I spoke to a girl, with shattered glass eyes, who asked me about September 11th.
‘You were there yeah?’ she said with a rich accent I was unable to immediately identify.
‘Yes.’ I confirmed. Knowing I was different then. Wondering why she wanted to know.
‘What did you do?’ she asked with an intensity I found somewhat frightening, cornered by her accented abruptness, cut by the glass of her eyes.
‘I got high and pretended like it wasn’t happening,’ I said. Unable to whistle the standard set of wasted words that I usually spew when people ask me about it. Words like “Oh… I mean… there was nothing you could really do…” Wasted words.
The girl’s glassy eyes sparkled at my honesty and I somehow felt intimidated by this apparent approval. ‘I was in war in Bosnia,’ she said looking through me. ‘When I was a teenager. I survived the war there. Twenty thousand other children did not.’
There’s a silence between us as I absorb her tragedy; she suddenly seems as curious to understand why she’s telling me this as I am to know what I could possibly teach her. A smile stretches across her full violet lips.
‘I pretend like it never happened,’ she says and I’m unsure if she’s mocking or agreeing with me. I feel deserving of either and a bit sickened at feeling like I deserve anything at all. ‘You try to forget.’ I wonder if she means me, her, or us. I’m leaning toward the latter. We all try to forget.
‘And now we are here,’ she concludes referring to the new place we’ve both discovered. So far from where either of us came, but closer then ever to where we are from. I suddenly feel safe enough to smile. A little embarrassed. A little ashamed.
The winter sun beams through the window as the world basks in its warm reminder. We simultaneously close our eyes consumed by the sudden rays of light. When I am able to refocus I see my reflection in my new companion’s glassy gaze.
‘Let’s go outside.’