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Perspective

The day and its events incite the same feelings in everyone.  September 11, 2001 is remembered as being painful, overwhelmingly sad, and hopeless.  In spite of everyone feeling the same way about 9/11 – no one short of those who caused it would see the day’s events as joyous or happy – the degree of pain and the perspective varies.  Someone who watched from a TV screen thousands of miles away does not remember 9/11 the same way someone who lost a relative remembers 9/11.  Someone who was very young might not remember the fall of the Twin Towers as vividly as someone who was much older.

Ana Kovatcheva’s September is similar in that it allows perspective to vary.  While there’s no arguing that it is a depressing story, there are different interpretations of it.  Some things are concrete: there is an insurance salesman named Joshua, a woman named Isabella, and the fact that they were both involved in September 11th somehow.  That’s all readers are given.  From there, they are left to form their own decisions about how Joshua and Isabella’s story ended, or, depending on some interpretations, how it began.

“They catch sight of each other at four hundred sixty-six miles per hour, or at the speed where four hundred sixty-six suddenly turns to zero in a burst of broken glass and burning support beams.  She is strapped into seat 8J and he is at a desk on the ninety-fifth floor.  The nose of the plane nudges the window, and in the moment before his neck snaps and the cabin bursts open, the window of 8J passes by his desk” (10).  Or, do they meet “on a dreary February afternoon in a cafe far from New York” (10)?

As the story ends, Isabella has just missed her flight to Los Angeles and Joshua is sitting at the kitchen table watching the news, laughing at her for not being able to catch her plane in time.  When the story breaks that a plane has been hijacked, they realize just how close they came to death that morning.  Then, however, we return to the scene of their deaths.  “Outside of this geometric instant, the window for 8J passes a man’s desk at four hundred sixty-six miles per hour. It keeps going” (14).

The story gives visitors a choice: They have to decide whether Joshua and Isabella were two people who met just moments before their deaths on September 11th or if they were two people who narrowly avoided death on September 11th.

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