All In: Writing about 9/11

My last novel, All In (2005), centers on a character killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The book is told from three different voices (his brother, niece and wife) months and years after the events. The most powerful voice is, of course, that of his wife, Cheryl. Phone 005We argued. That’s how I left him. I walked away because I wasn’t listening. It was ridiculous. It wasn’t even an argument. And then I was on the elevator. There was a stout woman across from me; she had folds in her arms, bulging layers at her elbows and shoulders. It was ridiculous how I never said what I wanted. I was angry at him, and I didn’t know why. It was all so ridiculous. I waited in the sky lobby. There was an attendant there from the restaurant; the express wasn’t working. Her fingernails were red. I wasn’t going to call him. He would call me. And then I heard it; it was a vibration and then much louder than that. I stopped and was going to turn to see what it was. I knew it was somewhere else, this sound coming in. I held myself there, twisted against the ground. I couldn’t move. There was only the light on the floor and my hand out in front of me. IMAG1398I was on my side. I couldn’t hear anything and then it was sharp and bright, knocking me flat again so that I was holding against myself, thinking of what I must have broken and where my purse had gone. I was looking across, how the light was orange and grey, and there was the woman, the attendant with red nails, hunched and then standing. I wasn’t going to move. And then I was sitting and trying to think. I smelt gas. It was something they would have to fix. I could see out the window, and there was smoke or fog, something that made it so I couldn’t look out without my hand on my eyes. I couldn’t understand why no one was here. And then my phone was ringing. “Hello?”

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  1. Pingback: Remembering 9/11: Excerpt from "All In" | my bad side

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