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While this story is linked to an event in History, the characters in the story bear no resemblance to figures linked to the event.

“I can’t wait to see you.” The circulation in Angelo’s hand had cut off more than a minute before, from resting the phone between the pillow and his ear. It tingled like a thousand tiny pins had repeatedly pierced his skin, as the feeling slowly returned. He winced as he sat up and, with his free hand, re-adjusted the pillows behind his back. He reached over to the drawer of his bedside table, opened it and plucked a small red box from it.
“Me too,” she whispered. Mary’s voice was sweet, but deep and a little husky, but he could hear the fatigue in her reply. Angelo knew it had been a long week for her. “Angelo, when I get back, we need to talk.”
Her ice blue eyes lingered on the gold wrist watch he had bought her for Christmas. They had been together four and a half months when he’s asked her to accompany him to his parent’s San Francisco home, where he had grown up, and had always made a point to return to each year for the holidays. She had enjoyed the time they had spent there together and his parents had warmed to her right away.
A quarter past seven.
As the second hand approached the 12, Mary fought hard against the tears she was sure would come if she lingered on the words she knew she needed to say – the words she knew would break his heart, especially since it was their anniversary. She was yet to find out what Angelo was planning for her return – probably some high priced restaurant, so predictable, she thought to herself. A week ago she might have still thought it was sweet, but that was before she had realized she couldn’t have both the job of her dreams – and him. She knew she had to give up one and when would she ever have got another opportunity like this one. She knew she would only be returning home to pack her things, finalise her life in L.A and fly back to Boston and her new life. She would always love him, but she knew he would never fit into her world. It had to be done.
She could just see herself losing her nerve, as she sank into his arm where she would cave and stay.
It just wasn’t an option.
Fresh out of College, at her age, newspaper reporter jobs did not normally fall out of the sky as easily as this one had. This job offer was the break of her career, the one she knew she would regret turning down.
Angelo didn’t hear the sadness in her voice as she spoke – nor could Mary see the dreamy smile on his face as he traced the lid of the tiny velvet box with his thumb. He flicked open the lid and the diamond cluster shimmered under the night light. He couldn’t wait for her to find it in a slice of her favourite black-forest cake, right under the cherry. He had been busy in the lead up to this day, booking the restaurant, arranging the flowers to arrive in time for dessert, picking up his suit from the dry cleaners. He had even laid out the dress she would wear, that he had caught her eyeing longingly in a shop window only a week ago. He glanced over to the easy chair in his bedroom, where it hung in the clear plastic dress bag on top of his suit and closed his eyes to picture her in it and how her auburn locks would cascade over her bare shoulders, just as she had done when she’d seen it. He hoped she would say yes.
“Are you still there?” Mary’s voice broke into his daydream.
“I’m still here,” He answered. His tired brown eyes snapped open and he found himself focusing on the clock on his desk, the red numbers blinking at him, reminding him how long it would be until he would see her face and hold her once again.
They had been talking for half an hour, while she waited for her flight to board. “So what time will you land here?” he asked.
He heard the paper rattling through the phone and he knew she was checking her itinerary, “It says here we land at 9:51, but I’ll say 10, to be safe.”
“Well I’ll be waiting near the baggage claim.” It was like a cobra was coiled around her, squeezing her chest until she could no longer breathe.
“Are you sure you’re okay to pick me up? What about work?”
“I’ve got the day off.”
Her heart sank. There was no choice other than to go through with his plans.
Twenty-five past seven.
It was breaking her heart to know that the wonderful day she could only imagine he was planning was about to become his saddest, because of what she had to say.
His boss had not been happy with him for it, but he understood, when Angelo told him why he needed the day off. He had even congratulated him, saying he hoped it would go well.
Angelo stifled a yawn – he didn’t want Mary to think she was boring him to sleep. It was quite the opposite. He had slept lightly until she had called, knowing that any minute she would. Maybe, she thought, she could just let him have one last beautiful memory of their time together…. No! That would be cruel.
She could hear his inevitable failed attempt to hold back the yawn.
“You should just stay in bed, sleep. I’ll see you at my apartment later on.”
How sweet, he thought, how she didn’t want to put him out, how she always put others before herself. He loved that about her.
“No. I’ll be fine.” The cobra tightened its hold and she found herself gasping for air.
She hated herself feeling that way. It was not that she had stopped loving him, she always would, but his love overwhelmed her and at times, especially now felt like it was smothering her.
She fiddled with the 24 caret gold wrist band of her watch, and the pearl face caught a fluorescent light from overhead. The second hand was approaching the 6.
Twenty-nine past seven.
They talked for another minute, before he heard the announcement over airport’s P.A. system through the phone.
The cobra released its grip and she let out a sigh.
“That’s my flight I have to go. I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay. I –” Click! “love you.”
He hung up and placed his cell on the nightstand, with the tiny velvet box, making a mental note to remember to pick it up with his wallet, phone and car keys.
Mary strolled up the isle of the plane and checked her itinerary once again. Just as it had said the previous time she checked, Business Class, seat 10A. As she settled into the seat next to an olive skinned gentleman, he caught her eye and smiled. His brown eyes were so intense and she detected a hint of sadness.
She half returned the smile before turning towards the window.
“Everything will be okay,” he whispered, in broken English. She found his words strange. Had he noticed the dread in her eyes? Was her own sadness that transparent? What had prompted his kind words? Perhaps it was the tear that had snuck its way down her cheek and dripped onto her watch blurring its face.
Twenty minutes to eight.
She quickly brushed it away. She had to think of the bigger picture – of the brilliant start she was about to make to her career. Finally she would achieve something her folks could be proud of.
Angelo snuggled deeper under his feather doona, hoping he could catch enough sleep before he had to get everything ready and negotiate the traffic to the airport.
It felt like he had only just begun to drift off to sleep, when he heard the message tone. He reached over to the night stand to pick it up and glanced at the words on the small screen.
“I U.” He smiled as he glanced over at the clock.
He closed his eyes again, not realizing he was still cradling the cell phone in his hand, until its ring broke into the silence.
He looked at the name, blinking at him on the phone and groaned.
He barely took a minute to glance at the time.
He deliberated whether or not to answer it, but knew if he did, his boss would just keep calling. Reluctantly he pushed the green button and held the phone up to his ear.
“Angelo. It’s Bruce. You need to turn on the television.”
“What? Why?”
“Just do it.”
Without another word he climbed out of bed and threw on the first shirt he could find and with his phone still in his hand he made his way to the living room of his apartment.
After several minutes of searching for the remote control, he found it and clicked the power button.
As the television came to life, he could hear the sounds of people screaming as they ran from the direction of a burning building.
“Great movie Bruce, but why did you want me to watch it for. I could’ve just hired it to watch later.”
“That’s no movie. That’s the Twin Towers.”
Just as he said it, there was an explosion and the second tower was beginning to crumble as a jet flew into it. He remained, stunned in the middle of the lounge room, his feet rooted to the polished timber floor, his eyes glued to the screen in disbelief at the horrifying images playing out on the screen like a B grade Hollywood film. He could barely register what took place, on screen, nor could he focus on Bruce’s voice on the other end of the phone as he rubbed away the sleep from his bloodshot eyes.
“Angelo, Buddy, they’re saying the two planes were coming from Boston…”
Bruce did not need to say anything more.
Angelo let the phone crash to the floor as he sank into a black leather armchair. He could no longer speak and he could barely breathe. As the first tear fell, he wondered if he’d ever breathe properly again.
He blinked it away and focused on the phone on the floor. He tried to find strength enough to stand and reach for it, but his knees buckled until he was in a heap on the floor beside it. With clumsy hands he picked it up and rested it against his ear.
“Bruce, I have to go,” but Bruce had already hung up.
He fumbled with the menu button until he found Mary’s number and pressed the green button. There was no ring tone only an automated message.
He hit the red button to disconnect the call and tried again, hoping she was just on another call and that she would hang up again soon. The same message burned his ear and the pain shot to his heart. He felt like the room was closing in around him as he tried a third time, still no more successful than the first two attempts.
Then before he realized what he’d done, he was staring at the little heart symbol in her last text message. He closed his eyes and prayed he would never open them. His tears flowed freely, the only thing that escaped him.
A cool gust of wind brushed his arm and he thought for a minute he could feel her hand on his shoulder.
A tiny shiver ran down his spine, just enough to remind him he was still alive.
“I love you,” he was sure he could hear her sweet voice in the wind.

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