Phone Numbers of Strangers

by

09/11/2011

Neighborhood: Uncategorized

The phone rang behind a closed door and a door slammed open, frantic shuffling and the t.v. went on. “You guys get in here!” one of the girls yelled. We left our beds so fast we were still half asleep, wiping our eyes as we watched a black dot on the t.v. screen crash into the second tower. Stunned silence as we tried to make sense of it: accident or attack? I called my mother. People called us. Fighter jets buzzed above our apartment.

My roommate wrote down phone numbers of strangers’ spouses, families, friends. They wanted to get through to them, but cellular networks were quickly shutting down in NY. They were walking dusty through the streets, searching for a way home while we called their loved ones to tell them: “You don’t know me, but your wife is OK. She can’t get word to you, but asked me to let you know.” We would never meet those people and, perhaps, they always wonder about the anonymous voices on the phone that day.

When we couldn’t stand any more and cell phone service ceased, we sat outside in the impossible sunlight and mourned for those we knew who died, the calls of reassurance their families wouldn’t receive, the faces we would never find.

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