Published: 11-25-05

A Lover's Knowledge

Maria waltzed over to Bryan. He smiled widely as she took him to the middle of the room.

"Maria! Not today. I have a big meeting at work and can't be late." He whined with a half smile. Maria saw through his façade.

"You can dance once with me Bryan!" Bryan grabbed her and spun her around the room in a graceful waltz. Then he switched to the tango. She smiled as the dance ended.

"I love you." She whispered into his ear.

"Right back at you babe." He smiled. She flicked him lightly on the shoulder and gave him the saddest puppy-dog-eyes she could muster.

"I mean, I love you so much honey."

They walked to the door and he pulled her into a tight hug. Maria didn't have to drive to work for another hour. That was Bryan's price for working in New York, an hour drive to the office. Bryan bent his head and kissed Maria fully. She sighed with contentment.

"I'll see you tonight." He whispered not wanting to let her go.

"You will." She reassured him. "And what a night it will be!" Bryan always had Wednesdays off work, so he could afford to stay up the night before with his wife. Bryan's face split into a mischievous grin and he left Maria at the door to their small house, whistling as he walked to the car.

Maria slowly walked to the bathroom and turned on the shower. When it was steaming she dropped her robe on the floor and stepped under the hot water. It was only seven o'clock. Bryan would be in New York by eight and in his office to call her by eight-ten. He always called. Maria was worried that the long drive to New York would end up getting him killed one day. But it hadn't yet. She smiled with much love on her face and continued her shower, wishing Bryan was with her.

Bryan pulled into the parking lot at seven-forty-five. The traffic had been surprisingly light. It was as if people had all decided to remain at home for this day of work. Bryan wished he could be home with Maria. He would give anything to have danced all day with her. But he had a meeting today. He entered the sleek building and boarded and elevator. He worked on the twenty-third floor. It was higher than he found comfortable so he avoided the windows. His desk was in the center of many cubicles. The walls were pasty blue, but he never saw them. Bryan had hung pictures of Maria on the walls and placed some on his desk. She was the inspiration to his day. Just do one more thing and then you can go home to Maria. Bryan jumped into his swivel chair and reached for the phone. It rang once.

"Hello?" Her sweet voice asked.

"Hi sweetheart."

"You're there?"

"I'm all safe and sound!"


"I have to go get ready for my meeting babe, but I'll call you at lunch. Alright?"

"Okay." She sounded dejected.

"Don't do that to me."

"Sorry Hon, I just miss you."

"I miss you too."

"Love you Bry."

"Love you to Mari."

Then they hung up. Neither had any idea of the terrors that would envelop their lives shortly. Neither could know, as only a few knew of the things to come.

Bryan gathered his papers around eight-thirty and walked to the meeting room in the back of the office. Many men sat at tables waiting for him to give the monthly report of the finance system they had just undertaken. The meeting progressed without error.

When he left the room at eight-forty-three there were many people at the windows. They were pointing and gasping. Bryan walked slowly over to them, avoiding the view of the city. He edged closer and looked up, in the direction of the pointing fingers. A plane was headed straight for the building. Bryan gasped and stepped backwards. That plane was going to crash into the tower! Bryan started towards the elevator; then changed his mind. What if the plane did crash? The power would go out and the elevator would stall. He turned towards the stairwell and then stopped at the door.

"For Christ's sake people! Do more than gawk! Run!" And he pushed open the door and ran down the stairs.

Maria showered and dressed quickly in a blue leotard, pale pink tights and a pink skirt. She pulled on her tennis shoes and grabbed her dance bag. As she drove up to the dance studio where she taught dance classes Maria's cell phone rang. She answered it happy that Bryan was safely at work.


"Hi sweetheart." She smiled at his deep vioce, so filled with love.

"You're there?"

"I'm all safe and sound!"


"I have to go get ready for my meeting babe, but I'll call you at lunch. Alright?"

"Okay." She saidsounding dejected.

"Don't do that to me."

"Sorry Hon, I just miss you."

"I miss you too."

"Love you Bry."

"Love you to Mari."

"Bye." The line went dead and Maria exited her car. She walked through the reception room of the studio and into her classroom. The air was cold from the fall night. She turned on the heater to warm it some. Her classes didn't start until nine o'clock but she had to warm up.

When Maria opened the door of her classroom at eight-forty-five she was troubled. Something didn't feel right in her heart. She looked at the clock on the wall and wondered if Bryan was out of his meeting yet. Her students filed into the room and dropped dance bags against one wall.

"Okay kids, sit down and we'll do roll call." The students consisted of three-year-olds to six-year-olds. Maria taught most of the younger children because she had more patience for them. She looked forward to that day, in eight months, when her own child would be born. She had just found out that morning. Bryan didn't even know yet.

The little girls danced as Maria commanded until the end of the class at ten o'clock. Maria felt very uneasy and longed to call Bryan. Something was wrong, she just knew it. But what was wrong, she did not know.

Bryan felt it, he felt the plane crash into the tower. It was like an earthquake, but from above. The stairwell had been well lit with florescent lights. But with the crash the lights went out. Bryan grabbed the railing as the entire building buckled. He felt the rumble passing through the floors as wood, metal and glass shattered. The doors on every landing burst open and people flooded the stairs. Many were screaming, as if their lives depended on how loud they could wail. Technically their lives did depend on it, but not yet.

Bryan surged ahead with the people he had never met, running for their lives. It was not long before they felt a second jolt go through the building. This one was fainter and had less of an impact on the building.

"The other tower!" A man yelled, running into the stairwell. "The other tower has been hit!" Shouts went out. People were afraid of what was happening. Hell, Bryan was afraid.

As he came to the fourth floor the people were literally blocking the way out. There were so many employees here that they could not all get out of the stair doors at the same time. Bryan did not push. He knew that everyone was just as eager to get out as he was. Bryan did not push. Bryan did not push, until the walls started to groan. The people glanced at the walls with worried expressions. Then the jolt came.

Bryan looked up. The stairs were filled with people wanting out. Bryan looked past the people's scared faces to the newly created ceiling. The stairs had gone up much further than they did before the plane crashed. What Bryan saw in that newly made ceiling horrified him. It was falling. Little pieces of the floor were falling down. The building could not hold the airplane. Bryan grew even more horrified, if that was possible. He turned and joined in the yelling at the people holding up the line.

The people pushed out of the building and into the street, only to stop and look at the ruins of their beautiful towers. Bryan was so close to the door. But that door was not close enough for him to get out.

Maria had an hour free from eleven till twelve. She turned on the radio and froze at the words.

"The scene at the World Trade Center today is a horrifying and humbling one. I report to you from the streets in front of what was the north and south towers. It is a sad day for all of New York, to see her proudest buildings fall. The chaos here is unbelievable. News is still unknown about why these planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Further news will be posted online at…" Maria paled. Did they just say that the World Trade Center was attacked? The place that Bryan worked at? Maria dropped her mug of coffee and ran to her shelf where her purse sat, not caring that the mug had shattered and the coffee was running all over the floor. She dialed the number of Bryan's cell phone into hers and listened to it ring.

One ring…two rings…three rings…four rings…five rings.

"Hello, this is Bryan."

"Bryan! Are you-"

"I can't get to my phone at this time. Please leave a message or call back later. Thanks. Bye." Maria almost threw the phone at the wall. She hung up and turned to the door. Her friend and college, Clair Wescott was looking at her.

"What's wrong Maria?"

"Turn on the radio. Call the children's parents! There has been a disaster." Clair turned to her classroom and turned the radio on. She turned pale and looked back at Maria.

"Tom works in New York!"

The children were gathered into one classroom and a movie was put on to keep them distracted. The teachers rushed around, trying to call parents and keep the children calm. Maria did her duty to the children and then returned to her classroom. She dialed Bryan's number again. One ring…two rings…three rings…four rings…five rings.

"Hello, this is Bryan. I can't get to my phone at this time. Please leave a message or call back later. Thanks. Bye."

"Bryan? Baby, if you get this please call me. I don't know what to do. I know that you are okay. You have to be okay. Call me. Love you."

Maria hung up the phone with grim determination. Bryan was alright. He had to be.

Bryan burst onto the street with an uneasy feeling. He turned back to the building with a feeling of joy mingled with fear and disgust. That is when it happened. The tower wavered. The South Tower had already fallen. It lay in rubbles at the feet of the people of New York. There were voices coming from its depths. Bryan knew that people were trapped. He looked at the North Tower. His eye caught on something falling from a window. It appalled him when he realized that it was a person. He shut his eyes but could not shut his ears as the man hit the ground with a sickening squelch. Why would a person jump out of the window? Why? Just to kill himself and end any possible chance he might have of survival?

Bryan turned and ran from the gruesome scene in front of him. He needed to get away! Suddenly he heard his cell phone ring. As he reached down it stopped. Then came the telltale beep of a message. He flipped open the top of the phone when he finally stopped to rest with his back to the horror of the towers. The message blared into his ear.

"Bryan? Baby, if you get this please call me. I don't know what to do. I know that you are okay. You have to be okay. Call me. Love you." Maria! Maria was okay! Of course she was okay. She was not in New York, she was safe. He dialed the number. It was answered on the first ring.



"Oh God Bryan! You're okay."

"Yes. I'm fine. I'm out of the towers. Baby, I'm okay." He was not. Although his physical being was unharmed, his soul was tattered.

"Honey? You need to get out of there."

"I know."

"Bryan, I knew you were alive. I just knew it."

"Barely. But yes I am alive."


"Yes Maria?" He said with some exhaustion.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"I want you to always know that."

"I do."

"Always. That is the most important thing for you to know. I will always love you."