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Nine Eleven

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I still remember exactly what he looked like. It made me cry to see Rich like that. His face was hard, and his mouth was a thin line. He stood in front of the television, every muscle in his body tense. On the screen, smoke rose from the two buildings. I quietly called my friend from down the street, and she agreed to pick me up for school. When I got home that night, Rich wasn’t in the living room. But as I went upstairs, I could hear the TV in his room. I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling. I knew how attached he was to Sarah. I hadn’t even met her.
I remember talking to her on the phone. She seemed nice enough. I used to think that she just felt sorry for me because I was a foster child. But after I saw how many over-the-phone conversations they had a day, I lightened up a bit. But now I might never see her face for real.
The next day when I came home from school, Rich was still in his room. An hour or so went by. The phone rang. It didn’t get the chance to ring twice. For the first time in 48 hours I heard my foster father’s voice, coming from upstairs. A short hello, then silence. Then BAM! As if someone had kicked the wall. I could hear him pacing back and forth feverishly. He was breathing hard. His muffled voice floated through the wall. After a few minutes, the conversation ended. He didn’t stop pacing. Finally, at about ten at night, I heard the bed springs creek. Though I doubted he would be able to sleep.
The next morning, he was downstairs, reading the paper.
“Morning.” His voice was scratchy.
I hesitated. “Are you okay?”
“It’s not me that’s in trouble.”
“Oh.”
He turned his face away from me, to the clock on the kitchen wall. I could see the edge of his face was red. I decided to brake the ice, rather than experience a long, awkward conversation.
“Is she okay?”
“She lost a lot of blood, and she won’t be able to…” his voice cracked. “…to walk again.”
He turned toward me. I could tell he hadn’t gotten much sleep.
“She probably won’t live long.”
We drove to school in silence. Two days later, we got another call from the hospital. This time, we were both downstairs together. I knew what had happened right away.
It was the first time I’d seen him cry.




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