Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tease Tease Tease Tease

THE ANIMALS WERE GONE. Lio and Craig are eating lunch outside during the D.C. sniper shootings. Lio's POV.


He says, “Can I tell you something about September 11th? It's something I figured out the other day, and I guess I thought you might have something interesting to say about it. Or not say, you know, whatever.”

I squeeze my fingernails into my palms. Now I remember. “Because I'm from New York?”

“Yeah. So here's what I'm thinking. I heard so much about how New York City really came together as a city after September 11th. You know, you guys rebuilt and rejuvenated and there was this new sense of...of humanity? I keep reading that, is that true? You experienced this new togetherness?”

“I guess.” There were a lot of candle and rallies, and people held hands and cried. Three days after we were walking too close to Ground Zero and my sister started crying. I started to hold her and someone held her from the other side and then someone put his arms around both of us. And someone put her arms around him and all of us were there, but my sister was the only one who cried. That part didn't change. It's Rachel, she's always the one to cry. She couldn't go back to school for awhile because she was just messed up. And she was miles away from the towers when they fell, though I know I shouldn't use that to pass judgment. She was in the city. That counts. She was part of the togetherness.

I crumple my empty raisin box in my hand.

He says, “I don't think that ever happened in D.C. We never bonded over September 11th. We swept up and pretended there was never a mess, y'know, and isn't that really depressing?”


“We never came together. It was almost like...like we didn't even talk about what happened, because we were so wrapped up in what happened in New York. The Pentagon seemed like such...small potatoes.”

I have no idea what small potatoes means, and that pisses me off. It's probably some Southern thing.

He says, “So maybe this wouldn't be so scary if the wound weren't still raw from 9/11. Though this isn't really happening in D.C, I guess...”

“None of it really happened in D.C,” I mumble.

He looks at me. “What?”

I don't look at him. “You guys didn't come together after September 11th because September 11th wasn't yours.”

Now it's Craig who isn't saying anything. I hazard a glance at him, and he looks a lot like I probably did when he was talking, hands clenched, nostrils twitching. The difference is, I notice that he's upset and he didn't notice I was, and the similarity is, neither one of us gives a shit.

“A hundred and twenty-five people died,” he says eventually. “A hundred and twenty five...”

“Over three thousand in New York. The pentagon wasn't the towers.”

“You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, Lio.”

“I don't know...? A hundred twenty five to three thousand is exactly the same as comparing these shootings to 9/11.”

He makes his eyes smaller. “No, it isn't.”

“Why not?”

“Because it's not all about the numbers. It's not...God, dead people isn't just counting. I know it sounded like I was saying that in class, but...”

I pick at my jeans. “I disagree.” That was the only time he was on the right track.

He takes his apple out of his lunch box and squeezes it. “The whole country cared about New York City. No one gave a shit about us. Half the newspapers outside of the U.S. didn't even mention us, all they cared about was New York. I went into the city afterwards and it was like...”

The fact that he has to specify that he went into D.C. makes it all the more clear that he is a fucking Marylander, for God's sake. Soon the Virginians are going to be encroaching on our fucking grief. Then what, Louisiana? Fuck this shit.

I say, “The newspapers cared about us because we got owned. And Washington D.C. was the only city in the entire fucking country who didn't give New York any bit of sympathy.” My throat hurts. I don't want to do this shit anymore.

Craig throws his apple in the dirt. “Fuck off, we had our own problems.”

“You had a fucking inferiority complex.”

He crosses his arms and now neither of us is looking at the other.

But he doesn't know. And it's awful of him to even pretend like he knows, and it's disrespectful to those 3,000 people. He shouldn't be using them as a fucking learning opportunity when he wasn't there. He didn't suffer. What does he even know about dying? He's been so alive his whole life it makes me want to throw up.

And to talk about 9/11 as this inspiring experience for us, what the fuck is that? It was not inspiring, and even if it was, it is not his place to make that call. 9/11 was numbers and death and fire. It wasn't a city giving itself a group hug. Fuck this.

I stand up in time to see that Craig's crying.

This takes some of the air out of me, even though it's hardly the first time I've seen him cry. The boy broke down during a History Channel segment on the Civil War in American Civ a few weeks ago, for God's sake.

“A hundred and twenty-five people, you know?” I say, quietly. “It's just not the same.”

“You don't know,” he whispers.

It's a miracle; I'm so angry, my air came back. “I don't know? What did 9/11 mean to you? What does it mean to anyone who didn't see the towers fall?”

His eyes are cat-narrowed. “My boyfriend's fucking father didn't die in the fucking towers, jackass!” He stands up after he says this, instead of before.

I swallow.


robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) said...


MBee said...

I can tell this is going to be a powerful book. Kudos to you for choosing a topic most people wouldn't dare try to write about. I'm anxious to read it in it's entirety.

Linda said...

I want to read this book so bad.

Amy Lukavics said...

You're made of 'lyke woah'.

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

You are amazing :)

hannah said...

Thank you, guys. :)

suzie townsend said...

I am *in love* - seriously.

hannah said...

I love youuuuu

Jordyn said...


damn. (and that's coming from a girl who does.not.cuss.)

Rebecca said...

Wow! This is my first trip to your blog and THIS is what I read?! Love it.

inkspatters said...


Just absolutely Amazing.

Kristi Faith said...

Good stuff! I'm definitely wanting more. :)

Nadine said...

Holy crap, can I please write like you?

My favorite line: What does he even know about dying? He's been so alive his whole life it makes me want to throw up.


hannah said...

heehee, thanks, Nadine. Lio was pretty sick as a kid, so he knows a thing or two that Craig doesn't. But not as much as he thinks he does, haha.

Judith Engracia said...

hard-hitting, raw, love it.

Liz Czukas said...

I have shivers. This is a topic I have just barely come to terms with and reading about it never fails to bring me back to that moment. This is going to be a hell of a book, Hannah.

- Liz

Glen Akin said...

This is very powerful writing. I felt it all - the pain, the passion - everything. Damn, you're good