I found myself looking at the ceiling of the apartment. Sweat was dewed on my forehead and cheeks. My breathing was heavy, panting. The alarm at my bedside beeped in my ear. I turned it off, the clock indicating it was eight, forty in the morning. The air was stiff and the room was eerie. Something about today seemed unsettling but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I got out of bed, wrapped myself in my blankets, forgetting the dreams and feelings.
I went to the living room to see the sun riding up alongside the buildings of New York. Then I saw Edward out on the balcony, his elbows resting on the railing. I hesitated before going up to him. We had become awkward again. We were talking but it was not very comfortable. The morning breeze met my skin that was not covered my blanket. I rubbed the fabric over my nose, trying to warm it. Edward was staring out at the empire state building. I copied his position, listening to the cars, footsteps, voices and much more sound effects of New York.
“Morning” He said without taking his eyes off the buildings. He seemed off today as well. His voice was usually more cheery and inviting. Today it sounded like it had no emotion.
“Good Morning” I returned the greeting, trying to conceal my concern.
We stood for awhile. Edward had work in a few hours and I was heading over to spend time with Alice and Emmett today. I hadn’t seen Alice since last week when I first moved in. Edward had always been perfectly polite but I could see the hurt in his eyes for I was rejecting his admiration for me. I sighed as Edward place in hand facing up on the railing. I knew what he wanted and that was all I allowed. I put my hand on his, even if his mood was, his hand still was not. His fingers squeezed mine which was different because he usually didn’t do that, he was soft. I squeezed back, hoping he was feeling better. He kept staring at the empire state building intensely.
“Bella, what time is it?” He asked, ever so gently
“Um…” I pulled out my wrist from the blanket. “Eight forty-six.”
He winced harshly which scared me. Without thinking I put my other hand on top of his, the sheet falling off me. “Edward…?” My voice was shaky as his green eyes stared even more intensely at the building. “I-I think we should go inside” I tugged on his hand, thinking he would resist but instead he let me pull him in.
I slipped my fingers from his to go get coffee. We coordinated very well, we were always aware the other existed. Each morning one of us would make coffee for both of us. The other would make breakfast for us. We’d always watch the morning news together to wake ourselves up. The same was at night: Dinner, Coffee, TV, and Bed. I found it a tad odd but then again, it felt so comfortable…so normal. I felt like that trait had left my persona a long time ago, I guess not.
I poured two mugs of coffee and carried them carefully to the living room. Edward had disappeared. I set the cups down and turned on the news. As I plopped on the sofa, Edward came from out of the bathroom with a cup of water and one small white pill in his hand: My prescription from Carlisle. His eyes traveled to the mug.
“Thanks” We both said to each other. I smirked slightly, he remained unchanged. He put the pill on the coffee table along with the water. I handed him his coffee and murmured a “Thanks” again.
Edward leaned back into the couch, his eyes more dead than they were before as he turned on the news.
“-believe it was six years ago?” the new woman said to her colleague.
“No I can’t, it’s still really surprising and shocking.” A video of a plane crashing into the North tower of the World Trade Center went on screen…
Its September eleventh… My heart dropped. That’s why it was so eerie and uncomfortable in the city today. Edward must be taking it very harshly.
“STOP! LET ME GO!”
I winced at the screaming voice but it was only my head…
“I’m going to work” Edward said coldly, pulling me back to Earth.
I looked over at him as he put his coat over his shoulders. I looked at my watch. It was only five minutes after nine. “B-but Edward, isn’t it a bit early-”
“No, They’d appreciate me coming in early to help with inventory” He said, looking at me with his harsh expression. I flinched. He walked down the hall, I followed hastily after him
“Oh… okay, Well I’ll see you later but Edward-” My words were cut off for her already closed the door.
I sighed. What had I done wrong? Why was he so upset? I wish there was something I could do to make him warm again…
* * *
Once all the hugs and squeals were over, me and Alice decided to walk over to ground zero to pay respects. Emmett would meet us there. I purposely wore black today in respect for the people who died. Alice put on her long dark coat along with a black headband. Her eyes were solemn. We left her apartment and I offered to drive.
Someone cut me off and Alice did the yelling for me. I sighed.
“Help yourself. I know” I grimly interrupted her.
She sat back in her seat, her arms crossed over her chest. New York was even more congested today than it usually was… if that was possible.
Alice and I had stopped at a flower shop and picked up two roses. She had the pink one in her hand. She caressed the petals; I could only imagine what it feels like: soft, smooth, thin, fragile.
I kept my eyes on the road, weaving in and out of traffic. I noticed a lot of the citizens of New York were wearing black today. I even saw a couple people shedding a few tears. This was a difficult day for the city.
There was a huge line of traffic at ground zero, it was understandable. I parked on the curb about a few blocks away from the huge line of people. And just as I got out of the car, I felt a drop of water on my head. Alice came out of the car on the other side, big black umbrella in hand. I grabbed the two roses for us. They seemed to stand out like the moon in the night sky. Alice and I traded so I could hold the umbrella over us.
I tried not to look at people’s faces. I could see some were in tears and others were like Edward’s: Dead. We waited in a huge line. I looked into the chain-linked fence to see the resting place of so many lives. Alice leaned against the fence and sighed. She too was saddened by this day.
After fifteen minutes of slow movement, we were caught up in the flow heading into the memorial. I saw Emmett waving his hand from inside; of course he had a nervous smile on even today.
After another ten minutes, we made it to him and he gave me a soft hug as well as Alice. A huge fountain sat before the ditch. Thousands of different types and colors of flowers were floating in it. I noticed Emmett had a black rose with him. It seemed to have a grave feeling to it but that didn’t hide its beauty. Alice handed me the yellow rose and I hovered my nose over the petal. The sweet smell enveloped my nose and I said a quiet prayer. I may not have been that religious but it was respecting these people.
Emmet, Alice, and I looked at each other but looking down at the fountain. There were so many flowers we couldn’t see our reflections.
“One…two…” Alice murmured, closing her eyes clutching the rose before holding it above the water.
“…three” I breathed and as soon as I knew it, the yellow beauty slipped from my fingers and into the pond. I sighed, trying not to produce tears myself. I had lost no one yet it felt like a part of me was ripped from myself.
I looked over and saw Alice had her head down. I slid an arm around her shoulders and guided her out. It was too much. We headed out passing people with tears in their eyes and heads down. We all couldn’t take it as Alice and I ran to catch up with Emmett’s fast retreating body.
Once out Emmett took a deep breath and looked between us. I rubbed my hand against Alice’s arm. Her head slid onto my shoulder.
“Want to head back to your place?” I asked of Emmett.
“Sure” He shrugged. “Meet you there”
I nodded and we parted ways.
* * *
Once at Alice and Emmett’s apartment that afternoon, we all did what we wanted: took a nap. Alice and I were scrambled on her bed with her playlist of our favorite songs on. She held my hand. She wasn’t as strong as I was to handle this. Alice could not conceal her pain like I could, she was not afraid to show it to the world.
As I slept I felt images tugging in and out of my mind. Memories were trying to be remembered however it was unsuccessful. Surely these were memories I had locked away in the depts of my mind years ago. Voices also rolled around in my head; yelling, screaming, crying. Sirens sounded.
I heard an earsplitting cry. I’d never heard anything in my life as painful and agonizing as that cry of despair.
“Please!” I heard myself scream. “He needs someone!”
“Their words mostly noises
Ghosts with just voices
Your words in my memory
Are like music to me”
Snow Patrol was singing me awake as I found my eyes were open. My hand went to my face and found water. I’d cried in my sleep. I scraped my fingers across my cheek, scoping tears off my face. Alice was still asleep, her hair messier than usual, her hands had been gripping a pillow. Very carefully, I smooth out her hands on the pillow, hopefully soothing her nightmares.
The clock on her dresser read it was five o’clock. We’d slept three hours. My feet found the floor and I stretched my arms in front of me hearing my knuckles cracking as well as my back.
Quietly, I stepped out of the room and into the front room. Emmett was on the sofa clicking through TV channels. He looked up and smiled at me; a normal Emmett smile. The nap must have helped. “Hey, Swan” He said.
“Hi” I sat next to him, bringing my knees to my chest. 9/11 stuff was still on TV. It was hard to watch even all the boring speeches given by the Mayor and Governor on the new World Trade Center. Emmett picked up a bowl of popcorn and started munching on it. Maybe I should be getting home…Edward’s probably there…He shouldn’t be alone, he seemed so upset… I contemplated, seeing his face in my mind from this morning.
Emmett shoved the bowl at me. “Opcrn?” He said with a full mouth. I took a handful and ate each separately. The salty and buttery flavors saturated my tongue as commercial came on.
“Is my sister still snoozing?” Emmett asked, swallowing another handful of the snacks.
“Are you okay?” He asked, concerned. I looked over at Emmett’s blue eyes. They were excited as always yet I saw his cautiousness.
“I’m not sure.” I sighed
“Edward acting weird today?” Emmett asked as if it was obvious.
“How did you know?” I asked, curious. Maybe I was finally getting answers.
He hesitated. “…this isn’t the best day for him…His parents died in 9/11” He murmured, his eyes sorrow.
My throat tightened. He lost his parents… I stared at the carpet in shock. How could I not realize this before? How come it didn’t come to mind? “Both of them?” My voice cracked.
“Yep” He put the bowl down. “They were in direct path of when the first plane hit the south tower. They didn’t make it” Emmett said, his voice in pain as well as his face. “He remembers everything…the time…the place…the very room he used to go to so he could wait for his mom; the room that got hit: Everything” Time…
“Bella, what time is it?” He asked, ever so gently
“Um…” I pulled out my wrist from the blanket. “Eight forty-six.”
He winced harshly
Edward was staring out at the empire state building
He was staring at the direction of the World Trade Center…
I couldn’t see what was in front of me. Suddenly, I felt all my memories come rushing back like wild rapids. I didn’t feel my head hit the ground as I passed out.
* * *
I banged my pencil against my desk as I thought about the question for a moment. This was just a normal day for a sophomore; Algebra II had to be my first academic of the day. As long as I got it over with I guess it was fine but still, not my choice of a morning subject. What about English? I can do that in the morning…
“Alright, guys, we have about five more minutes so you can pack it up” the teacher said and started explaining the homework. I listened and packed at the same time. Once I was done scrambling, I rested my hand on my cheek, staring out the window. The twin towers shined against the sunlight. That’s the first thing I always see in the morning, so beautiful…
I checked my watch, eight-forty five. I sighed. Four minutes left. Come on… I groaned internally and dropped my bag to the floor. I took out a page from my notebook and began doodling. Everybody was talking away. Alice was in her Spanish class across the hall. I wish I could talk to her…She could make time fly…
A kid behind me asked what the homework was. I turned around explained. He had blue eyes, tan skin, and blonde hair was in spikes; Mike Newton I think his name was. He seemed very excitable; almost like a dog if you look at it that way…
“Thanks Bella” He grinned at me showing me his perfect teeth. He was quiet the show off.
BOOM! I nearly jumped from my seat. A huge crash sounded from the window I was just looking out of. All heads turned to see the most unbelievable thing we’d ever seen. A huge hole was dented in one of the twin towers. Smoke same out of it.
The room was dead silent. Nobody said anything or was moving. All they did was watch. My heart thumped loudly and strong in my chest. What just happened? My hands shook, my pencil dropping to the ground. Once that sound of wood hitting the tile, everyone seemed to unfreeze. Sirens sounded outside.
Whispered filled the dense air. I looked my teacher and she looked completely still, he face was pale as a bone. I noticed her hands were shaking as well. Water was forming around her eyelids. Without warning or sound, she left from the room, leaving us unattended.
Chaos erupted in New York that day. School was called out and everyone was either picked up or walked home. I did neither. My heavy pants filled my mind. People ran past me in the other direction with panicked expressions. My mom’s building was right next to the towers. A second plane had crashed into the North tower. Terrified, I turned from Alice’s mom and had begun running. I had to know if Renee was okay. Alice ran behind me but soon fell back. It was as if it were a dream. Everything was in slow motion. The sounds around me disappeared. Only one thing I was concentrating on came to my mom.
Something hot hit my back. My hand whipped around, it had cooled quickly. Black ash coated the tip of my finger. I swallowed my fear and kept running for the building were nearly overhead. I maneuvered out of the way of cops- that is… until I found Charlie. Somehow I felt relief that he was okay.
“Bella!” He said alarmed, taking me in his arms.
“Dad” I whispered in relief. He smelled of smoke. “Where’s Mom?” I asked catching my breath.
“She’s in the hotel down the street. Frank will take you” He motioned for Officer Jones who I was not particularly close to at the time. Charlie gave me a squeeze and let me go with him.
We ran and of course I tripped many times, once I fell to the ground and scraped my knees. Jones then ended up taking me in his arms and running me there. The sky shook from Frank’s running. My heart beat loudly in my chest as screams echoed in my mind. Terror seemed to surround the calm state I was in. I closed my eyes, shutting out the horror around me.
I felt the air of the Marriot wash over my skin. Then I heard the most wonderful sound I’d ever heard that day.
I opened my eyes to see Renee pushing through the huge crowd of people in the hotel. Jones let me down and I bound straight for her. Relief saturated me as my mother’s arms wrapped around me. Thank goodness… I thought I’d lost her. She stroked my hair and whispered that it was okay.
“I got you, baby” She squeezed and for once our roles seemed to be normal. Usually, I was the one calming Renee down from all her panic and craziness.
“Thank goodness, Mom” I said, tears in my eyes.
We were ordered to sit down against the wall. Renee held onto me, brushing my hair with her fingers, caressing my cheeks every now and then. We sat for awhile. I looked around at everyone in the room. There were workers, children, teachers, police, teens just like me. Then I noticed a boy maybe about my age, maybe a bit older? He was shaking. My heart shrunk for him. He had brown with a tint of red hair hanging just above his ears. His eyes looked a leaf color but I couldn’t be too sure. He looked terrified. I adjusted to get up but Renee pinned me down.
“Mom, I just want to check on that boy” I pointed at him and Renee shook her head violently. I glared at her.
“I’m not going to lose you. You can talk to him after this is all over” She said sharply.
“But-” I wanted to protest but she cut me off with a scared glance.
I sighed, defeated and watched the boy. A police officer came over, looking business-like asking him something. The boy shook his head, looking like he was trying not to cry.
We heard a train…except there wasn’t any train tracks nearby and all the subways were down.
“Everybody get down!” We heard police scream at us repeatedly. Then the boy had tears coming down his cheeks. I nearly got up but of course Renee yanked me down.
“The second tower’s coming down!” Someone shouted.
I covered my head and cowered into Renee. All that could be heard was the train, becoming louder and louder. It sounded like something was hitting against the building; rain? But it was perfectly sunny out…Renee and I held onto each other, both comforting at the same time.
After about thirty agonizing seconds, it stopped. Everyone was quiet. Then suddenly, a anguished scream filled the room. I looked over at the boy. He had his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth opened, tears streaming down his face. My heart broke into pieces in that moment. I had never seen someone in so much pain before. His cries were loud and painful. I thrust forward and fought against my mother’s restraints.
Each time he cried, I fought even harder, tears drenching my face.
Police surrounded him, restraining him as well.
“LET ME GO!” He screamed at them.
My mother’s nails dug into my skin, causing me to cry out in pain.
“Let me go!” I yelled at her.
“There’s nothing you can do, Bella!” Renee yelled back. I looked at her with such hate expression her hands snapped off my arms as if she had just been electrocuted.
I ran into the police as they restrained the boy. Jones held my arms pushing me back to Renee.
“No! No! Please!!” I heard my voice scream.
“LET ME GO!” he screamed.
He cried and yelled and screamed as I begged the officers to let me in.
“Please, he needs someone! Please!” I begged
“Are you in relation to him?” One asked and I shook my head.
“Then no” he told me.
I wanted to shoot myself. Why couldn’t I just lie? He needed someone and holding him back would do him no good. I crashed into them, trying my hardest to break their barrier. I felt like a mouse trying to break into the Great Wall Of China. Then I heard Charlie yelling and restraining me and finally pulling me back. I screamed and thrust forward. Then I felt a finger on my lower neck. Everything went black.
* * *
Let him go…Let him go…
Give him to me…
I’m so sorry…
Why didn’t you let anyone know?
“Bella, wake up”
Why didn’t you tell me, Edward?
“Bella!” I felt strong hands thrusting me back and forth, my eyes shaking awake. “Damn, when did you become such a heavy sleeper?” Emmett grumbled.
I blinked once. Twice. Multiple times. Thunder rumbled outside. Emmett’s head was towering over me. He was mad but I could sense his concern but other things were more important at the moment…
How could I not see it? How could I not remember? I remembered how that image- that day- had given me nightmares every night for a long time until I finally was successful in banishing it from my mind, that boy disappearing completely with it.
“I have to go” I sat straight up and went for my coat.
“W-hat?!” Emmett stammered and followed me.
“Please, understand, I have to go. Now.” I looked him straight in the eyes.
“At least let me give you a ride, its storming out there” Emmett panicked.
I couldn’t face the city traffic right now; it’d be easier to walk- to run.
I shook my head furiously and headed out before he could say another word. I sprinted down the stairs and into the city.
New York was same as always. Rain poured from the sky, faint lightning illuminated it. Thunder clashed in the distance. I ran through the crowds of people on the sidewalks. Brushing and pushing passed each and everyone. My hair became soaked in less than a minute as well as my whole body. I held back my shivers, I couldn’t think of being cold right now.
It felt like a nightmare. I can usually make it through the city walking to Edward’s in about ten minutes from Alice’s but not tonight. I felt like I was running at slow motion, just like the movies, just like that terrifying day so many years ago. Bodies pulled me back as they all squished together for shelter. That was the point where I snapped at everyone around me; breaking through everyone as they were strong metal chains I’d been imprisoned in.
How could he not tell me? How could I have not figured it out? How come no one was there for him? Why didn’t they let me through? So many question raced through my mind, one coming after the other without giving me time to think about any of them. I was afraid my questions would soon be answered.
And as if I’d made it to heaven, my home opened up in front of me. I sprinted to the maroon colored apartment building. After pushing the last of the pedestrians, I burst through the doors. I tapped the elevator button too many times.
“Come on, come on” I muttered to myself.
I finally heard my breathing; it was quick, panting, nearly exhausted breaths. My teeth began to chatter. It was freezing outside as well as the rain hitting me like ice cycles.
I nearly missed the elevator as its doors began to close. I slammed my hand between the doors and pushed myself through and pushed my level. I leaned against the railing catching my breath. I shivered sliding my cold, wet hands up and down my cold, wet arms. I’d left my jacket at Alice and Emmett’s. For once I wanted to cry, I needed the warmth of tears. My shivers became too much and I slid to the floor. My legs shook and my hands found my face, my hair. It was all cold, all wet.
But through all of it, I felt a beating; a fast, vibrant beating coming from my chest. My hand touched my collarbone and I felt my heart thumping furiously against it. Edward was only a few floors away. How much relief could I possibly feel? Enough to make me smile throughout all this pain. He needs me. He needs to have someone. He needs to know he has someone. He’s been way too alone for way too alone.
I ran through the elevator doors once I had enough room and down the hallway. And that door, that apartment door I’ve gotten to know so well, seemed to stand out like gold in silver. My shaky hands pulled out a pair of keys from my pocket. The keys shook as I constantly tried to get them in the lock. They shook too much that I couldn’t slide it in. I needed to calm myself down. I laid my head against the door, took a deep breath, relax my hand, slid the keys through the lock, twisted the knob and just like that, the door opened. The smell of Edward washed over my cold skin and I knew I was home.
The apartment was dark. The only sound in the room was my rapid heartbeat. Silence seemed louder than sound. One step and I knew, no living person inhabited this place. I hesitantly closed the door behind me. It creaked shut. I dropped my keys on the counter, cringing at the noise, and made my way down the hallway. I didn’t speak or call out, only looked. I knew if I spoke and heard nothing, I would regret it.
Rain pattered the glass windows, as I made my way to the living room, my heart dropped into my stomach for a moment. I saw a figure, crouched by the window opposite of me. I relaxed for I knew it was the boy I had been anxious to see for far too long. He had his arms wrapped around his knees, head lying against the glass. I wondered why he didn’t respond to my being here. My eyes traveled to the light switch. Was he awake? Only one way to find out…
My finger flicked the switch on, light filled the apartment. Edward jumped from where he was crouching. My breaths stifled. Edward breathed hard. All my will told me to go by his side but I remained in the entryway. Is he still mad from this morning? He shook his head, running his hands through his hair. He picked himself up off the floor. His head turned and I felt like I was looking at him for the first time. His face was so different; so miserable. His green eyes had lost their glow again and that’s what made my heart break into a thousand pieces.
We stood staring at each other without saying anything. In those endless moments, Edward knew that I knew what he’s had to go through half his life. His eyes moved down and away from mine. His name bubbled to my lips but before I could even get a syllable out, he walked passed me and into his room. I looked off into his direction, heartbroken. I placed my hands on my head. I tried to regulate my breathing but I couldn’t, tears fell from my cheeks.
Within the minute he left, he came back. I heard his footsteps and my heart jumped in my chest. He came back out of his room with a blanket in hand. He approached me, his eyes calm but emotionless. That’s what scared me the most. I wanted to talk to him but I couldn’t seem to find my voice. I needed to let him know. I had to tell him I remembered. His heat and smell blew onto my face as he draped the blanket over my shoulders. My forgotten shivers ceased.
He walked passed and behind me. My heart jumped and without hesitation, I ran back and grabbed the back of his blue shirt.
“Stop”, my voice came out strong and bold.
He halted, only because of my voice, not strength. He would surely pull me with him if I hadn’t spoken. This had to stop. I needed him to be him again.
“You don’t have to turn around, just listen”
He didn’t respond so I took that as an “okay”. I felt as though I was speaking to a robot. I hesitated for a few minutes before speaking. “I’m sorry…about everything”, Tears reformed in my eyes but I kept my voice sharp. “I’m sorry about your parents” – he flinched. I waited till I could speak again. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you…when I was right across from you”, I waited for a reaction but I got none. “Edward, I’m so sorry” I let my head drop and let go.
Several minutes passed. Neither of us moved or said anything. The silence seemed unbearable. I prayed Edward would forgive me or return to normal; anything but this. My vision became blurry. Edward took a step forward after that silence.
“N-No!” I tripped over my feet, my hands reached out and my arms wrapped around his waist. My head pushed against his back. He halted again. “D-don’t” My voice stuttered. “You can’t do this, Edward” I breathed into the fabric of his shirt. “Not while I’m around”. It was then I realized I had broken down that last wall I had built for myself ever since that day years ago. I had crossed every boundary line I had specifically drawn. I had broken all my rules.
Yet I felt no regret. I felt no pain. I felt no loss. I felt no piercing pain in my heart. None. I felt heated. I felt excited. I felt warm. I felt confident and bold. I felt everything maybe more with Edward then I ever did with anyone else. And in that moment, I knew I would need him for as long as I lived; friend or love. I needed him now. This was exactly what I had been afraid of from the start. But is it a bad thing? It should be. I should be repulsed. I should be scrambling now. But I’d rather be right here than standing around doing nothing. My hands were fists against his chest. His heart beat under them, slow rhythmically.
“Please” I begged softly, “Please, stop hurting yourself” tears rolled down my face. “Please”.
Slowly, he was alive again. He turned in my arms. I looked to see his head move down towards me. His eyes were full of tears.
“Oh, Edward…” I murmured. He had hid his pain from the world too long.
My arms slid from his back as he fully turned to face me. A second passed. He quickly slid his arms around my waist and brought his head to my shoulder. Shock filled me. Edward was embracing me back? I didn’t begin to question. I just let relief fill me. He was not abandoning me. His body shook. My arms wrapped around neck and I embraced him back.
It was absolutely the best feeling in the world: being the arms of Edward. It was secure, so safe, and so warm. Both of us were shaking and crying. “Its okay, its okay” I whispered in his ear. “I’m here” I told him. Finally the words I had wanted to say to him since that very day were heard.
I guided us to the couch, still embraced; I let him hold onto me more. He tried to make as little noise as possible but I felt his hot tears on my shoulder. I laid my head into his shoulder. We sat for a good half hour. He however calmed down quite quickly. I still murmured reassurances even when he was done, although, I felt my eyes getting droopy. Soon it was quiet and as I was about to fall asleep, I already knew I had one more thing to do. I started whispering my part of the story in Edward’s ear. I whispered every detail of the story to him, everything I remembered. I’d yawn occasionally. I don’t know but I was sure I finished my story and was still murmuring reassurances, I fell asleep into Edward.
In memory of victims of 9/11 and thier families <3