This is an excerpt from an abandoned novel that I started earlier this year, but couldn’t finish.
Beauty was the way the sun cracked like an egg over New York, bathing the entire Manhattan skyline in rich hues of orange and purple.
Beauty was the gleam of the skyscrapers glinting in the magic hour, solid and shiny across the urban jungle.
Beauty was the color of her mother’s eyes: the most vivid band of emerald that wrapped around her pupil, flecked with thin dashes of gold that glimmered in the evening light as she laughed at her husband’s joke.
Even though she was only seven, Ariel silently understood that beauty wasn’t something to be bought, because setting a price tag would cheapen the whole thing. It was free. It was generous and plentiful, it was constant. It was something to be admired, to be protected fiercely in her memory bank, to be cherished.
Beauty was right now, as she stood on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center, peering through the surprisingly clear glass panel that stood as the only divider between her and the rest of the city. She’d seen thousands of pictures of New York before – in paintings, in the glossy pages of the magazine, on TV, in travel brochures and countless of other places – but nothing measured up to the wonder of seeing it in the flesh. Masses of buildings were spread out so neatly like a superior collection of lego blocks.
Beside her, Malcolm and Olivia had their arms wrapped tightly around each other, both staring out into the endless horizon. The wind blew stray strands of brown hair around Olivia’s face while she laughed at something her husband said. Malcolm kissed her cheek, and noticed their daughter grinning at them.
“What are you looking at, Ari?” he teased.
Ariel blushed, embarrassed to be caught sharing an almost intimate moment. She shrugged her little shoulders and pretended to look away.
A second later, she felt the strong arms of her father wrapping around her skinny body and drawing her into a tight hug, and then she felt the warmth of Olivia’s body pressing against hers from the back.
“Family hug!” Olivia announced. Ariel was sandwiched between her parents. Here, she felt secure, protected.
“There it is. Our hotel is over there,” Malcolm pointed. Olivia followed his gaze and nodded.
“Where? I can’t see it, daddy.” Ariel squinted.
Malcolm drew her a little closer. “It’s right behind the Empire State Building. You can’t see it because it’s being blocked.”
“But you can see it,” she protested. How could he be so sure the hotel was there? Wasn’t it on the other side of the city?
“I didn’t say I could see it,” he smiled. “I just know that it’s there.”
“But how do you know for sure that it’s there if you can’t see it from here?” her little eyebrows furrowed. She really didn’t understand his logic sometimes.
Malcolm paused for a moment. Ariel grinned. Yes, she had him here.
But then a slow smile crept across his features. “Ari, let me ask you a question. Do you love me and mommy?”
She wasn’t expecting such a simple question. She thought he was going to quiz her on the map of New York.
“Of course daddy,” came her instant reply. It was always on her mind, in her heart. She loved them – there was no question about it.
“But I can’t see your love though,” Malcolm pretended to frown.
“But I really love you guys!”
“Are you sure?” Olivia grinned.
They were pulling a fast one on her.
“Ari, we know you love us,” Malcolm continued gently, motioning for her to stare out into the horizon. He gave her shoulder a tender squeeze. “But that’s my point, sweetheart. Just because you can’t see something with your eyes, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Sometimes, your heart knows more than what your eyes can register.”