Breaking News

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.

I Waited For You


I waited for you today. It was freezing cold when I watched you walk to your car, even though it was the middle of the day. Not once did you even look back. If you had you would have seen me try to follow you as you opened your door, got in and turned your car on. All you said was ‘stay’ but I was confused and follow you. I was trying to to let you know you had forgotten something – me, but you weren’t paying attention. I jumped back in fright as I felt the car move forward. How could you not see me at your window looking in, pawing desperately at the window pane to get your attention? You simply stared straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel, looking a little, sad but mostly determined. What else could I do? I backed away from the car as I watched you speed away. Mud shot out from under your tires as you went, pelting me in the face. It stung and I yelped. Still you did not turn around.

I waited for you, even though I really don’t like getting wet, especially from the rain, but my coat was soaked through and I was shivering as I watched your car disappear into the distance, barely visible through the water that was pelting down from the heavens. I tried desperately to bat the drops away from face and shield my eyes, but it was no use.

Is this a game? I like playing games and I remember what fun our games used to be, but this is nothing like fetch or tug-of-war. How do I play this game? You never told me the rules. I’m sure I would have understood if you had. Instead I was left sitting on the side of a narrow road in the mud. Did I play it right? Was ‘stay’ all I was supposed to do? I’m sorry I followed you. Is that why you left, to see how far you could go from me while I ‘stay’?

I waited for you. This game hasn’t been much fun. Is it over now? Please let it be over so you can come back for me. I want to go home now. The rain has started to ease, but I’m still cold and my fur stinks of mud and wet dust. I decided to find some shelter in some bushes nearby. They do nothing to keep the rain off me but it certainly blocks the wind a little. This offers some relief from the cold at least. I know I should stay visible, but I am still near the road where I can see your car when you return for me. I have seen a few cars pass, but none of them so far have been yours. I am beginning to feel afraid. I hope you’ll be back soon. I’m hungry. It must be almost time for dinner.

I waited for you. It is getting darker and I’m growing tired. I ignored my body’s cry for sleep as long as I could, for I didn’t want to fall asleep and miss your return for me. Not even the groans of my aching stomach could keep me awake much longer. My eyes stung from the rain, tears and bitter tiredness. I finally succumb to it, but not for too long, I promise. It wasn’t a very nice sleep, not like when we used to curl up together. I was still very small then and a lot of your friends would comment how cute I was then. When did I stop being cute? Is that why you stopped giving me attention? Is that when you stopped loving me? What is that like, to stop loving someone? I always thought love was unconditional. I thought it would last forever. Am I supposed to stop loving you now? Is that the way this goes? I don’t think I can as that’s something I’ve never done before, stop loving and would take a very long time, possibly forever. Please come back and show me I don’t have to, because you still love me and I am still your baby. I miss you.

I waited for you. I waited all night under that bush. I woke up every time I heard the slightest sound, hoping it was you. It rained again and I just could not get warm again in the wet. The sun is out today so maybe I can find somewhere in the warm to dry off. My body shivers so much I can barely stand, but despite the tremors I have managed to move out from the bushes without collapsing on my shaky legs. I so am weak from hunger and there is a dryness in my mouth, that reminds me I should have a drink. I find a puddle, but it’s almost dried up. I can taste the mud on my tongue and almost gag, but I keep drinking until there is no water just mud that I am eating. I fall in a heap beside the dried up crater and try to thaw out. I close my eyes again and hope the time passes quickly. Please come and get me soon, I’m scared.

Is that you? I wake up to the sound of tires halting on the gravel. I jump up with fright, hitting my head on the front bumper. I drop suddenly from the shock and I crawl out from under the car. It’s when I stand up and shake off these last traumatic seconds that I see that this is a different car. Perhaps yours is broken and you got a ride with a friend to come pick me up? I can’t wait to see you, to look in your eyes and say sorry for everything I’ve done wrong to make you leave me here. I can’t wait to apologise for knocking the baby to the ground when I got excited to see her and for nipping at her when she pulled my tail. It hurt and that was the only way I could tell her so, but I really am sorry, just like I’m sorry for digging in the yard yesterday. I only wanted to go for a walk, not run away. You were busy and I was bored so I thought I’d take myself. I promise I’ll never do it again.

I waited for you and now you’re here!!! Can we go home now? Will my dinner be there? I hope my water bucket is full. I look so forward to drinking clean water that is free of mud! My tail wags wildly, smacking your number plate as I hear the car door open. The sharp edge feels like it’s cutting me but I don’t care. You’re here!!! I hear heavy footsteps on the ground and twigs crackling under shoes as they round the corner to the front of the car. Do you realise dogs cry, I mean really cry, with real tears? My eyes are blurred from mine and a howl escapes me, I howl not with happiness but a mixture of fright and disappointment, because those footsteps don’t belong to you and those feet in those shoes are bigger than yours. Someone has come for me but it’s not you.

“Hey little guy, what are you doing out here?” His voice is soothing but all I want to do is run from this man. How will you find me if I leave this place? I can’t let him take me away! You told me to ‘stay’ so I will fight to stay here so I don’t have to disobey you again. I am still howling and I try to run as he bends down to say hello. He is too quick, seeing my anguish he quickly grabs my collar. “It’s okay, I’m not here to hurt you,” he strokes my head but I duck. I know he is kind, but he is not you. You’re my best friend, am I still yours?

The man groans as he picks me up. I wriggle in a last desperate attempt to free myself, butting my head against his nose, but he holds me tighter, not letting me go. My howling dies down a little until it is just a whimper. He carries me around to the driver’s side and loads me into the seat of his car. With no way to jump out I am forced onto the passenger seat as the kind man climbs in. He turns on the ignition and the car roars to life. He gives me a gentle scratch behind the ear and I look into his eyes through tears. “You’re going to be okay now, fella,” he says but my whimpering continues. I lay on the seat rest my chin on the console in the middle, defeated.

I waited for you, but you didn’t come. I’m sorry I couldn’t ‘stay’.

Not Today: Bruiser’s Last Car Journey

The wind caresses my face, lifting my ears as I watch the world wiz by through my watering brown eyes. It is moments like this that I live for and the jingle of the car keys that would make my heart skip a beat, but not today.
In my younger days I would dash through the little swinging door out to the garage, and I would wait, my little tail wagging with glee. I’d paw at the door handle of Master’s Navara, letting out a little whimper and then I’d growl and snap at it in frustration when it didn’t open. When I was lucky enough to join Master for a drive, I’d proudly prop myself up in the passenger seat beside him unless Mistress joined us, just like a human, but not today. Just as when Mistress came with us, I would have to sit in the back. Is she coming too? Where are we going?
Sometimes Master would give me an apologetic look as he finally unlocked his door. ‘Not today, Mate,’ he’d say, pushing me away, as I attempt to push past him into the driver’s seat.
Today I am in a blanket is laid out for me on the back seat, just in case… well you know. I am on a journey, but I don’t know where I am going. I am Bruiser. I am loyal. I am love in it’s purest form. I am no longer young. I am weak, sore and very tired, but I am happy.
Usually we go driving to the park or the beach, or to the footy to watch the kids play, but not today.
In the early days, when I was a young rescue pup, just getting to know Master and my place in my new home, I went everywhere in the car with Master, even to work with Master. They called me his little offsider.
When Mistress came into our family, my job was to look after her, while she was home. Despite wanting nothing more than to ride with Master on another of our adventures, I felt a sense of duty to Master. I took pride in knowing that with me around, Mistress was always safe. I’d stand on guard in the yard at 1pm every day, just waiting for the high pitched whine of the Postie’s bike. My ears would stand on end, tingling, when I heard the faintest sound, and I’d growl in anticipation at the first glimpse of his figure in the distance. This was my moment to shine and do my humans proud. As the roar got louder and the Postie’s figure came closer to my end of the street, I would let out the fiercest bark, growling my warning to him with absolute conviction. Then I’d run along beside him, with only the fence separating us, taking a flying leap at the other end of the yard, but never quite high enough to clear it. Disappointed, I would sit, giving a little whine in frustration and watch the Postie’s bike roar on as he disappeared from sight. I had failed. Tomorrow I would try again. I’d let out a warning pee on the post of the mailbox to mark my territory in preparation of the next day’s battle.
When baby Master Jr. first started to walk he would join me in those daily squabbles with the Postie, I would let him run beside me along the fence, always mindful that he is small and careful not to knock him over and he would shout along with me at the Postie. “Grrr!!! Mr Postman!!!” he’d growl in his meanest voice (I taught him well). Then I’d watch him try with all his might to climb the fence. Of course I’d nudge him with my snout, if he climbed too high, for it was my job to keep him (and later, baby Mistress Jr.) safe.
Mistress would call us both back, rousing on me for my ‘nuisance’ barking. She never really understood, or she might have one day thanked me or call me ‘Good boy’. Never the less, thanks or no thanks I would continue to do my job, but not today.
Sometimes when Mistress would tell Master about my battles with the Postie, he’d pat my head and give me a scratch behind the ears. He didn’t say it but I knew what those ear scratches meant. Then he’d jingle the keys and I knew I would be rewarded with a car ride. Excited, I would leap into the passenger seat and paw at the window until Master wound it down for me to poke my head out to catch the wind.
Those moments when we took to the highway were pure bliss. Even today, resting on my shaky legs in the backseat I still enjoy the sweet smells carried on the wind, tickling my nostrils making them twitch. As we drove through town, I could smell the steaks cooking in one of the restaurants and I savoured the scent, remembering the many BBQs that Master would host, and how I’d watch him full of hope, waiting for him to throw a steak my way. “Wait,” he’d say sternly and patiently I’d sit, with my eyes glued to the BBQ, watching him move each sizzling steak off the plate onto a dish. Then he’d hold the last one in front of my eyes. “Gentle,” he’d say, just as I’m about to chomp into it. I’d pause, to think about what I am doing, for I never wanted to accidentally bite and hurt Master. I’d gently take it in my front teeth, as Master released his grip and I’d take my prize to my bowl by the back step to drop it in and crouch down. First I’d lick it savouring the flavours of this small piece of heaven. Then I’d chomp into it, gulping down my prize. When it was gone I’d stare up at Master, charming him with my begging eyes and smile with my tongue hanging out. “No more,” Master would say, showing me his empty hands and pointing at the empty BBQ plate. I knew anyway but I never hurt to try my luck.
I lick my chops, as I stare out the window, trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. I long for one more steak. I pull my head back into the car to glance at Master’s eyes in the rear view mirror, hoping he’d see my begging eyes. That’s when I see the tear slipping from his eye and rolling down his cheek. I understand leaky eyes. Mine do that when I’m sad. Mistress had leaky eyes before we left home. I don’t know why she didn’t come with us, but when crouched down and put her arms around my neck, her chest was heaving and she let out a big gasp for air as she gave me ear a scratch. “You’ve been a good boy,” she whispered and then master had lifted me into the car. I know humans, too, get leaky eyes when they are sad, but I don’t understand what is making my humans so sad. Master and I are just going for a drive, aren’t we? Not today.
On shaky legs I inch toward the front of the seat where I can rest my chin on his shoulder. “Hey boy,” he says, forcefully batting the tear away. It takes all the energy I have in me to lift my head and give his cheek a lick to comfort. “Why are your eyes leaking, Master?” I try to ask but all he hears is a little whimper.
He misunderstands, mistaking my curiosity for a small cry of pain. “I know, mate,” he says, “It’ll be over soon.” I am more confused than ever.
My legs cannot take my weight anymore and so I turn my head away from Master and I crawl back to my spot on the backseat. I curl up on the blanket with no energy left to resume staring out the window. Through tired eyes I watch the power lines wiz past with the occasional crow clinging to the wire. “Arrrrk!! Hello!” they’d cry out and the sound would trail off in the distance as we keep moving along. I usually bark “hello” back to them but not today. I don’t have the energy to offer any more than a sigh. Tired, I close my eyes for a while.
I am awake suddenly when I hear the high pitched squeal of the car brakes and feel the car stop. Confused, I put a paw out against the back Master’s seat to steady myself from rolling off the seat. Why are we stopping? On tired aching legs I stand to get a view out the window. We are parked in front of a familiar building with paw prints painted above the door. Why do I know this building? I’ve been here before, but when? The last time I left, I remember wearing a bucket around my neck. I couldn’t lick to groom myself, nor could I scratch my favourite spot behind my ear. I had a new chip in my head and a scar where my manhood had been. I remember the cold stainless steel table and the sweet eyes of the nice lady vet staring intently before a blinding torch light burned into mine. They were the last thing I’d seen as I went to sleep on that cold table, the day my manhood was taken. Was I getting that back today? Half-hearted, I wagged my tail. That small glimmer of hope would soon be squashed when those kind eyes would show immense concern and a deep sadness. A bond had been formed that day back then and today I am learning fast that with that bond, as all formed over the life time of an old dog, is accompanied with the heartbreak of goodbye.
I want to show her and Master what a good strong boy I am. So I try with all my might to walk proudly into that door with the paws, but my legs are struggling under the weight of my 30 kilo body. These frail legs can no longer carry me and with the door just three steps away, I am collapsing in a broken heap. A man, leaving at that moment carrying a small cage, holds open the door as Master picks me up. My paws are draped over his shoulders and from this height, I can see a small kitten in the man’s cage. It gives a tiny “mew” in acknowledgement and I whimper a short greeting.
The sad, kind eyed vet is holding the door open to room with the cold steel table for Master to carry me straight into the room. I can feel the familiar cold harsh surface as he sets me down. I am too weak to struggle. It doesn’t seem as big as it was last time, but I am just as afraid, if not more. Master does not leave my side and I can see that even though the tears are no longer there, there is still the same intense sadness in his eyes. He converses with the kind lady vet in quiet whispers, so quiet that I can barely make out words they are saying. She is half talking to me, staring sadly into my eyes as she reassures Master that I will soon be ‘at peace’, whatever that means. I soon understand that it means I will no longer be in ‘pain’. Does that mean I will walk, proudly alongside Master out of this cold place, with my manhood back where it belongs? “Please don’t make me wear the bucket again,” I plead with my eyes. Would I ride up front with him on the drive home? Will I run along the fence with the Postie warning him not to overstep the boundary of the fence? Will the much older young Master and young Mistress run beside me again? They are now able climb over the fence with little effort. Would I be able also? “Thank you, Thank you, nice lady vet,” I say with a lick of gratitude up the side of her face.
“Do you think he knows?” Master asks.
“I’m not sure, maybe,” the vet replies after a long pause. “You’ll be in a nice sleep, soon enough my friend.” She gives me another scratch behind the ears and I lean into it, blissfully. She reaches for a needle. They still terrify me and I let my fear known in a whine, while I desperately attempt to escape. Of course I cannot stand and so I succumb. “Forgive me, Boy,” Master says as he takes my paw in his hand. My eyelids feel heavy but I begin to feel my fright giving way to the light. I can feel all the love and all his sorrow rush through me. I suddenly realise the nice lady vet is finished with the needle and putting it in a yellow bin on the wall. The last thing I remember is Master still holding my paw, never letting it go and the nice lady vet stroking my soft coat as all the warmth leaves my body. I can feel a new sensation, now, like I could just lift myself off the table and float. Am I floating away? I like this feeling and I give into it, leaving the poor fail body of an old dog behind, lying on the table still and lifeless. I no longer need it. I am Bruiser. I am seventeen years old. I am no longer young but I have lived a good life. I was loyal and loved with every fibre of my being, until the very end, as I was put on this earth to do and I in turn learned loyalty and felt the warmth of love returned. I am leaving behind everything about this world that no longer serves me, all its harshness and bitterness, taking with me only the beauty I’ve known that I treasure, the love in my heart and the lessons learned in this life. I am on a journey. I don’t know where I am going, but I am happy. I am at peace.

*This beautiful photo that went viral 2015 is the inspiration for this story.