Later, much later, when the shock wore off, people always asked, “Where were you?” That Tuesday, the one morning of the week I didn’t have to rush out to lecture the undergrad minions or schlep glassware for lab, found me in the kitchen with coffee and The Globe, relaxed, happy even. “One of the ten best days of the year,” the weatherman promised me earlier when my willing feet swept me along the Charles River, the dawn cracking into a shocking blue canvas. But the adrenalin rush soon eroded, it always does, and aloneness and self-doubt rippled through my cramped apartment, pricking at me to flip on the dusty ten-inch tube, a relic from the latest in a string of relationship disasters dating back to my birth. Chirpy babble filled the empty space, assuaging my weariness, but then a voice, urgent, erupted past my anesthesia and when I swiveled around, flames coiled around the tower; white billowing smoke obscured the building’s twin, a negative background to black specks flailing from gaping floors, even the ninetieth, his office. As the building telescoped into itself, smudging the faultless sky with its smoldering detritus, I vaguely wondered if my father was in Japan.
Thursday's flawless blue sky reminded me of That Day, which turned out to be a pivotal one for my character Ben. An earlier version of this appeared in Six Sentences on February 3, 2008. Excerpted in part from PURE.
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