History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. — James Joyce
Because I could not stop for death, it crashed into the office. The floor below us folded. Our floor became a furnace. I sprinted to the stairs, but I could only go up, up, up. Carl was burnt bad from the waist down. He wasn’t going to make it, so I didn’t stop for Carl either. Eventually I made it to the top floor of the South Tower. Through the thick smoke I saw a woman breaking a window with an office chair. She saw me, too, and leapt to her death. I’d seen her in the elevator the day before. I think her name was Amber. I don’t remember now. For a second I thought about joining her. It seemed like the last best bet. Gravity is a drunk god, always falling over. How the South Tower fell I do not know and neither did Beatrice who could not stop coughing. She said to follow her, so I did. We took a few steps and then the world gave way. We dropped 110 floors and my life flashed: Jessica was the love of it. Julie was the best sex. Janet was my mother who sang Janis Joplin while she cooked. Ben was my college coach who said I was the wrong color to play basketball. Kevin was my brother who left for the Navy when I was nine. He said he would miss me. He said he would write, but then something went wrong. My thoughts? Electrical storms. I thought: I don’t know. I thought my brain was on fire. I thought about an oblivion that did not come. My mind thought thoughts. My body still moved. I was alive, but part of me wanted to be dead. I was filled with so much hatred for my world before. I’d never wanted to be a part of the shirt-and-tie set that filed in and out of this building single file. I wanted more. Then another tower fell over and I ran and ran and ran until I stood in a crowd of others baptized in ash. So this was it? It was the last day I was I, and please, understand this: I’d always dreamt of being somebody else. I dreamt of acting. I dreamt of drinks and blonde leading ladies. I dreamt I wasn’t acting all along. Meanwhile, everyone was trying to piece together what the hell had just happened. I went to Broadway. The theaters were closed. I snuck backstage at a place putting on Godot. I shook off the ash and asked: Where are all these corpses from? Xerox copies floated in the air for hours.