From "Generation," an O. Henry Recommended Story
And he was filled with strange satisfaction at the precision with which language allowed a certain visual imagery that had just occurred to him: Ephemeral, he thought. Diaphanous. Gossamer. He imagined the faulty connection that had tethered the span of the street floating up and up as he was drawn again to the paper at his feet. His girls had rendered him "Dad!" but as they stood silent and staring purposefully down the street, he took up his tea cup and his paper with a premature assumption that they had already re-entered the fold.
He was thinking he should bring the binoculars to the air show that afternoon. Beginning his turn back toward the flat, he thought, Where was that article about the air show in the British countryside? when at the end of the long block, there appeared a green truck.
And he considered "lorry." Why hadn't "lorry" arrived safely and unchanged across the Atlantic? Why "truck" and not "lorry"? And what about the association - lorry, truck, lorry, boot, trunk - stopped. Because, in what felt to him like a stagnant minute under water was actually instantaneous, his girls stepped into the path of a green truck. He went to move, but the truck rushed forward and he stood balancing the tea cup.
He faced the street, stepped forward. Brakes screeched, horns howled, and his wife blurred past him. He set down the cup on the wide banister. She was out in the street and he followed, his children nowhere to be seen.
"Generation" was originally published under the name Kimberly Chisholm.
("Generation" by Kimerly Ford first appeared in The Threepenny Review. Copyright © 2007 by Kimberly Ford. Excerpted by permission of the author.)