She knew what heartbreak sounded like from television and it scared the shit out of her. She chose not to watch the evening news anymore. When she ate dinner she watched Jeopardy and said the answers out loud in her empty kitchen. When she folded laundry she sat on the floor with the pile of clothes and stroked the linens. She paired socks. She folded towels in half and stacked them up beside her. From the floor, she could see the Empire State Building. It rose in her window like a charmed snake, suspended stiff above the city.
It was May. She had eaten dinner in silence and retrieved the laundry from the drier. She beamed at the building and suddenly felt needy. She knew all of this by heart. Regardless, she pressed a hand against the window and stationed her pelvis west, rubbing her face against the tempered glass. Her breath clung to the condensation and spread against the glass like ivy. The past was past. Echoless, meaningless, her breast, her lashes on the clear surface. She blinked, focused and refocused. “Just stay there,” she murmured. The steel blinked and she closed her lips, its tall frame froze in her landscape.
This is not panoramic. This is not something everlasting. Her warm breath sent opaque clouds towards the window and she knew then that the present was something that could not be counted on– not for pleasure, but not even for pain.
She creased her lips. She looked into the unstarry light. The street-lamps were forgotten. The traffic lights glowed. Somewhere, someone groaned. If she had turned on the tv, she would have heard heartbreak. Unequivocal, empty and self-loathing heartbreak. She sat on the floor, folding white shirts at ninety degree angles, hoping she might fold herself into what she used to be.
When the first building fell she was folding laundry. She didn’t see it, but she heard it, and watched as the Empire State Building quivered from the mighty fall. All along the streets of New York City the pavement shuddered with the impact. She felt the vibration before she saw the smoking heap on the television. Her phone rang. On television, tiny people fell from windows.
Slide guitar tears dribbled down her chin. He was in the second building, calling her from his cellphone. “Dear, don’t worry,” she spoke calmly into the phone. The line went dead. He called back soon. “I do,” and shouting in the background, “I truly.” He openly wept. The line went dead and she felt another vibration.
She will not lose another building. She will not lose another sock. The Empire State Building will eventually vanish, it will fade into the skyline as more buildings are erected in New York. Many more will replace it in height, in magnitude. But it will not be lost.