They stood side by side, hand in hand and their feet touched. Mary could feel Tom’s hand squeezing hers, letting her know, without words, that they were one, a couple, and were in this together, as they had been for almost two years now. He turned to kiss her.
It had started as a slow, drunken dance at a Christmas party; his steps awkward, a little drunk and she, not sober, sometimes trod on his feet, giggling. They held each other close enough for their colleagues to start nudging each other and pointing. Tom didn’t care; he didn’t want the dance to end, ever. He was aware only of Mary’s perfume, the clean, shampooed scent of her shoulder length raven hair and her soft skin as he pressed his cheek against hers and whispered ‘you’re beautiful’. Mary felt a butterfly take flight inside and she slung her arms around his neck as he held her, while Bryan Ferry sung “Slave to Love”, and the evening finished with a lingering kiss.
They started going out together over the Christmas period and returned to work a couple. Both thought that working for the same company would get in the way but as Tom worked on the brokerage floor and Mary in the back-office a floor below, they rarely saw each other during the day and always had something to talk about in the evenings. Recently they’d spoken of engagement, normally after a bottle of wine but they talked of it nonetheless.
Tom let go of her hand, turned and placed his hands either side of her face as he bent to kiss her. She held his gaze as her lips parted to meet his. She felt their lips crush and she threw her arms around his neck, pulling him towards her. The kiss was passionate although love had now replaced the lust that Tom had felt that first night but she still drove him wild. He didn’t want that kiss to end, ever.
Suddenly the floor shook beneath them once again; another explosion. The heat and smoke were becoming unbearable and the couple parted. Tom placed his cheek next to hers and whispered ‘I love you’, and Mary heard, above the noise and chaos she heard. She pulled away and mouthed ‘I love you too’ back to him. He felt tears sting his eyes as he smiled at her, drinking in her beauty in the late summer sunshine. Then they turned.
They stood side by side, hand in hand. Mary could feel Tom’s hand squeezing hers, letting her know, without words, that they were one, a couple, and were in this together. They stood, eyes closed and he gave her hand one last, tight squeeze. They stepped off; into nothing and into forever.
Recently I read an article on 9/11, about those that became known as ‘the jumpers’; those men and women that chose to jump from the Twin Towers instead of burn. It’s estimated some 200 people jumped before the towers collapsed. In fact the images of those men and women are some of the clearest memories I have of the tragic events of that day.
I didn’t know this before reading but America in the main has tried to forget the fact that people jumped, because that would be considered suicide and that is contrary to God’s law. I like to think instead that it was God and God’s love which gave them the initiative and courage to find that second way, knowing there was no way out.
There seems to be a shadowy recollection of a man and woman jumping together but I can’t be sure after 12 1/2 years. The possibility of a couple jumping together, finding strength in each other at the very last, pulls my heart strings, very tightly.
I don’t do dedications, as they seem (to me) a somewhat futile exercise. However, the events of that day in which 2’977 people lost their lives, between NY, Pennsylvania and The Pentagon, were so great that no-one remained untouched. To all of those lost, and especially to the 200 who found the courage to take that final step.