★★★★ The morning was well short of full daylight; rain poured out the gray-brown dimness. The elementary school was closed for the day and the prospect of getting the preschooler off to preschool with the first-grader in tow seemed if not impossible at least pointless, or too difficult. Things stalled out, the breakfasts not quite finished, the clothes pulled out but not yet replacing the pajamas. To turn the kettle back on and follow up the first cup of tea would amount to surrender. Weren't the showers almost past? A radar map showed them going by, but time was going by too. The children made it down the elevator and a step or two out the door, at which point it became clear that further progress would require going back up to fetch a brace of umbrellas. The going-back-up part happened, anyway. Across the avenue, a worker swept water off the open slab of the new tower's top floor. Each stroke sent a sold-looking mass of water over the edge, where it blew south and broke into droplets and vanished within the first five stories of the drop. The rain was over, but the dripping carried on heavily. Water splashed down through the grate onto the subway tracks. The landing on the stairs up out of the station downtown was sheeted with water, held by a clogged drain. And then, in the time it took to eat a long lunch, the story changed utterly. A brightening outside the restaurant windows revealed itself to be a hazeless sky with pristine white clouds sailing across it on a drying breeze. The sky over Houston Street was vast and open. The moon was ascending, its curve tilted just a little away from straight up. Garbage was coming unstuck from the pavement, matchstick and bottle cap separating themselves from the ground with a sharp slice of shadow. Putting on sunscreen in the gray morning had felt like superstition, now justified. A line of literary aficionados stretched around the corner and down the block from the bookstore. On Broadway, the building facades framed a space of immense luminous white volumes, shaded with gray, on a scale that made the streetscape look like an assemblage of paper cutouts. A beam of light slipped under the apartment door and ascended to somewhere above knee-high on the far wall of the hallway. The western clouds were purple and skinny, and for a moment the sunset traced a bright pink-gold line along the leading edge of each one.
Friday, June 6th, 2014
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