But I did read it. It's good. Colin writes like I wish I could--simply, yet elegantly. I picked one thing out of it that I'll share with you. It isn't giving so much away to say that the story is about a young woman who is cheating on her lover on 9/11, while he's dying in the World Trade Center. Years later, she's talking with her therapist:
"This nice young man was killed by terrorists. Crazy people got airplanes and flew them into buildings and killed thousands of people, and one of them was Paul. While this happened, you did something you're not too proud of. But it didn't kill anybody. Separate these two things."
"Ego te absolvo. You didn't kill him. You already suffered enough to make up for twenty, two hundred, two thousand crimes like the one you committed. And we don't have a lot of time to spend on it, because you've got a bigger problem. Paul is, forgive me please, the guilt for Paul is like a fractured wrist, and meanwhile you need a heart-lung transplant."
"What do you mean?"
"You're sick in your soul. Very terribly sick. I should probably send you to a psychiatrist who would give you some pills, so you would not be so scared all the time, but the pills will not get into your soul, so you would still be sick. Can you stand to be sick for a little while longer?" (McEnroe)
Somewhere, deep in the farthest recesses of our collective American soul, we're guilty. September 11th was somehow our fault. We dropped the ball. We spent a decade on frivolous pursuits, too absorbed in pleasure, money, sex scandals and stock options that we forgot about the outside world. We were too naive, we elected Bill Clinton, we weren't smart enough, we weren't secure enough, we let too much slide... and we got hit.
We should have seen it coming. Why didn't we see it coming? It's our fault. We need to be fixed, so it won't happen again. We need more security, harsher responses, aggressive foriegn policy, pre-emptive wars, camps in Cuba. We need to change. We have changed.
But the therapist, who is not an American, is right. On September 11th, 2001, crazy men flew airplanes into buildings.
They were mad. It wasn't our fault.
It wasn't. But our souls are still sick. We haven't healed, despite everything we've done. It's still eating at us, still driving us away from who we were before the attacks.
"So," Sponza said when next they met. She was absurdly happy to see him. "What do you want?"Where is the way out of our guilt, our fear?
"I want to stop being afraid. I want my stomach not to hurt."
He shook his head. "No, no. That is not what you want. That is just all you can see. (McEnroe)
Maybe there isn't one.
Terrible things happen, sometimes for no reason we can understand. In the end, all we can do is beat back the fear, live our American lives, and try not to let the actions of madmen destroy what is best about us.
McEnroe, Colin. "Missing Person." Northeast Magazine (Hartford Courant), 10 September, 2006.