Today is a day of grief and remembrance… of patriotism and love… Today we commemorate 15 years since the horrific and tragic events of 9/11… It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, the memories still so fresh within our minds… the scars, healed but very present still in my beloved Manhattan… the field in Pennsylvania resting amidst fog and a glooming peace…
We all deal with grief in our own ways… whether we experienced the events directly, or through our viewing of the tragedy, we have all had to come to terms with what happened and with the new world we live in.
I’d like to share a piece that I wrote… It is an excerpt from one of my books and deals very pointedly with the events as experienced by the character speaking.
**This piece is graphic in its descriptions of the experience of the events of 9/11… Please be advised of this before you read it!
A little background… this excerpt takes place during an inquest, and includes a Lady Justice (it’s set in the UK), as well as a barrister and the character being questioned**
The Lady Justice held up her hand. “Silence, Mister Warwick. Please continue, Miss Gardener.”
Kate took a deep breath. “I remember… Everything… Because it’s impossible for me not to. I have an eidetic memory. Once I have seen something, experienced it I never forget it. I don’t have to think about it to recall it. It’s just there.”
Warwick was incredulous, dramatically so, as he motioned to the papers in his hand. “You expect us to believe your version of what happened because you claim to have a clinical condition that is not, in fact, proven to exist?”
Kate smirked. “I wouldn’t expect you to believe me, but you’re welcome to test me if you want.” This was dangerous, and as soon as the words came out of Kate’s mouth a little twinge of regret seeped in. She’d opened the door… Now she’d have to deal with the consequences.
“Before you were employed by the Forensic Science Service, you worked as a crime scene photographer for the New York Police Department, correct?”
“For… Ten years?”
“Tell us about your first case.”
Fuck. Kate hoped that they hadn’t seen her wince, because she felt like she had obviously winced. Glancing around, she noticed everyone looking at her, waiting expectantly for her to respond. And she had to.
Kate swallowed hard, took a deep breath, moistened her lips… and began…
“When I got to the scene, the dust cloud was beginning to dissipate. A light breeze had come up and was blowing the cloud off the island. Everything was covered with dust… the cars, the people, the signs, the windows. Alarms were going off everywhere.
“I got close to the site… stuff was crunching under my boots. When I looked I saw glass and concrete pieces and shards of bone. The flesh had been burned away by the impact and the super-heated air. It was like Pompeii, or something.
“Then I heard a pop, a loud pop, and something wet hit me, hit my face. I reached up and wiped it off. It was blood and … brain matter. And I turned and saw what was left of the man who had hit the ground a few feet away from me. The there was another, a few feet beyond. Then there was a third behind me. People started yelling and screaming… And then there was this incredible grinding sound… crushing, rushing, like a massive roll of thunder. Then we were running from the dust, and the smoke and the heat, and the smell, and the cremated remains of the people left in that building.
“Nobody knew what was happening. Then later, when we knew…”
Kate trailed off and blinked away the tears moistening her eyes. She could see the expression on the faces of the Lady Justice… Warwick… Pierce… Parris… Wait a minute, when did he come in? What is he doing here? She shivered slightly, trying to pry herself from his intense gaze so she could finish this with the final blow.
Kate glanced at the Lady Justice briefly before continuing. “I don’t excuse what Neville did. It was wrong, vicious… but I understand why he did it. When horrific violence is done to you, to those you love, to your country, your idealistic sense of mercy goes out the window. You only want justice, vengeance… On whatever terms you can get it.”
The room was silent, though Kate thought a couple of women on the jury might be crying. She didn’t dare look. Tears were like yawns and vomiting… Once you heard them, saw them, you could pretty much guarantee that you would go from observer to participant in seconds. And Kate didn’t want to cry… Not anymore. She sighed, focusing on her hands in her lap, twisting and turning her fingers restlessly.
“Are we done here?”
-De Profundis, Gabriella Messina