Eight years later Chloe, who is one, tries to wriggle around the barricade of big toys I’ve put in the way of the television plugs as I change the channel from what’s new in fashion this fall (grommets and pleather and plaid!) to MSNBC. I’d forgotten what day it is until now. One tower is left standing in the dust of the other, and Katie Couric says there are reports of a car bomb at the state department. A banner at the bottom of the screen indicates this is a replay of the 2001 September 11th coverage in real time. Eight years later. Just when I’m thinking it’s impossible to experience it the same way ever again – I know too much and I know how it ends – I gasp when the last tower buckles, wearily folds into itself, and gains momentum in the tremendous, outward stalking cloud of its demise. Like a movie, we can watch it again and again, the whole thing, in real time. Like a movie we’ve already seen, we can cringe and wish for the plot to evolve in a different direction even when we know that’s impossible. Tom Brokaw says this is a proclamation of war, that important people are being whisked to bunkers, that Airforce One will have military escorts. Other reports of other car bombs and hijackings come in, and Tom Brokaw, or maybe it’s Matt Lauer, I’m distracted by the visuals, the camera fixed on the empty spaces, explains he doesn’t mean to alarm but so many of the alarming reports they’ve heard have come true. I find myself watching just like I’d watched the first time to see if they’re right. Even though I already know. It’s a strange thing, the way you can get so lost in the horror, fiction or not, all over again. It’s a strange thing, how you can forget what day it is.

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