Author : Cactus101
A/N - It felt so good to have my muse reawaken after such a lengthy hiatus. Yes, it has been years. Between work, life and the fact that TW was cancelled, I had forgotten how much I needed to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to get some of my thoughts and emotions out into the open.
This story was inspired by two things; my own real life experience when viewing an old home movie taken just before 9/11 and the short story, 'The Dead', by James Joyce.
This may end up being a multi chapter story, but for now my muse is happy with this as a stand-alone. Enjoy.
Disclaimers: I don't own any part of Third Watch or 'The Dead' by James Joyce
Barely a few months ago, I watched Charlie and Emily running through the park; it was Charlie's birthday. Faith didn't plan a party but I showed up anyway with some ice cream and a small gift. Charlie high fived me before ripping through my crude wrapping and discovering a couple of miniature cars, just like the ones I adored as a kid.
Faith looked on proudly as Charlie raced around the apartment, one car in each hand, both arms battling for the lead. She had decided it was time to head to the park when Emily joined in the fun and knick knacks started to mysteriously fall from their perch in the living room. I watched the horrified looks on the children's faces as the items toppled to the floor and then the absolute relief when they realized they were still, incredibly, intact. I caught a sideways look from Faith who was trying not to laugh while looking stern and trying to get the kids to behave.
As we stepped out of the building, we could feel the humidity wrapping itself around us and the heat threatening to smoother the air out of our lungs. It was the end of August and the summer was in no hurry to end. The grey skies were menacing, and they looked like they could open up at any time. The rain would have been a welcome respite to the sweat starting to glue our clothes to our bodies.
The park was swarming with parents and children eager to escape the heat of their apartments. You could hear laughter and crying, singing and yelling all mixing into the background noise of the car horns and vehicles on the street. The teenage boys were off to the side playing hoops and insulting each other. The mothers were sitting on the park benches, one eye on their youngsters and the other on their watches. Life still had to be timed.
I'm brought back to that day by a small note I fish out of my pocket. I stop in my tracks, on the landing overlooking the precinct when I realize it was put there by Charlie. I smile as I notice his crooked handwriting which despite his best efforts doesn't quite stay within the lines. I finger the folds in the page to flatten it out before reading the note. 'Dear uncle Bos, tank you for the ice creem and the kars. The blu one is my favrit. Love Charlie.'
I reread it over and over again, gently whispering the words, hoping that making them real will bring back the world I knew.
I remember that day as perfect, despite the heat and the greyness, recognizing it as such only now, after the fact, after my mind and spirit have been infected by this unknown evil. Seeing each moment for what it really was, a time of innocence lost, fleeting and ephemeral, to be recalled but never felt again. Watching the children with a lightness of spirit and enjoying Faith's company without a care for crashing planes and falling buildings. I long to turn back the clock so I could go back to worrying about issues which seem so trivial now.
The memories of these small moments have been pushed aside in the never ending search for bodies and terrorists. Leisure moments have been replaced by funerals and visits to widows. I am frozen by this remembrance and I am unable to move forward or back, both literally and figuratively. I am stuck in the shadow of the present as I suffer the loss of my own innocence and naiveté which I didn't even know I had until this very instant.
I scan the room and the realization dawns on me that everyone around me has suffered the same loss and probably doesn't know it yet.
I swallow hard as I spot Faith staring up at me from the bottom of the stairway. Sound and motion seem to swirl around her but she exudes an unnerving stillness. Our eyes lock and her intense gaze makes me question whether she can read my mind. Can she tell that right here, right now, I have understood that I have lost something precious and irreplaceable?
I see the precinct before me but my mind looks back at the memory of that day. A day which seems so distant, like an old black and white photograph, the kind you see on those PBS documentaries. The camera zooming in on the silent faces full of hope and promise, knowing they are long gone and all their dreams scattered into history.
I see who we were before that fateful day and it is like gazing at those black and white photos, like staring at the images of the dead.
I stand as a witness in a room full of dead spirits. When I look back down I see that Faith has turned away and is speaking to Lieu. I unconsciously crumple the note from Charlie and toss it into the waste paper basket. Reading that note is like dreaming of the dead, only to realize it was just a dream and the dead are just that and the world I knew is gone forever.