Amber, Angela, and I - Payton Breck
Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Amber was not her real name, though I often referred to her as Amber. It was her persona. Amber ran the streets of New York City every day looking for work. She told me that when we first met. We met on the west side. She was walking swiftly. I was walking leisurely. I walked out of Central Park up the sidewalk a little way and past The Ramble and then left onto West 79th Street. It was cold. I admired the cold. I looked to the buildings whose bricks tarnished with age and the few trees that were dying. The grass too was dead. November was strange like that.
She came down the street towards me. I was not looking at first. What prompted my notice was our colliding. Neither of us was looking before. The coffee I was holding spilled on my peacoat. She looked apologetic. She backed up a bit and took her gloves off then placed her bare fingers to the stain now on my coat. “Oh dear I am sorry,” she said. I might have been upset, but she was rather too beautiful to hold a grudge. I was entranced. Her hair was short and blonde and her face was pretty and symmetrical and her eyes were very blue. During my time in the city, I do not believe that any other women had been noticeable. “Don’t be,” I said. “It’s not your fault.” “Let me buy you another,” she said, “I insist.”
We walked down back towards the park. The good coffee shops were closer to midtown. We got to the café named Gregory’s and the scent of expensive coffee beans came to us. A table at the window overlooking the loud street was open and we took a seat after ordering. Gymnopédie no. 1 was playing. I got a caramel latte and she a cappuccino. We watched the yellow taxis drive through the traffic and talked and laughed about each other. She told me that she was an actress and did not get much work. She was rather young, only twenty-four, and just out of school. I was four years older and a taxi driver, though I spent my other time writing. Her name she told me was Amber and her real name was Angela. I told her mine was Wesley. I got the bill and we left Gregory’s.
It was colder then and the car horns were loud in the cold air. The wind’s breath blew Amber’s hair in her face. It was now afternoon because we talked a good while. We walked back up to the park passing the horse carriages and the vendors and then walked back to 79th street where I lived. I invited her inside and she smiled. “Oh I do admire your directness,” she said. I smiled back and reached for her hand. We walked up the steps of my brownstone. My apartment was rather small though that was expected for a taxi driver. She understood. She too lived in a studio also on the West Side. We did what was expected with two young people in an apartment. Amber left after some time. Then she kept coming back. For several months we were each others. She always looked a great deal happy and I was in love. I was very happy. It was rare that I felt happy.
So it went that one night we went out. We walked to The Met where a ball was taking place and the cold of the air made me hold Amber’s shoulders. Amber was the most beautiful I had seen her. She wore a long and navy dress which very well complemented her light hair and matching makeup. I looked not beautiful like her. It was cold and I was happy. She was also happy I thought.
When we got to the met and I gave her my hand. Her hand was shaking. “Are you nervous,” I asked. “No,” she said, “well maybe a little.” We walked into the museum. The music was loud and was classical and slow and the lights were lit just enough to see the crowds of people dancing in the middle of the floor. A bar was in the corner and I made my way to it. I got drinks for myself and Amber. After a time she was quite tipsy, and I was rather sober. I do not like to drink often. Alcoholism ran in my family. That did not stop Amber from drinking. We danced and talked and sang and admired each other. I was more in love with her than ever.
We were the last two in the room. I arranged with the guard to keep the open room. Midnight had just begun. Amber was messy and pretty. Her hair was tangled and her eyes were bluer than the day sky. It was time. I prepared this moment for a week. I was nervous but her persona calmed me. She talked about some audition. Her speech was slurred. “Oh Wesley come be famous with me,” she said. “We have time,” I said. She put her arms around me. “Please, we can do it,” she said, “the world is ours Wesley.” “Angela I know. We have time. We won’t be late.” She had not been listening. Rather she spun around the empty room and I stood.
We left and walked out of The Met. The air was very cold but I was content. We stopped outside the entrance. I took her hands and she stood still. She was laughing. I was smiling because of Amber. I got down on one knee. I asked to marry Amber. She stopped laughing. “Don’t speak like that Wesley,” she said. “Angela please.” “You said we had time Wesley.”
Amber left that night. I stood outside the entrance. She did not take the ring and dropped my hand. I tried to find a reason. There was no reason. Amber walked down the steps and I heard her shoes and she walked to the road got in a taxi and drove away. She was the love of my life.
Thirty years later I sat in the same brownstone. Much changed when Amber left. Some time I learned to be happy. I had various women. None compared to Amber. I never married. I wrote in my small study. I drafted a novel of Amber. I wrote about her acting jobs and her love of cappuccinos and Satie and her long navy dress that appeared well with her short blonde hair and made her blue eyes appear lighter. I did not know how to end the story. I was not one for tragedies. I wrote that Amber said yes.
Amber’s story was published a month after I finished. It sold a great deal of copies and Amber’s story was well known across New York. I now lived in a larger brownstone. It had multiple rooms and multiple floors. The walls were white though one room was navy and had gold accents. My doorbell rang as I drank my coffee. It was January. I stood up and walked to the door. My clothes were quite casual and it was cold and morning. I opened the door. Amber stood in a long coat in the entrance. Her face was wrinkled. In her hand a copy of my book. She was captivating. Maybe Amber and I had time.
Payton Breck is a writer and poet from the Philadelphia area. She loves writing about the hardships of love and the psychology of young women like herself. In her free time, Payton loves attempting to bake macaroons and re-reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin.