Stephen King * The things they left behind Short Story

Half way through the book I realized I was reading a story about a 9/11 World Trade Center survivor who either suffered from a terrible case of Survivor’s Guilt or was haunted by the people who he worked with that had died in the terrible tragedy that shook America. This story was adapted into a movie in 2011.

MV5BMjM2MjY0NDkyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDI0ODYyNTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpgThe story:

Scott Staley moves into a new apartment and he meets his gorgeous and sexy neighbour who insists she is married to a man we never see (looks like a front so she won’t have to date any guy coming up to her).
Scott helps her when a pipe bursts and he is happy he found a new friend only to be shocked when he returns back to his appartment and finds a pair of heart-shaped glasses waiting for him. And a baseball bat. And a coin in a cube. And a conk shell. And an Alice in Wonderland statue made from porcelain. All of these items are intimately linked to his former coworkers who died in the 9/11 crash.

This story is not gruesome due to the haunting but due to the vivid depiction of how people died in the tragedy.. from a woman jumping off the 101st floor primly holding her skirt down and looking like everything would be fine to the guy who went under his desk with his hair on fire knowing that he would give every penny he had to live another day so he could mow his lawn.

“The place was full of screams, he could smell jet fuel, and he knew it was his dying hour. Do you understand that? Do you understand the enormity of that?”

Story was so-so as it did not seem to explain why Staley got all of these items (and especially why now of all times) and no explanation of what he would do with them.
The story ends with him calling one of his coworkers widow and telling her he found a conk shell in his cupboard and wondering whether she would want a memento of her dead husband. Seems to me he was up to re-opening barely closed wounds…

Rating: 2/5

Worst bits: 

Discussing Lolita (the movie) with the guys on the stairs. The heart-shaped glasses weren’t needed in this story unless there was a better background story as to why his female co-worker got them as  “bitter” divorce present. Was she very young?

Best bits:

“The politicians talk about memorials and courage and wars to end terrorism, but burning hair is apolitical.” She bore her teeth into an unspeakable grin. A moment later it was gone. “He tried to crawl under his desk with his hair on fire. There was a plastic thing under his desk, a… a what-do-you-call-it, a…”

“A mat?”

“Yes, a mat, a plastic mat, his hands were on that and he could feel the ridges in the plastic and the smell of his own burning hair. Do you understand that?”

I nodded, starting to cry.” 

011 WTC South Tower Falling.jpg

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