Wednesday, September 11, 2013
For the Boy
That morning, the television was on, as it often was. My brother was zipping up his son’s jacket, getting him ready for kindergarten. It’s not that there was a loud boom that drew them to the screen. It isn’t like someone said, “Look!” But they did. They watched the smoke fill the sky. They saw the plane smashing into the buildings. The fire lashing out from the windows so many stories above ground. They must have imagined the sound of glass splintering, metal crunching. Voices crying out.
Weeks later, when I was visiting them I watched the boy running around the basement with his arms stretched wide. Zoom, zoom, zoom he called out. Crash! He hissed. And then he ran into the wall.
A year goes by and sometime in the summer, we went to the library to check out stories. The librarian stamped the books and told us when they were due. And the boy looked up to me, said, “Oh, I know that date.” What is it, I asked. And he said, “The saddest day in all the world.”
Five years later and he was writing stories for school. My novel One Tribe had just come out and he said, “Auntie Evelina, I’m writing my own book and it’s bigger than yours.” Really, I asked. How big is it. He thought about it. He squinted. Then he said, “So big it has more pages than people who died on 9/11.”
The image of that morning must have seeped into his skin, crawled right into his memory, become the reference point for all things good and bad. Just all things. Never to forget.