The smell of burnt brownies filled the room. Lucy rushed to her mum’s side. She sat on the arm of the sofa, frozen, hand at her mouth. A red tea towel gripped in the other. As Lucy took the tea towel out of her mum’s hand, she watched a woman jump from the tall building, backlit with blue sky and billowing smoke. The camera panned down and as quickly it moved back up, to track another person as he stood on a ledge. The ledge was one floor above the remnants of an aeroplane that shouldn't have been in the building. She held her mother’s hand as he turned his back to the outside world and fell into the smoke and misfiled papers.
Lucy’s hand began to hurt, until the fire alarm pulled her mother back into the room. Mrs McKenzie – Lin – seemed to suddenly realise that Lucy was holding her hand. That she was watching the people jump.
“Mummy, why are they jumping?” she whispered, rubbing her hand gently.
“Lucy. My darling Lucy Goosey.” her mum seemed lost for a moment as she thought. “Lucy, they have hope.”
Lucy had never forgotten her mother’s explanation for why people jumped from the top floors of the twin towers. It hadn’t made any sense to her even at the age of eight. She had helped her mother put the burnt brownies into the sink. She’d turned the water on and the steam had risen as the baking tin creaked and cracked. After her mum had reset the fire alarm, she had sent Lucy out to play. When Lucy, James and Matty peeked into the lounge window, she saw her mum and theirs watching the movie again. In that moment Lucy saw her as both young and old. At that moment they realised that the world was bigger than their neighbourhood in London. And that from that day on, their lives would be slightly different than they would have been had the planes not flown into the tower blocks. Lucy sat with her friends on the front steps of the Victorian Terrace. They had had dinner and were now waiting for their fathers to get home. Mr Hussein would arrive first from Great Ormond Street Hospital, stop the car and scoop Matty up. James’ dad would come home from the National Library, he’d walk up from the Underground Station and hand them both a lollypop from the red caravan on the pavement. Finally Lucy would wait on her own, backlit by the outside light until her dad, Daniel, came home.
That night it was different. Their fathers came home at the same time, almost as if they had been somewhere together. There was no scooping, no lollypops, just a tension. An unspoken wariness and relief that their families were ok. Lucy followed her dad indoors and waited at the living room door as he held her mum close. He spoke only briefly of the loss of American colleagues in the Twin Towers and of the fact that this was going to lead to a war. Lucy wondered how the towers had been born together and how they had fallen together. It was a strange image and she giggled quietly as she left them to their grown up fears.
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