Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Things They Left Behind

A short story by Stephen King from his collection, 'Just After Sunset'. The story is about an insurance under-writer named Scott Staley who works in an insurance company called Light and Bell on the one hundred and tenth floor in the World Trade Centre. On the fateful day in September 2001, he is plain lazy to go to work and bunks that day only to learn that none of his colleagues survived. Few days after the incident, he finds little things belonging to each of his colleagues, that he remembers from his office, start to show around his flat and whisper all the time. Once, he even decides to throw them away so he collects them and throws them in the trash can but when he returns home, they are there again. A well written story. Some of the passages:
"And I remember smiling at what she asked me: 'Are you safe?'It reminded me of that movie, not Jeremy Irons' or James Mason's 'Lolita' (thinking about Lolita, sometimes at two in the morning, came later) but the one where Laurence Olivier does the impromptu dental work on Dustin Hoffman, asking him over and over again, 'Is it safe?' (from 'Marathon Man')."....
"The relief of seeing him holding the sunglasses and looking at them, almost studying them, was like having someone scratch that exact place between your shoulder blades that itches"......
"When something goes wrong in your life and you need to talk about it, I think that the first impulse for most people is to call a family member".....
"I remembered her once telling me that 'Alice in Wonderland' was the first psychedelic novel".....
"How much of what they call 'survivor guilt' are you feeling?"...

The only salvation Staley experiences is when he starts giving away those things of the dead people to their near ones and relatives that they stop coming back to his apartment. One of the left over things is a clump of his colleagues' hair that is burnt and is smelling of jet fuel. That is his compensation for surviving.
The story gets an A-.

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