Published in July 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Simon van Booy was born in London and grew up in Wales and Oxford. After playing football in Kentucky, he lived in Paris and Athens. He won the 2009 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for Love Begins in Winter. “Save as Many as You Ruin” is taken from his collection The Secret Lives of People in Love, out now from Beautiful Books. “On my way home from work,” he told Prospect, “I passed a café and saw a woman sitting alone who looked like someone from my past. I continued on and when it began to snow, I was suddenly taken with feelings I thought I had resolved long ago. When I got home I went straight to my desk and wrote most of the story in a four-hour sitting. The main character, Gerard, is named after my parents’ dentist on Harley Street, though I haven’t met him in person. And the high heels that Gerard’s lover never takes off I imagined as a pair by Christian Louboutin with the red soles.”
Van Booy’s essays have appeared in newspapers including the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times. He lives in New York City, where he lectures at the School of Visual Arts, and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities programme (REaCH) for young adults living in under-served communities.
By the time Gerard leaves the office it has stopped snowing. Lights are coming on, but it’s not yet dark. At the end of each block the sidewalk disappears under a pool of grey ice water.
Gerard thinks of everyone’s footprints in the snow. Manhattan was once a forest. He imagines the footprints of an Indian slipping home, on his shoulders a warm carcass with clumps of snow stuck to its fur.
Gerard thinks of his own footprints and how soon they will disap-pear. He exhales into the world and his breath disappears. He recalls Rilke, what is ours floats into the air, like steam from a dish of hot food. He wonders if his life is an extraordinary one.
Gerard remembers the freezing cross-country races at his English prep school. Bare white legs spotted with mud. Plum-sized hearts thumping.