The Fence

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Sometimes in your life, you can feel fate working through you. You can never expect what’s going to happen tomorrow or who you will meet. As luck would have it, twenty years ago, I was at the right place at right moment.
I was sitting on a desk in a prestigious collage in New York. The air was thick of desperation while my classmates waited for the bell. Mr. Rosling, my English teacher, was talking about 9/11. Like I haven’t heard it a million times; all day today, everyone was talking about the tragedy of 9/11 and I understand that it was depressing but there was no need to tell the story over and over again. Jonathan felt the need to throw paper airplanes around the room when the teacher turned around. Personally, I thought it was hilarious. When the bell rang, everyone rushed out the door as if the room was on fire.
“Hey Josie” I turned around and saw Elijah, my best friend, running toward me like a cheetah.
“Wanna come and get some pizza? Jonathan will be there with his basketball buddies” She wiggled her eyebrows at me. Rolling my eyes and shaking my head, I told her I couldn’t. “I have to babysit my grandmother today” She laughed and joined the rest of our friends.
I walked out of the school building with two very heavy books. Sunshine kissed my faced and the wind flew silently through my hair. New York, unsurprisingly, was busy with people going to their destination. With mine in mind, I walked through the sidewalk headed home. Deciding to take a different course today, I turned towards the rebuilding of the twin towers. Something made me stop in my tracks when I got in front of the construction site. It was not the signs saying about the tragedy or the tour busses full of people pointing toward it but a small girl about eight years old clutching a small picture of a boy in her hand.
I watched as she touched the fence surrounding the site and tears come out in little droplets. Slowly I walked over to her and asked what’s wrong. She said nothing but gave me a hug instead. Her tears were soiling my shirt but I didn’t mind. “Why” she kept whispering. That one word caused my heart to break and tears started forming in my own eyes. “I don’t know” I whispered back. As I lifted my head to look at the scene around us, I noticed people kept giving us weird looks but didn’t bother to say anything. She gave me the picture and right on the top right corner was the handwritten words “Brother Danny” I looked the site before me. How much two planes could have caused so much destruction and left a permanent mark on America forever. It could never be fixed but it is a wound that would heal overtime. I stared at the girl before me. Her innocence was taken away from her the moment the towers came crashing down.
After a few minutes, a cart rolled over to us with small American flags. I pulled a dollar out of my pocket and paid for it. Gingerly, the little girl took the flag and the picture. What happened next surprised me for she stuck the flag and the picture on the fence and left it there. A lady a little taller than her came by with two hot dogs on her hands. “Katie” she exclaimed “I have been searching everywhere for you!” And with that note, Katie raised her little palms and gave me a two fingered solute which I returned.
As the year passed more people started putting up their own pictures and flags on the fence. Some even left rosaries and other prayers. By the time I finished collage the fence was completely filled. I noticed that in the rain and snow, people brought umbrellas over to protect the memories of the people. Now twenty years later, I’m an adult with three children, a very successful lawyer, and I live in Washington D.C. I tell my kids the 9/11 story as well as my own story about the crying girl. I never saw her again and even if I did I wouldn’t have recognize her because by now her looks matured. From time to time, I still visit New York and remember how, on that day, America cried.





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