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She turned the telly on for some company, expecting to see the usual daytime fare of makeovers, DIY shows and cookery programmes. Instead, the news was on, a single newsreader in the studio looking very serious with a banner in front of him that read simply “Breaking News”. She paused, duster in one hand, remote in the other, trying to figure out what was going on as she turned up the volume. Last time she’d seen the news come on randomly like this, it was when Princess Diana died. She wondered for a moment if it was the Queen Mother this time.

The newsreader on the screen was replaced by video footage. She watched in silence, sinking to her knees as the video played.

She had never been to America; aside from one afternoon visiting war graves in the right part of Turkey, she had never been outside of Europe. The scene on the screen, however, was almost as familiar as her own home town. Film-makers often used those buildings as a visual cue; a handy shortcut that told you that this wasn’t just any city, this was New York. It was the equivalent of showing Big Ben or Tower Bridge to prove you were in London.

She watched the footage as it was replayed, over and over and over. She watched in silence as they discussed the evacuation, the possible culprits, as they talked about other planes in the air. She was watching when they reported that the first tower had fallen. She was watching when the second tower fell, the antenna at its summit sliding straight down as if sinking through water. When her husband came home from work, she was still there on her knees, duster in one hand, remote control in the other.

© Kari Fay