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The late December air crept through the quasi-sealed window, circumvented the curtains and filled the room with Winter’s eternal promise of depression and stagnant life. Though Central Park was but three blocks east, the chances of ever seeing it, except through taxi windows, were almost nil. You can’t have it both ways and make it, not when the business you work for is your own. Employees take time off, employers are so frantically trying to outrun themselves, they feel lucky to get sick.
It was Christmas Eve and, with the pressure of making dues to each and every one of their family members, the atmosphere in the small, frigid office was tense; even with the cheery pseudo-smiles that the employees gave you as you walked-by.
Thomas, the CEO of Thomas & Sons Hardware Department, felt that his adequate employees could handle the job of no customers. He ran out of the building as soon as he had given everyone a tenacious handshake, and caught a taxi-ride home.
He opened up the cab door, releasing the smoke that was circulating in the car for however long the driver was off-duty. Thomas put his briefcase down on the seat, and a concoction of dust and smoke rose up on both sides, creating a toxic environment for anyone, even if they’d had a perfect set of lungs.
Thomas peered over at the driver. In between his legs was A Tale Of Two Cities. The ash from his cigar had smeared itself all over the yellowing pages and his calloused fingers. One could tell he was a frequent reader, with a short supply of books at hand. The pages had ashed-over-fingerprints, from reading the book over and over whilst smoking; he clearly knew it verbatim. Thomas had tried to make conversation with the taxicab driver; alas, he did not respond.
Thomas leaned back into his seat, puffing smoke out of the seats with each breath or movement. He had decided to absorb himself back into his own world, where he was comfortable; solitude was where Thomas was most content.
Thomas was thinking about how his sister and him would always read “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...” to each other and discuss the meaning. Martha always said that with wisdom came some degree of foolishness, and the best of times are multi-faceted, and one of those sides is evil.
With his subconscious still aware of his surroundings, he was abruptly awoken by an intense jerking motion. He asked the driver what the commotion was all about, and the driver responded, “Why don’t you go see, sir? After all, it’s your stop.” Thomas had given him his fare with a smile and a nod while the cab driver sat vacant of any emotion. Thomas quickly grabbed his briefcase, breathing in the last of the must that had drifted out of the cab, and stepped into the snow. The tire tracks that had been going since dawn had left no trace of the quintessential white snow. All that was left now was the recycled and tired brown paste trying to pass as snow. Outside of his apartment building, there was a sled, with dogs of all different breeds. None of the husky kind, which is what one sees in the papers when the Alaskans hold the Iditarod. There was a woman inside the sled, wrapped in an Inuit-like coat, laying motionless. He was still several yards away and couldn’t get a respectable look at her face. He couldn’t hear anything, which was disturbing enough. Thomas was only about 4 yards away when it hit him.
He dropped his briefcase down into the snow, and walked to the side of the road. He soon joined in with the parallel of men observing this rare occurrence, questioning everything; he stayed quiet, to make sure he didn’t stand out in the crowd. Thomas fell out of formation, and tried to get over to see her. He slid through everyone, ever so gently, at the attempt to remain inconspicuous.
Thomas sat down in the muck, listening to the gossip flowing through the grapevine. “How could she have done such a reckless thing?” “How did this happen?” “Why did she feel the need to act so radical?” “How childish.” He felt something he hadn’t felt in the longest time.
Nostalgia had taken over, and he was taken back to Central Park.
He felt the cold breeze, whisking over his cherry-red cheeks, and his numb toes, living in harmony with the half-melted snow. Martha would walk along the side of him, holding his hand, and point out the most exquisite things that only children could truly appreciate. She’d always point out the sleds, and continuously repeat that she was to do that when she was old enough.
Thomas had come back to reality, and had consulted with a few of the people around to see just what had happened. They told him that she was in a sledding accident, and that she was in a coma.
Thomas had a flashback, to only a short while ago in the cab-ride over there. He had thought of A Tale Of Two Cities and why he had gotten in the car with that specific driver.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...” All Thomas was thinking about was, “Could Martha have been thinking this exact thought right before her accident? Could she have completed her wish, while ending her life in the process? Was this the right choice to finally accomplish her dream? And partially the wrong choice because of the outcome?” Too many questions that had already been answered.
He sighed and went up to his sister and whispered in her ear, “You got your wish, Martie.”