…once and forever upon an endless plain traversed endlessly by a soul screaming and contained within another soul once loved…
…once and forever…
2026-09-11 – NYC – STATE Bar & Grill – BEN and LAURA (20s) at a table as—
“That’s what you wanted to tell me, that you don’t fucking love me anymore? Jesus Christ. Un-fucking-believable.”
“It’s not that I don’t love you, just that—”
“You’re breaking up with me.”
“—that people grow apart, Ben. We always knew it could happen.”
“You met someone! Fuck. I knew it. That’s what I always knew. You know what else? We picked our kids’ names, Laura. By the fucking river…”
“We were sixteen.”
“I can’t believe I drove all the way from Ohio for this shit. Fuck my life.”
“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone.”
Ben smashes his fist on the table, then stuffs it into his mouth—crying. He stands (people staring… whispering…) and runs toward the elevators.
”Ben, I didn’t—
Ben entered the Greyhound with a hat pulled low over his forehead, eyes down, and a bandaged hand. Blood seeping through. He made his way to the back and found an empty spot beside a dark-skinned brunette.
“No, please,” she said.
He noticed the girl had slid a large case into the space in front of her and put her feet on it, giving her the peculiar appearance of a perched bird. When she noticed Ben looking, she—
“Please, it’s fine,” he said.
Just then, a NYC cop got on the bus.
Ben held his breath.
The cop looked the bus up and down a few times before saying, “Listen, folks. If any of you sees somethin’ suspicious, you tell the driver. OK?”
The cop got off the bus, the engine roared and the bus pulled away.
Ben watched out the window.
He thought that the girl was cute but nervous. He tried several times to talk to her, even flirt a little, but she wasn’t cooperative. After a while she started softly singing to herself and checking her phone.
Her face looked illuminous in the sunlight.
“You alright?” Ben asked.
Whatever the girl was saying, it wasn’t in English. They passed the Empire State Building, cordoned off with yellow tape.
“Allahu akbar,” she said—
Helicopter footage of the charred remains of what was once a bus:
“…what appears to have been a series of near-simultaneous explosions targeting public transportation systems across the country, in what the White House has called ‘an unprecedented terrorist attack’ on the twenty-fifth anniversary of 9/11.”
—mean to hurt you!”
LAURA runs after BEN toward a glass wall overlooking the city.
To her surprise, he does. “Well, you did. You did fucking hurt me.”
He lunges at her—
Grabs her head and rams it into the glass.
“Please,” she gargles.
until her face is gone,
and the city looms, red and unvanquished.