Eleven Madison Park

By S. R. Hawley

George and Sara sat across the table from one another as the waiter did his best to explain the menu and what each dish consisted of. Although George tried to listen and make out like he understood the fine subtleties of each meal, and what type of wine most complimented them, he couldn’t help looking around at the lavish surroundings he found himself in. In every direction stood the social elite of Manhattan, and the glittering things the rich take for granted, and the poor dreamily lust over. The sparkling bottles of champagne, designer cocktail dresses, silver platters of fine cuisine, 24 dollar martini’s, power suits, and the breathtaking view of Manhattan from 42 stories up. George’s time had come. George had made it.

“Have you decided sir?” asked the waiter looking at George.

“Uh, yeah,” replied George turning back to the waiter. “We’ll have the Duck Confit Risotto, with the best champagne.”

“Very good sir,” said the waiter still looking at George. “And for the first course sir?”

George reddened a little in the face and looked over at Sara.

“That is ok sir, I will bring over some Vichyssoise,” said the waiter. “That is a perfect complement to the Duck Confit.”

“Thank you,” said George still a little red.

Sara smiled over at George as the waiter walked away.

“What’s the matter, baby?” asked Sara still smiling. “I thought this was your new scene.”

George did not respond, but simply smiled and remained eye locked with his lovely girlfriend. The last four years had been so hard for the both of them. George had worked double shifts as a factory hand at an iron plant on top of going to school at Columbia, and Sara had to drop out of school back home just to work to help pay for George’s schooling. Now though it was all worth it. Every hour spent waiting for George to finish his schooling so Sara could move out there with him, every tear cried over the phone about not being together, and every penny saved just to continue to keep the lights on in his one room apartment seemed like a distant past. Now they could be together forever and money would never again become an issue.

“So, what do you think?” asked George.

“It’s very nice,” replied Sara looking out over the city.

“You don’t like it do you?”

“No, it’s not that I don’t like it,” replied Sara. “I think that it’s unbelievable, but…”

“But what,” asked George.

“Nothing,” said Sara running her hand over her dress again smiling. “I like it. And I really like this dress you bought me. I think it’s worth more than my whole wardrobe.”

George again did not respond, but instead smiled and went back to taking in the spoils of his newly found success. He just simply couldn’t get over the extravagance of the glowing scene around him. The years of dreaming and craving success had finally paid off. The late night walks with Sara and the naive dreams they shared back home had been finally realized. No longer were they destined to a dead end rural town and a life of worrying over every dollar spent. Never again would George have to fear about going to work for his dad at the bottling factory where he worked every summer in high-school hating the grimy, dusty building and the way it made him sick just to walk into it every morning, and the only thing that kept him going was the dream of a better life; The life he now had and could share with Sara. The plain white walls of the factory were now replaced with expensive tapestries and stylish art. The small break room with a broken old couch had been replaced by a 57th floor office with leather couches and a view of Central Park.

“I bet you these people here have more money on them right now than what either of our parents make in a year,” said George intently surveying the room.

“Probably,” said Sara nodding. “I thought that maybe one night this weekend we could rent a movie or something.”

“You’ve only been out here one a week and you already want to stay in a night?” asked George. “I haven’t showed you even close to everything I want you to see.”

“I just thought that it might be nice to just stay in and watch a movie like we used to do,” said Sara. “We’re gonna be here a long time, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of chances to see everything.”

“How about next week sometime,” said George. “I already have plans for us for the weekend.”

“Next week is Thanksgiving,” said Sara. “I thought we were going home.”

“I don’t think I’m going go home anymore,” said George.

“Why not?” asked Sara. “I already told my mom we were coming home and she really wants to see you.”

“Well, I just don’t see the point in flying home now when we’re going to be going home for Christmas in a month,” said George refilling his glass of champagne.

“You told your mom you were coming home last week,” said Sara. “You haven’t been home for over a year and it’s not like you can’t afford it.”

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said George. “Besides, my boss asked me if we wanted to go to some corporate dinner party on Thanksgiving. It could be a big chance for me.”

“Well I wanted to go home for Thanksgiving,” said Sara. “It’s the only chance I’ll get to see my Aunt Fay.

“Well I’m not going home next week,” said George. “I already told my boss that I would go to the dinner party.”

“Fine,” said Sara. “I guess I just won’t get to see my family.”

“You can still go home if you want,” said George. “I’ll pay for your ticket.”

“That’s fine,” said Sara. “I’ll just wait until Christmas.”

For the next few minutes the two sat silently. George spent most of his time people watching over Sara’s shoulder, while Sara gazed out the window shaking her foot back and forth.

“What bridge is that?” asked Sara pointing out the window.

“That’s the Queensboro Bridge,” said George. “It connects Manhattan to Queens.”

“What’s Queens?” asked Sara.

“Where the poor people live,” said George laughing.

“Not everyone makes as much money as you do George,” said Sara.

“I’m just joking,” George said. “I used to love Queens. That’s where I lived when I first came out here.”

“I thought you lived in Brooklyn,” said Sara.

“No, I lived in Queens,” said George. “It was a great little place, very working class.”

“Why don’t you like Queens anymore then?” asked Sara. “What’s changed?”

“Nothing’s changed,” said George. “I still like Queens, but now we live in Manhattan and it’s way better.”

“Why is it better?” asked Sara. “Because it’s more expensive?”

“I didn’t say that,” said George getting defensive. “It’s just a matter of fact.”

“A matter of fact to who?” asked Sara. “Rich people?”

“I don’t understand why you’re making a big deal about this,” said George. “Didn’t we always dream about making it big and living in Manhattan?”

“For you that was the dream,” said Sara. “Not for me.”

“I don’t understand,” said George. “We can afford to do anything we want the rest of our lives.”

“Except the things that don’t cost money,” said Sara quietly looking out the window.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked George.

“Maybe I will go home for Thanksgiving,” said Sara.

The two sat silently as the waiter brought over the chilled potato soup he elegantly called earlier Vichyssoise.

S. R. Hawley grew up in the small northern Minnesota town of Eveleth. From an early age Hawley had an active imagination and interest in the written word. Encouraged by his teachers, he took up a fascination with classic literature and spent considerable time reading the works of authors including Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dostoyevsky, O’ Henry, and Kafka. Influenced by such writers, he went on to become an English Major, taking creative writing courses, furthering his interest in all forms of writing. From poems to short stories, and novels to screenplays, Hawley enjoys all forms of creative expression. He currently holds his JD degree, is an active musician and songwriter, and continues to write and work out of scenic Duluth, Minnesota.


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