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It plays out in my head like I saw it in a movie.

I stepped out the door into the sunlight and closed my eyes for a moment. Though its windows faced the rising run, the dorm room had been dark, thanks to thick curtains and my roommate’s comforter, hung with nails from the wall above his window. I shuffled to the right as my eyes adjusted and pushed open the door to the stairwell, welcoming the darkness provided by the concrete cave. I moved through the common and out onto the mall, heading towards the cafeteria for breakfast. It was September in the desert, and odds are good that temperatures reached the nineties that day, but my memory tells me that I shivered slightly under the blinding sun.

The student union was nearly empty save for the two coeds walking before me. Half-past seven is early in university terms. The girls were talking, and as I caught up to them, I couldn’t help myself from eavesdropping.

Girl1: My mom called this morning and said that a plane crashed in New York.
Girl2: Like, in the city?
Girl1: I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not. Probably the state. You know my mom.

I don’t know her mom, but she’s not exactly setting the standard for familial communication.

Reruns of the planes’ impacts were running on the cafeteria TVs. I watched planes one and two strike the towers over and over. I coughed as smoke billowed from the buildings on the screen. The eggs got cold on the buffet as the lonely forks and spoons sat unused near the plates. I saw the presidential address from Florida and the aftermath of the strike on the Pentagon. As the south tower fell, I hoped that Larry King would come on and say, “Hey! Just kidding, everybody. Everything’s fine.” And Larry King and I could laugh at his joke and I would say, “Oh, Larry King, you sick, old, wrinkly bastard. You're a kidder! Here’s a punch in the groin for your psychotic sense of humor.” And I would punch old Larry in his old, wrinkly groin and I would smile and laugh and be on my way to class.

But Larry didn’t come on. Instead, they moved to coverage of the crash in Pennsylvania and speculation about why it went down and what had been its target. The White House? The Pentagon? Congress?

A classmate shook me on the shoulder. She’s been sent to summon me, and others, to class. No, it hadn’t been cancelled. I walked to class surrounded by the sounds and speculation of my classmates, too nervous and scared to stay silent. Our assignment, in the midst of falling ash and fire, was a press release on the animal shelter’s struggle to provide homes for puppies.

Aimee was in the cafeteria when I got back, too overcome by the images to remain composed. She cried on my shoulder as CNN played images of tiny dots falling from the windows before the collapse.

1 Responses to “..||..”

  1. # Anonymous bloggwatchersanonymous

    well done

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