Hello, Blogosphere, and good morning.
Here’s a piece submitted to Inspiration Monday. May we never forget.
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Mel dealt the cards out slowly, his wrinkled hands quivering almost as much as his vision. He passed cards around the table, to one, two, three, four, five companions. He looked up, taking in their crinkled skin and sagging expressions.
Mel sighed and picked up his own hand. Nothing special.
Winnie looked at him from across the table. She raised her eyebrows. Mel kept his expression cool and collected, darting his eyes away for only a half second.
Al reached out and slapped down a card.
Mel leaned back; he had ample time before the rotation reached him. He looked around the community room of the seniors’ apartment complex, at the ladies gossiping over their books and knitting in the corner, the sullen group consoling a comparatively young woman with tears down her face and tissues littering the table before her, the pair of men watching football replays on a shiny new television and the grandmother playing with her grandchildren from a wheelchair. He stared out the window at the morning light, the too-bright sun glaring through at him.
Al nudged him and he refocused, deciding quickly on a card to toss out.
A pained shout sounded from the hallway, just out of sight.
Mel and a pair of other, more able-bodied retirees rushed for the hallway, moving far too slowly for their own liking. Old Virginia lay prone on the floor, a walker lying next to her.
Mel seized her by the armpits and pulled her to her feet, keeping a tight hold for support.
“Turn to channel seven.”
“What?” said one of the other men.
“Channel seven. It’s–” She choked, tears running down her face.
“All right,” Mel said. He nodded to the men, putting Virginia delicately back onto her walker. He caught up, catching a glimpse of the television just as the channel turned.
The Twin Towers greeted him. In fact, just one, as a result of camera angles. Smoke billowed from its side.
“My God,” people muttered to themselves.
“What the hell,” Al whispered.
The murmurs quieted as the men and women stared blankly at the television for a moment or two, trying to make sense of the image.
Winnie was the first to wail.
The room broke out into screams and long sobs and profanities. Mel staggered back, easing himself into a chair.
More elderlies came shuffling from adjoining rooms, startled by the noise. They stopped at the door, leaning on canes and doorframes for support as they clutched at their hearts.
One woman fainted onto her crocheting.
“I can’t hear them,” a voice cut out over the screams.
“Turn the volume higher,” added another.
One of the men who had been interrupted from his football reached forward, jiggling a button on the television.
“It would appear that a plane-”
The wails grew louder, drowning out the panicked voice of the newscaster.
Mel shook himself, blinking once, then again.
The group cried and screamed and panicked for what seemed like hours, till finally their hysterics subsided. A man wheeled an oxygen tank up next to him as he shuffled to the front of the room, holding up his other hand for quiet.
One by one, the room’s occupants noticed and fell silent.
“Has anyone made out what’s going on?”
Shouts rang out.
“Then let’s listen,” said the man.
The newscaster’s voice had been replaced by another, calmer one. “The impact would appear at this point to be an accident, but it is unclear whether–”
A second plane came shooting out of the side of the viewframe.
It hit the second tower.
As the fireball billowed out, so rose the panic in the room and onscreen as even more voices sounded off.
Mel shuffled over to Winnie. “Are you all right?”
“My grandson is in there.”
Mel started. Winnie’s face was blank. “Little Donny’s in there.”
“A school trip. He said last night on the telephone they were going to visit in the morning. Said he wanted to see it from the top.” Her voice shook, but others fell silent, realizing what was going on. “He said the schoolteachers weren’t planning, but that he wanted to sneak away and go, just for a minute. I’ve seen the view. I told him not to miss it.”
The room fell silent.
“I told him to go.”
Winnie’s voice broke and she sobbed, reaching out and punching the table with strength far before her years.
Mel just stood.
Onscreen, screams cut in from New York as a tower collapsed.
And Mel could do nothing.
* * * * *
May you remain existential,