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Fourth Avenue & 12th Street

by Myat Thi Ha.

A typical autumn morning with coffee at the dining table next to the window under a crisp indigo sky. The most peaceful of mornings until the huge iron windows rattled in their frames and moments later an engulfing shadow. An instant eclipse. Reading the tail number on a mammoth polished airship which seemed to be only meters away. The entire loft shook violently. A whoosh followed by silence followed by a plume of billowing smoke to the south.

Failed attempts to connect the calm morning crispness, the rattling, the passing airship, the eclipse, the plume. Life experiences did not allow such connections. Bewilderment turned to fright.

Stumbling from room to room, twisting the radio dial across the guy trying to sell me soap to sports scores to “…something is happening, but we don’t know what.” Unhelpful. Fear grew. Called J. at the UN to ask what was happening. He shared more than the radio did and fear exploded into anxiety.

Instinct said go. Bounced off walls and furniture. Lights on, lights off, stove off (was it?), faucets running, phone handset still live thrown into fridge and out the door for Grand Central. Made the last train north to the countryside.

Only upon reaching school did fellow students, faculty, counsellors share the horror. Still vague.

To this day, still vague. Two decades later, everyone has some version of my unexceptional story.

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