just watches the pelts of rain drop out of the sky.
New York City is hardly the city for me.
That’s why I left.