The girl walks to school alone, breathing in frosty air. It is fall, but nature had yet to pull its chameleon act on the leaves of the trees. New York City is slow in this field, the recognition of time that has past and gone. The absence of vibrant colors suddenly make the city fog feel warmer, a lingering of summer that refuses to let go.
At school, she learns about cells. She finds out that we age because of many reasons, and one is because the cells in our body die and chemical reactions damage molecules and we are simply preprogrammed to die. The girl wants to know if we could evade this preprogrammed death, which is a ridiculous question because everyone dies sooner or later. She clutches her pitch black hair, hair that will fade into white one day.
She goes out to dinner with her family. Her father begins to tell her how Chinese people determine if someone needs to work hard in life (the second toe is long), if someone will be lucky (birthmarks on the front of the body) or if someone will live a long life (big ears). He shows his daughter his palm. His callused finger points at a curve on the palm of his hands, an arc that sweeps gracefully all the way down to his wrist. “If that curve is long, like mine, you will live a long, long life,” he prophesies. The girl immediately glances down at her hands. Her own curve flows seamlessly until near the bottom of her hand, where a line cuts it off abruptly. She hides her hands beneath the table and chews her food slowly.
The girl sits in the train car, the rhythmic swaying lulling her to sleep. Her eyes stay wide open, however, because there is a test tomorrow and she must study. The train stops, and the doors slide open. An old man steps in, licking a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. Melted ice cream drips down onto his hands, which are shaking. She stands up. Nodding, the old man stoops down into her seat, and begins licking the cone again. The girl stares for a second as the ghost of childhood and innocence passes over the shriveled face. The train pulls quickly out of the station, and the moment is gone.