New York, The Queen of England

This literary short-story plays with the idea of multiple memories eliding into one, and how meaning can be made from placing memories in chorus as much as from the memories themselves.


One time, I met the Queen.

I’m a writer now but growing up I was a liar. I once told a room of people that I had spent the weekend in New York. I had been listening to stories about weekends away and long flights and spontaneous trips to London. The best thing was the room believed me.

I did go to New York, but not until after. Before I got there, I decided to see the city as a body, the roads as veins, the people as its cells. Buildings as steel organs pumping out the lifeblood. Business, in the sense of the -ness of the busy, the masquerade of industry, the lie that work is living. I’d written about it. A man in Times Square tried to sell me a home-burnt CD. We only ate at chains we had at home. A squirrel stole my Cheetos in Central Park as a country singer slaughtered Bob Dylan and a sky-writer advertised the Pride Parade in Greenwich Village. Some people saw my boyfriend naked in the hotel window. I might have been in love with my best friend at the time, who I had met the year before. I had been with my boyfriend for five years that April.

Someone I know is going back to New York next month, to see another writer. In stories, New York is always a city of writers. Not moving parts and piles of black bin bags at the side of the road. Going to New York is like stepping forward in time. The buildings look like spaceships, and New York is always where the aliens land. It was also going backwards; in America I was not old enough to drink. I am not an American and I was not, back then, someone who loved urbanity, crowded streets, The City as idea. When I look at the photographs, I can’t see myself in them. People ask how long I was there for. A weekend, I think, but it lasted for years. I’ve told the story so often it has become transparent. My friend will be there for a week next month. I don’t think I’ll ever leave and I’m definitely never going back.

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