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Patricia Kruger

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    I am a recently retired attorney, fanatical reader, married 37 years, mother of two adults. I love literature and active living.

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  1. Opening, introduces protaganist, first setting, conflict and wound A slender, harried woman in a tailored career gal navy suit emerges from the Number 6 Lexington Avenue subway into the main concourse of Grand Central Station tugging a young boy’s hand. Weaving expertly through the throngs of rushing morning commuters she clutches the recalcitrant child steering him like a puppy who is not permitted to stop and sniff the tantalizing aromas of the sidewalk. “Mommy, look! Thtars on the roof.” Jenny would like to stop and explain the amazing star map of the night sky on the celestial ceiling of the landmark and explain the battle to save the dome as an allegory of good and evil. She even knows the inner details of what became an historic case argued before the Supreme Court and championed by Jackie Onassis and her former boss, but the saga of saving the architectural treasure is far too long for today. Today determines everything. Today decides her future and they are late. Instead, she pulls harder until they wash out onto East 42nd Street. “Please Aidan, hurry. Let’s play a game. Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Step on a line break your father’s spine. Walk forward and jump over the lines so you don’t hurt me and daddy.” Aidan seriously considers the mottled sidewalk ahead and begins twisting and hopping to avoid the forbidden cracks, propelling himself forward, barely missing startled commuters, all the while zealously attached to his mother’s hand. “Ouch, you broke it,” gasps Jenny, pretending to fall to the ground as Aidan stomps decisively on a ragged crack in the sidewalk just in front of their destination. Aidan laughs in delight. “Leth do it again, I promith I won’t break you thith time.” “No way, my back will collapse and besides we’re here. Now remember what I told you last night. Sit still, be polite and answer all the questions with your most wonderful words. If you do I’ll get you any action figure you want. Can you do that for me?” “Yeth.” “And please honey, try to answer with more than one word. They give extra points for extra words. Like in basketball, you get more points for more baskets. Think of each word as a basket.” He gazes up at her but gives a no word answer. “Okay, let’s go.” A 36-story tower with a spectacular three-story tall granite carving above the glass entranceway proclaiming THE NEWS looms above them. The relief depicts masses of people, trees and the phrase, “He Made so Many of Them.” Menacing striped rectangular towers of gray and black dominate the remaining skyward stretch. Jenny thinks that the quote eerily sums up her cause for panic while she squares her shoulders, breathes deeply, pushes open the heavy brass entrance and spills into the building. Erupting from the lobby’s center like a magical apparition is an enormous spinning globe of the earth. Aidan escapes her grip and dashes towards the rotating sphere, stopped only by the ironwork fence surrounding the planet. “Mommy, ith the world! Ith Thuperman’th building!” Holy Daily Planet, he’s right. The rotunda is a sci-fi fantasy come to life. All that’s missing is the time travel lever that will bring them back to the age of dinosaurs. Regrettably, awestruck as they are, an exploration of the globe, compass and meteorological instruments in this hall of wonders is a derailment she cannot afford. Jenny regrets that she is too often the warden, constantly calling on her exuberant, curious boy to hurry, to move along, to wait until later. There’s time to wallow in the wonder that surrounds them but today is not the day to switch to fly a kite mode as here she is dragging her son into the Educational Research Bureau’s elaborate offices so Aiden can take the entrance test to private Manhattan kindergartens; the first rung of an ever-accelerating ladder that Jenny has spent months positioning into place. She has doubts and even twinges of egalitarian guilt about this path, but her qualms are drowned by her fears. Fear that Aidan will sink in an overcrowded public school system. Fear that he will lose his curiosity and eagerness to learn about everything he sees. And, mostly, perhaps primarily, fear of losing her hard-earned life in the city she dreamed of living in since she was six and marveled at a holiday bedecked Rockefeller Center in an otherwise leaden childhood. Jenny has succeeded in New York, has a great job, met her husband here, had her children here and desperately wants to stay. But, if Aidan cannot get into a school that nurtures, has some sports and is academic Mike will win. Her husband is clamoring to move to any place that has green outside his front door. He craves open spaces, fireflies, and beers by a barbecue with friendly neighbors. He pictures catches on the lawn with Aidan and bike rides with Grace in a bucket seat. He yearns for a separation from the frenetic pace of work and the home he comes home to afterward. Her arguments about commuting time, childcare and lack of culture take a back burner to his idyllic vision.
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