The Falling Towers

Author:Alie Vogelaar
Retail Price:$10.95
Grade Level:3-5

From the Back Cover:
September 11, 2001… The attack on New York City. In the chaos, two young people have been separated from each other. The sudden loss of loved ones brings sorrow, but other empty places are filled again. Eddie also has to learn that there is another high unbending tower that still must fall.

(Ages 10-18)

1. A Surprise

Eddie reached the stage and remained standing in front of his chair, the tassel on his cap swinging back and forth in front of his eyes. He grinned at the other boys. They all looked comical in their flowing gowns. At last this evening had come–their high school graduation! Eddie was with thirty other students. The boys’ gowns were blue; the girls’ were white. Just a few minutes before, they all had solemnly walked in to the rhythm of the graduation march, and now they stood waiting for the signal to be seated.

Eddie looked around searchingly, scanning the faces to see if he could spot his mother among all the people. So many faces!

All at once his eyes spotted somebody. He looked in amazement. Who was that sitting next to his mother? It couldn’t be! Was it Lydia? Wasn’t she supposed to be in New York?

Yes! It was Lydia! All those blond curls…. He surely couldn’t mistake them!

She saw that he had noticed her, and she smiled and quickly waved her hand. His mother was sitting next to her, her face beaming. So–she was behind all this. Of course, Lydia had wanted to surprise him. It certainly had worked!

He was so surprised that he almost missed the signal to be seated. That Lydia! He would definitely ask her how she figured all this out. Now he had better pay attention to all the scheduled speakers. Of course, he was happy and thankful he had been able attend a Christian school. He and the other students should never forget all their studies. Who was talking, anyway? He did not recognize the speaker. He must be a member of the Board. His thoughts began to wander as they drifted back to his life in New York. For many years he had attended the same school as Lydia. Things went fine until two boys had made life very miserable for him. Then he and his mother had moved to this area. Here their life was entirely different from what it had been in the big city. He and his mother had never regretted that they had moved here.

Lydia had been his neighbor in New York and had lived in the apartment next to his. They had been very good friends. He had always thought she was different from the other girls, who seemed so bold. Sometimes they would go shopping together, since she did not like to go alone. She had a very difficult life, though. He thought about her father who was always drunk.

Now he was sitting there dreaming when he should be listening to the speakers. Another milestone, the principal of the school was saying. Of course, it was true. Eddie was glad high school was behind him. Only a few more years of study, and then he could go to work. It would be nice to earn some money so he could help his mother, who had cared for him all these years. Another thought crossed his mind as he sat reminiscing. His father! He was probably sitting somewhere in this auditorium, too. Rather unwillingly, he glanced over the rows of people, but he could not see him anywhere. That was not so bad; he did not have a desire to see him anyway. Father had left his mother after he was born. All those years they had had to try to manage without him. Now Eddie wondered if his father had regrets for what he had done in the past, and he had tried to get in contact with them again. Well, Eddie certainly wasn’t looking forward to that.

All at once he realized that they had to stand, and that his mind had been everywhere but on his graduation exercises.

He listened as the names were called. One by one the students walked to the lectern, where the principal was standing with a stack of diplomas. Soon it would be his turn.

“Eddie Macleod.” That was him!

He walked forward, was congratulated by several individuals, and received his diploma, as well as a thick book. Following him, several more went forward, and at last they all were standing together again in a row.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the Class of 2001.”

There was a loud applause. With a wave of hands, they all switched their tassels to the other side. Now they were graduated. So many more congratulations were extended that Eddie could hardly keep all his thoughts together. The high school years were now past. He was looking forward to going to college in the fall.

A shadow swept over his face. He knew he would have to meet his father soon, because he was going to pay his college tuition. When he had first heard this, he had wanted no part of it. And really, he still did not want the money, but his mother had insisted. “You should not treat your father like that,” she had said.

“After all, he’s still your father.”

Someone else had said the same thing in a quiet, feminine way: “He’s still your father, Eddie.” Yes, Lydia had said that, and now she was here too.

Once again he looked over the crowd. Lydia and his mother were sitting close to the front. How nice! He couldn’t wait to ask her how she had managed to be here!

They were standing in a long line.

“Congratulations, Ed!” exclaimed his mother, and she made his face wet with her tears as she kissed him. Was this really something to cry about? He coughed and then swallowed.

There was Lydia!

“How did you get here?” he exclaimed.

Her face was beaming as she looked at him and said, “I’ll tell you sometime.”

She began to blush, and suddenly she seemed a little bashful, but she had to keep walking because a long line of people was behind her. Another hand…


“Thank you, thank you.”

Hands were reaching out to him. He wondered how much longer this would last. But the other students were still patiently standing there, so he had better, too.

Someone else came towards him. It was his father. His dark eyes searched Eddie’s face.

“Eddie! Congratulations!”

He grasped Eddie’s hand, giving him a firm handshake. Eddie murmured, “Thank you,” and immediately looked at the next person who was waiting to congratulate him. He felt something being pressed into his hand, and saw, out of the corner of his eye, that his mother received a handshake as well, and an envelope. Then his father walked on. As he moved out of sight, Eddie wondered where he was going.

“Congratulations, Ed!”

Those were his aunts and uncles.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said.

Of course, his cousins were there, too. “Yes, thank you, thank you, man,” he said. “It’s nice that you came.”

Next came his grandparents.

“Boy…”Another firm handshake. “We hope the Lord will go with you into the future, Ed,” said his grandpa.

He got a wet kiss from his grandma, who had tears running down her cheeks. She, too? Why? For a second, he thought maybe she had been thinking about his earlier years, too, just as he had been.

Later in the evening, they were all sitting in the backyard–aunts and uncles as well as several of the nieces and nephews. Mother had ordered a large cake, and everyone had a piece. The weather was still very nice. Alight evening breeze came over the fields and took away the heat and the dust of the day.

It was very nice to sit together and watch the sun go down behind the woods on the hill, but Eddie still hadn’t had time to talk with Lydia. He hadn’t spoken to her for such a long time, and now there was no opportunity. What if she had to leave again tonight? No, that wasn’t possible, because there weren’t many trains leaving at night. He glanced at her as she was talking with a couple of the cousins. Her blond curls were still as beautiful and shiny as ever. It made him feel warm inside. But how foolish to think that way!

All at once, Lydia was standing in front of him.

“I’m sleeping at your grandma and grandpa’s, Ed,” she said. “I have to go back the day after tomorrow.”

“How are you going back?”

“Oh, with the train–it’s very easy.”

“Will I see you tomorrow, then?”

“Would you like that?”

Like that? What kind of a question was that? Eddie felt all warm inside again. How foolish he was! Here he was stumbling over his words as if he had never talked with Lydia before.

“Let’s go horseback riding tomorrow,” he said quickly.

“Wonderful! A long ride sounds like fun!” she nodded enthusiastically. “I never have any time for that anymore.”

“No, of course not,” he grinned. “Certainly not in that smelly city!”

Lydia just shook her head.

“Still don’t like it, huh?” she smiled.

“But, Lydia, how did you know?”

“Shall I save that story for tomorrow?” she interrupted quickly. “I have so much to tell you.”

“Yeah, but only because you waited so long to call,” he teased.

“That’s not true,” she said hurriedly. “You weren’t home, so I talked with your mother for a long time.”

“Oh, now I’m beginning to understand,” he said.

“I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow,” she added.

“Okay, then. I’ll just have to wait a whole night before I get the rest of the story.”

“You can’t do anything about it,” she responded teasingly.

“I’m very curious, though, so I’ll come to pick you up tomorrow morning at eight-thirty.”

“Eight-thirty!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, of course,” he said teasingly. “That’s the best time of the day.”

Suddenly night came. The sun had set and taken all the light away. It was time to go home. All at once, everybody said good-bye and left.

“Hope to see you tomorrow, then!” Lydia called out to him, and a hand waved at him out of the open window of a car.

Eddie stood looking out the window. There was a white piece of paper on his desk: the envelope from his father. Should he open it now, or wait? Or should he never open it?

No, that was not right. People always say you should be polite! He grinned. What a statement!

Okay, he would open it now. It was just a simple congratulatory card. Good–no sweet talk. It was signed with a firm signature: Carl Macleod, and inside it was a gift certificate for one hundred dollars. Eddie was very surprised. He surely could use this! For a second he softened a little. Then he shook his head angrily. That man didn’t need to try to be nice now. He would never forget how he had treated his mother for so many years. Leaving her to struggle, with no means of support, and with a small baby! He can’t make it right with a gift certificate! He shoved the certificate aside in contempt. Would he really have to thank that man for his gift? Angrily he jerked down the shade and switched off the light. He felt hatred inside, and bad thoughts stirred up inside him. If only his father had stayed away, it would have been a perfect day. Now everything seemed to be spoiled.

Eddie brushed his teeth with a couple of quick strokes, splattering water all over his hands. Then he knelt by his bed. Suddenly he stopped. Could he pray with such angry thoughts bouncing through his head?

He laid his head on his hands and waited until the storm inside him subsided. Then he tried to say a few words in prayer, but they were just words. Feeling unsatisfied with himself, he crept under the blankets and switched off the light on the night table.