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  • Of all the moments of that day, it is the one that keeps coming back.

    We were living in the basement, Karen and Angie and their two sons were upstairs. They were pleasant landlords, we were good tenants. We maintained the kind of polite distance that makes everything easier.

    I had made it back home. Back home from Bergen St. Back home from Kiera’s. Kiera, taken from us this year for no reason. Never coming back.

    But that day she was still here. Seeing perfect sky from her bed, I had kissed her and bounced down her stairs. I was unemployed and the sky was a message: Walk across Brooklyn young man. Buy a bagel.

    Buy a bagel. Walk through Park Slope. Hear the news start to spread: Plane. World Trade.

    See the candidate in front of the school, pressing palms before a cancelled election. Detour down to 4th Avenue. Witness apocalypse coming into view. Witness disbelief and fear in stranger’s faces. Go to Adam’s. Look at TV. Go to his roof. Look at reality. Make phone calls. Get Bill. Hear him say “call your family” and click off.

    Watch the tallest, most permanent thing you have known vanish into dust. Worry about your sister, huddled in a Wall St. basement. Worry about yourself. Watch the dust cloud drift and grow. Convince your friends to abandon their apartment and follow you to deeper Brooklyn.

    Take photos in Prospect Park to document the insane moment. Wonder why. See debris already floating through the air, sparkling silvery, reflecting light, possibly fatal.

    And now be home. Back home. Alone.

    Friends had come and left, fears of ever worsening chaos dissipated. I heard movement upstairs so I opened the never opened door and called out. Karen was there, upstairs. There were strangers too, making phone calls, collected by Karen at the Brooklyn bridge. Strangers from Texas and Georgia, lucky unlucky souls with meetings scheduled in buildings that no longer existed.

    I climbed the stairs, I talked to Karen, she told her tale. How her daily routine was broken as she drove out of the tunnel, how she detoured, seeking home, collecting refugees.

    I lifted my arm, put it around her shoulder, and she collapsed into me, there on the couch, in the simplest way. And this is the moment I remember, this connection, however fleeting and fast. It ended and I offered to make eggs. She declined. Our politeness snapped back into place.

    I made the eggs for myself, ate them in the backyard and walked up to the street. The street where later documents would come to rest. Lonely survivors, wind-borne, miles from their missing homes.
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