For Children

John Morrell

This is New York

2003 7th-8th Grade Prose Winner

If you live in New York you don't have to travel the world. Early in the morning you push the button of your elevator. You wait and get impatient soon, questioning yourself whether you should run down the stairs and be at the bus stop on time, or wait. The moment you decide to run, the elevator finally comes. It brings a crowd, but there is still a space for you. You enter and say hi to Africa, France, Peru, China, India, Vietnam, Bulgaria and Japan. The elevator moves down and stops, at every single floor, and more and more people come in. Finally, there is no space left. But still more people want to come in. It's 8.03 and we are all squeezed into each other. Some have sharp elbows, some have sharp heels.

My only connection to these people is that we live in the same building.

In a moment, as soon as doors open, we will all run in the opposite directions. Some will run North, some will run West, some, like nurses and doctors - will run East, but most will run South. We will all get dispersed in New York.

I walk to my school. I walk by the small food market, and a kind Chinese lady, who always gives me an apple for free, waves hi. I walk by the barbershop and the owner, the tall old Belgian, who works for an hour and a half at each client's head, gives me big smile. I stop at the newsstand and buy a paper from a young Tadjik, who is probably only five years older than me. I am 10 cents short. "Not to worry, - he says. - You will bring it later, tonight... or your brother will, when he walks his dog." I walk by Hungarian delicatessen which has the best kolbaski in Manhattan.

And then I walk by the tailor, who is from Greece and who once saved my life. He came to work early Sunday morning and hemmed my new dress pants by 9.00 a.m. so that I to go play my trumpet for the Mayor of New York City. He is now feeding his birds and they are chirping gaily from the cage.

And then I walk by the fish store. The man who owns it is the only person whom I know who lived here all his life. He once showed me the window of the apartment where he was born - right across the street. But his Dad came from Ukrain and his Mother too... I pass the dry-cleaner, florist and a psychic ...

My only connection to these people is that we live in the same neighborhood.

I go down the subway station at 68th street and Lexington. The train is full. Mayor Blumberg takes this train early morning the same time as me. Once or twice I was in the same car with the Mayor and all the way to the City Hall he was reading the paper. I wanted to ask him a question but there were so many people between me and him. To ask him a question I would have had to ask every single person in the car, not only the Mayor. The doors open at 42nd street and even more people try to squeeze in. We all feel the same: like piccles in the jar.

My only connection to these people is that we live in the same city.

I come to my school, which has kids from 64 countries of the world. Someone calculated that they speak 76 languages at home. Many parents who come to the parent-teacher meetings don't understand what teachers say about their kids. They just hope that they say something good. My school is called Stuyvesant and is located next to the World Trade Center Site. The window in my home room looks at Ground Zero.

My connection to this place, to these kids, to their parents, to what had happened here and what will still happen in the future is called the world. Another name for it is New York.