10:58.

Working.

Fingers flying over the laptop keyboard.

A message pops up on Facebook:

“Are you ready for the siren?”

“Yes.”

But that’s not true: I’m never ready for the siren, for that sound that shakes the senses, that snaps us to attention as we stand to remember those too-many people who should be here to stand with us, but aren’t.

10:59.

Outside, I can hear them arguing, three construction workers on the roof under a pitiless sun.

“No, what are you crazy? Let me show you how it’s done.” He lights his cigarette.

“Get up, it’s almost time.”

And then:

The siren: Horrible and humbling, some sounds shouldn’t be heard, but must.

Imagine the too-many screams of every mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt and cousin; of every wife, of every husband, of every child; of every best friend who stood before an open grave and thought seriously for a split second about jumping in, imagine these screams mixed down into one keening wail.

That’s what it sounds like.

And we all stand – In the room, beyond the window, beyond the street below, beyond the new buildings being built in this country that is built on the lives of those who have given up their lives so that we may stand here to remember.
We are a work in progress, and we’re working hard to do our part to shape this country, to make this country strong and safe so the list of those we mourn will not grow any longer.

11:02. And with a gasp, the siren ends.

The workers on the roof shift. One takes a drag from the cigarette still in his hand. Another wipes his brow.

“Yaala, hand me that wrench. Let’s get back to work. We have a lot to do.”