There was a man who loved a woman. The woman spent her days in airplanes crisscrossing time zones. The man admired the woman’s confidence as she moved through the cabin sliding a dignified hand along the overhead compartments.
For many years her job had satisfied her need of companionship. She lingered in cafes with her colleagues, read difficult books in her limited free time. Her biological clock measured the years, but she felt no maternal tug at her heart.
For the man there could be no other. Attracted by her independence, and of course, her beauty, he courted her slowly; made few demands on her freedom. From Tuesday through Saturday the woman bisected the clouds. The man made the necessary adjustment to accommodate missing her.
After much consideration the woman agreed to marry the man, and they began to plan vacations at the same time, at the same place. Unencumbered by school routines, they chose September as their month of retreat to sun warmed sand, and rhythmic waves. The man looked forward to this time when the woman was at his side for weeks without end.
One September 10th the man and the woman travelled by car to their beach house. On September 11, the first day of their vacation, departing the house for the beach, they made the radical decision to leave their cell phones in the house.
The day had slipped to twilight before they returned. A dozen messages flashed on the answering machine, dozens more on voice mail, streaked with tears: “Did you pick up a last minute flight? Please call.” “Please call.”
The man studied the woman’s face marred by panic. She did not wish to be held. She dialed familiar numbers: “Please call, she said.” “Please call.”
In honor of her fallen colleagues with whom she’d shared many years before the man, she vowed never to fly that date again. Each September the man shares the woman with ghosts, but there she is, by his side.
An imagined story that is probably true. In remembrance.