It's so damn quiet here.

I work in a newsroom. The last big story was the election fiasco. Especially because we're in Palm Beach County. For a month it was a constant stream of people, activity, sounds, excitement, television crews interviewing our reporters, our editor, our columnists. It was a monstrous group effort. It was "our" story. The situation changed every five minutes. We were all energized, electrified.

The World Trade Center attack (I don't even have to be that specific, do I? I could just say "this" and you'd know what I mean) - this - is different. Even after the local angles started appearing Tuesday evening and the research library had something to chew on. There are televisions on, usually, but people just look up at them briefly as they pass - none of the camaraderie of crowding around the televisions hanging from the ceiling, making fun of Bush's pronounciation or Katherine Harris' makeup.

It is eerily silent. The graying senior news staffers are stifling their usual sardonic commentary ("How can you smile like that when the republic is in danger?" I remember one saying to another, sarcastically, during the election). People avoid eye contact. Everyone is carefully neutral; no inappropriate bursts of laughter, no appropriate outbursts of rage or sorrow. People are doing their job, and I guess the only way to do that is to not react. Everyone is keeping it buried. Buried. A bad word.

I woke up in the middle of the night to mental images of the people in the windows near the jagged tear in one of the towers. And I finally realized why they jumped. Not so much the fire itself, not flames at their backs, but because they were probably being cooked alive by the sheer heat from below. Jumping was better. Would I have jumped?

I've been diverting a constant stream of AP news feeds via email to friends who don't have other information sources while at work. I could probably get fired for this but I don't care. I really don't care. Some of them are probably getting sick of me sending the information to them, but I don't care about that either. I'm not ready to let people slide back into comfortable oblivion yet.

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