George stared down at the churning water in the wake of ferry as he tried to collect his thoughts. He couldn't understand what had happened in Washington Square Park with the mysterious woman with the butterfly that he had followed, hoping to meet her. He had started to dismiss it as a fantasy, but knew it had to be real. Now it was too late.
He became discouraged to continue searching for his mysterious sorceress and wandered from the park walking south toward the financial district and Freedom Tower. She remained a mystery, but someone he would remember. Maybe if he went back tomorrow, he would find her with her book and her butterfly. He remained astonished that she could make the butterfly land on her book. He wasn't sure how, but he thought somehow she had bewitched him.
Now here he was, the sun was setting, and he crossed the harbor toward Staten Island. He loved the wind in his face and the sound of the ferry slicing through the waves. As he stood at the rear of the ferry he watched city skyline recede, gleaming like a beacon in the approaching night. As The Statue of Liberty loomed on the left, he saw that the lights illuminating the grand lady had just flicked on. Such a great night to be alive and here in this moment, he thought.
As they passed the statue, George turned and walked inside the ferry. He liked to look at all the people riding the ferry. Most were on their way home probably after having some drinks or dinner after work in Manhattan. But some were sight seers, and George found them interesting because of all the nationalities apparently visiting New York.
Suddenly Bernstein's New York, New York..it's a hell of a town... started playing in his head, and George imagined himself to be Gene Kelly out on the town searching for the girl he had seen in a picture on the subway. He imagined his footwork was more lithe as he tapped his way to the front of the boat, taking a flower from an old lady who was selling them to passengers and presenting it to the first girl he saw who was sitting reading a book. She was surprised, but also somewhat embarrassed, but George danced on 'til he was at the front of the boat.
The ferry was slowing, bumping its way into the landing that would receive the passengers. There was a rush of people onto the deck where they watched the ferry crash its way to its mooring. "Welcome to Staten Island" the sign read. People crowded around and angled for the front of the boat to be the first to depart. George felt himself being pushed backward further and further. Things were getting out of hand, George thought.
Then the gates opened and people flooded into the station.
It was at that moment George saw her, his mysterious stranger that he had followed into the park. She was on this ferry! He couldn't believe his good fortune. But she was disappearing into the streaming crowd that appeared almost running into the station.
He tried waving to get her attention, but she was focused on leaving and had no idea he was trying to catch up with her.
"Miss! Miss! Don't leave! Wait for me!" George was almost in tears, but it was much too noisy and chaotic for her to take notice. There were so many people struggling to get away, and he was trapped in the turmoil.
In what seemed an eternity, George broke free and found himself in an immense station with hundreds of people milling about. Many sight seers who had come just for the boat ride were running to the departure side of the station to return on the ferry to Manhattan. George wondered if that might include his mysterious lady. He ran with the crowd and saw the gates open with passengers starting to board the return ferry. Was that her? He ran up to a woman with long black hair walking rapidly onto the boat. It wasn't her! He struggled through the crowd, searching desperately.
He didn't even know her name! After a few minutes the gates were lowered and the ferry pulled out of the ferry slip slowly. George continued to search and went to the front of the boat. Was that her standing there... flowing black hair and such lovely arms. He approached her. She was looking ahead trying to see the very distant NY skyline.
"Miss, were you in Washington Square Park today?"
The woman turned and looked at him as though he were from another planet..
"I'm sorry," he muttered. "I thought.. " he shook his head. "I hoped you were someone else."
He retreated to the back of the boat and then for a miraculous moment he saw his mysterious phantom standing in the Staten Island station watching the ferry depart. He waved at her. She stood there and looked at him, and then smiled. She waved back! It was her! George was ecstatic, but also mortified as he stood and watched the ferry take him further and further away from his mysterious stranger, his muse, his reason for living.