She took my hand with one almost as grimy and led me to the forward bay, where they let us mingle with the first-class passengers for the landing.
“What is that?” she pointed. “And that? Tell me!”
“We’re flying over…this water is Long Island Sound. On the left, that’s Queens. It’s part of the city. And on the right, that shore, that’s Connecticut.”
“No, uh, una regione. Rich people live there. And now - see those towers, with the round plates on top? Those were from the World’s Fair, in your father’s grandfather’s time. They’re defense wards now. And that big wall across the water, that’s the City Island Sea Gate.” Was I tearing up a little? No. I’m a tough New Yorker, see?
“Yes, south. Look there. Now we’re flying over Manhattan, that has all the fancy tourist stuff.”
“Is that Central Park?”
“No, that’s Fort Tryon. Central Park is coming…”
The exile returns. Yeah, I was getting a little misty. Past the old Lennox Avenue towers, now overgrown like Babylon with 24-story hanging gardens, low over the green promenade of St. Nicholas, soaring above Morningside Heights – hello, 112thSt! – south past the great, perilous expanse of Central Park, then-
“See it? See?”
“Empire State! Empire State!”
“That’s right. Empire State.”
There it was, the good old Empire State Building, standing tall in its cloud of circling ornithopters and flying carpets, the air around it a perpetually gentle spring day thanks to the New York Thaumaturgical Board’s weather team. The spire’s landing light went green, and we docked.