"Whoís walking who?"
We tromped across the causeway to Little Neck; the marsh to our right, the ocean to our left, a beautiful day; breezy, still cool. Most of the summer houses were empty. Our friend Ellen was on the hillside, mowing. We waved. She waved back. In front of the community house an empty trash can lay tipped over on its side. Georgia picked it up and sat it by the front door. The lid was nowhere in sight.
The inlet was smooth as glass; sky and clouds reflected on its surface. A sliver of sand bar, sculpted into undulating ridges, ran down the center like a crease. On the opposite shore a pair of deer gingerly tiptoed toward the water. We watched until they changed their minds, turned, and headed back into the trees.
The dog pulled and I said, "Stop that."
In front of us the big hill loomed. I started up it. Georgia huffed and puffed behind me. The road was even. I looked out over the bluff to admire the view. The beach, the water, the sky. Pearly beige, steely gray-green, robinís egg blue. I glanced back to see how Georgia was doing.
And then I fell. I fell down as if something had pushed me, as if it had hit me from behind and knocked me over. I landed on the palm of my left hand. The pavement stung.
"Are you all right?" Georgia said.
I sat, embarrassed, with my knees pulled up, leaning on my smarting palm.
"Can you get up?"
"I need another minute."
The pain came in a wave; my hand, my ankle, my shoulder. I had been walking, enjoying the view seconds before, and then I was on the ground. I hadnít tripped or stumbled or slid. I simply, inexplicably, fell.
"You sure youíre okay?" Georgia asked.
"Yep. Iím fine. How stupid of me."
I checked the asphalt; no loose stones, no sand, no cracks. Nothing.
We took our time walking home, chatting until we reached my house and separated. I opened the door and unleased the dog. He pushed past me and dove for his water bowl. The phone rang. I picked it up.
"Mom. Have you been watching TV?"
Before I could answer, my daughter said, "I was on the phone with one of my clients. There was a noise and then she said, Thatís odd, thereís confetti swirling by my window. Then I could hear screams and the phone went dead. Oh, Mom..."
"Where?" I asked. "When?"
"New York City. About a half an hour ago."
I turned on the TV. The upper floors of the tower in the foreground were smoking. An airplane flew in from the right. It banked and hit the other tower from behind; it disappeared, buried in the column of metal and glass. I stood and watched. My palm hurt. My ankle hurt. I waited, watching the smoking towers, until they fell down.