It is with much drudgery that I dragged myself back to the Park Avenue flat. My feeling of desperation was exasperated by the subway ride. Once again, I was tightly packed between the tired and the downtrodden. Once again, I was prodded by elbows in places I did not know existed. The only novelty was being the unwilling recipient of a poem.
A modern day jester, who deluded himself into thinking he had talent, performed his ode in the crowded subway car. The performance was rendered at a volume high enough that pedestrian on the streets overhead could hear it despite the constant honking. The best that could be said was that the elocution was clear. Although the emphasis was not always on the right syllable.
I put on a fake smile for the doorman, and headed straight to the flat, and to bed. I wanted to lock New York out. I wanted to never again see the United Nations, and it selfish quest to make the world a better place. I wanted to be alone. Of course, I could not be. Ypres was there. Silent, but there nonetheless. I slept coddled only by desperation. The outside world a crushing force of distress.
The next morning, I rolled out of bed. I did this either figuratively or literally, I cannot remember which describes it best. The end result was that the front half of my person, the best half, I might add, was against the floor. I lay there for a decent amount of time. I was immobile. My only company was the noise from a mouse below the floorboards. At least, I hope it was a mouse.
Ypres came in like an officer about to wake up a platoon with a bugle. She was calm, rigid, and unperturbed. I greeted her with a guttural groan.
“Shall I draw the curtains?”
“It is not necessary, Ypres,” I said, still facing the floorboards. “I am not going in to work today.”
“Have you received a day off?”
“Is the UN closed?”
“No.” I paused. “I must add that this incessant questioning is unseemly.” Ypres was about to retreat from the room, when I sensed an opportunity to interject.
“Ypres, what would you think about going back to London?”
“Before the end of your internship?”
“I think it would be a surrender of duty.”
I immediately rose. “A surrender of duty!”
“Yes. An ignominious one.” Having made her statement, Ypres left the room like a crab carefully scurrying across the sand. Like a determined, yet grand, seagull I followed in close pursuit.
“Ypres, I am astounded at your comment. As a Briton, and more importantly, a Londoner thorough and through, I am gravely undermined. I would never surrender!”
Ypres stood erect and immobile. “Would this not count as surrender? Leaving New York, and the job you crossed the Atlantic to attain, after a day. Scurrying back to London at the first challenge. Giving in to defeatism.”
“This is an affront!”
“Yet, if you insist. If you are determined to return. If you are willing to face your uncles. I shall make the necessary arrangements…”
Right then and there I was determined to continue. I found the resolute force needed. I was called upon to roar in this time of doubt. Roar I did. A roar of taste, dignity, and defiance.
“I shall not flag or fail, Ypres. I shall go on to the end. I shall fight the crowds. I shall fight on the streets and avenues. I shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the subway. I shall defend my career choice, whatever the cost may be. I shall never surrender. Even if, which I do not for a moment believe, I were subjugated and starving, then my uncles beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the old boys’ club, would carry on the struggle, until, in good time, a new world of employment, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
Reenergized, I devoured my breakfast. I bounces happily towards the door and out into the world. As a grand finale, I turned around towards Ypres with one swift move.
“Your plan to convince me to surrender failed, Ypres. Let it never be said that Vanessa E. Vasa does not rise to the occasion!” And with that, like Caesar of salad fame crossing the Rubicon, I stormed out.
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