“Where is Alice?” 

The question made Francine shudder 

It had been a peaceful morning until the question came up. The sky was clear, the air warm and inviting as Francine went out for her morning run along the pier. She was greeted by the costal sunrise, singing birds,  the smells from bakeries; all the promises of another beautiful day in a city so filled with wonder. The exciting tides of summer were still riding high in the atmosphere. She had moved to the city only a year ago as an ambitious 19 year old, with her high school diploma and her European accent. Her and Alice met while selling newspaper subscriptions. It was a job well suited  for immigrants and people like Alice, artistic, free spirited and idealistic whom also was constantly struggling with rent payments. Francine remembered the gleam of life she saw in Alice's dancing eyes on that day, and she saw the same quality each time they got together since.  Most of the group looked pathetic trying to stop the people racing outside the busy subway station while the sky was teeming with rain overhead. Meanwhile, Alice still beamed with energy. Somehow she even managed to meet her daily quota, selling subscriptions to stodgy business men while their suits became soaked from the rain.  By lunchtime Alice and Francine had become best friends. 

“You're new” 

Alice had said, smiling 

Francine blushed before Alice's forthcoming presence.

“I do a lot of these one-offs, I’ve seen a lot of faces, never seen yours, though.”  Alice said with a kind-natured shimmer in her voice.

“I am new. I just came in from Amsterdam.”  Francine smiled

“Amsterdam?” Said Alice. 

“Been twice. Tell me about it over lunch. There’s a good coffee shop—“ 

And on that rainy day, Francine made the best friend of her life. 

Nearing the end of her run, running out of breath, Francine felt all her troubles melt away, at least momentarily. By that time the city was bustling, it was the morning rush hour. Seeing  people racing to work, her mind snapped back to reality.  But, Francine realized something unusual. She noticed the crowds of people running more frantically than usual. Caught up in her run, she had been completely unaware of everything that had happened on that September morning. Finally she looked up to notice the clouds of smoke filling up the sky. Catastrophe had struck. She registered the looks of terror on people’s screaming, teary eyed faces

Suddenly, she only had one thought on her mind. “Where is Alice?”


“Where is Alice?"

Fred had wondered this many times a day, but this time was different. He paced back and forth in his apartment while watching the events on the TV screen. His eyes rejected what he saw and his mind rebelled in disbelief. Fred was In love with Alice ever since he first saw her sparkling blue eyes and summery blonde hair. It was the first day of a college acting class. Fred had enrolled in it as a bird course, and potentially, to meet a cute girl. That cute girl's name was Alice.

He smiled to himself as he remembered the name game the class had to endure to ‘break the ice’, as the professor instructed.

"This will be a fun way to get used to taking the stage. Come into the middle of the circle and say your name loudly and maybe a little about why you took the course."

While all the students squirmed, Alice leaped into the middle of the room.

“Im Alice!” Her voice echoed off the walls. The entire class was caught by surprise.

  She stood smiling proudly for a moment and the professor motioned his hands frantically for her to continue.

“Oh yeah, and....” 

“I took this course, because, well....”

“Okay, the truth is, I don’t even go to school here. I was just bored at home and felt like learning something. Is that such a crime? Are you going to make me leave?” 

The entire class stared at her, wide eyed and confused. 

“Oh my. You all believed that crap? Man, I must be good at this."

The class erupted with laughter.

Just like that Alice had stolen the hearts of the professor and everyone else in the class. Especially Fred's. 

“But, seriously.” She said. Interrupting the laughter. 

“You’re all paying for this?”  

Fred couldn’t ever work up the nerve to ask her out. At least not in a romantic way. He expressed a great deal of platonic affinity for her, though, and Alice reciprocated. 

“Movies tonight?” Fred would say on a Friday

“Yeah sure. What’s playing? Aw hell I don’t even care. I just need a distraction. Who’s going?”

Fred hadn’t invited anyone else. 

“Jake. Tammy. Gene.” 

He lied.

He knew they would all show once he asked them to, but he hadn’t asked them on account of him thinking he may finally express his true romantic intentions. 

And the longer Fred waited. The more difficult it seemed to be. Until, finally, it may have been too late. Over a year had passed since they met.  It seemed Alice had found someone else.  A firefighter, she told Fred just a couple months back. 

Fred smiled and gave congratulations while he felt his appendix rupture and his insides reaching melting point. 


“Where is Alice?” 

As the fire engine roared through the Brooklyn rush hour traffic Michael felt his heart beating in his throat. The sirens and the horns and the screams blared into his ears. His first day couldn’t come soon enough. He felt himself on the verge of vomiting his breakfast. He contracted every muscle in his body in an effort to swallow what felt like a fist sized gumball lodged in his windpipe. When that didn’t work he tried a breathing exercise Alice had shown him. The thought of Alice made his adrenaline pump even more vigorously through him. Immediately, he reached to his heart where he knew his cross was resting and he closed his eyes in prayer. It was only moments later the truck arrived at the scene. 

Nothing had prepared Michael for that day. They had warned him ever since he was a kid about being a firefighter. He had spoken to veterans and they laid it all out for him. This job would leave behind memories and scenes that would remain imprinted on his brain forever. But even after all the things he had heard about, Michael had never imagined anything of this magnitude. There, in front of him, the two tallest buildings in the world burned. The crowds were in mass hysteria. Bodies flung themselves off the skyscrapers, still engulfed in flames as they soared to the ground. Michael sprinted to tower one

He knew Alice had a job interview  that morning in tower one. 

As he rushed into the flames, he had only one question on his mind.

"Where is Alice?"


That morning there were many people asked that same question: “Where is Alice?” 

None of them would ever know the answer. 

May 09, 2020 01:56

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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