From the start it has always seemed so right. Well the start was not quite the correct statement, it was the start of her breaking into the world, of her blossoming like a flower, from a girl to a woman. The start of learning to live away from the security of her home and her family. Leaving the nest and standing on her own two feet.

She, like so many before her, had learned about life and love, of self discovery and development in those precious years away at college.

It had been strange at first, without her family there. Making new friends, meeting people from different places and learning a different way of life. She had struggled a little at first, lost amongst all this new freedom. But gradually she settled in, made new friends, enjoyed the fun, but never forgot the reason she was there.

Then, one day she met him. She thought of that first meeting and a smile crossed her face, her hand gently caressed the ring that now sparkled on her finger.

It was at yet another party. The "normal crowd" was there, the normal "out of control people", the normal "talking in the kitchen crowd", the "dancing and hoping to meet the 'one' crowd", and the "well-it's-something-to-do crowd". Which crowd she was in depended on how she felt that night. This night, she was just watching, not really looking for anything, just glad to get a break from her heavy weekend of homework that lay waiting for her when she got back to her room. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned with a smile to see a pair of the bluest eyes she had ever seen in her life. Her heart, for some reason, did a complete flip. All she could do was smile like some lunatic. A voice, which seemed to float from the clouds, asked her if she wanted to dance. She could not answer, so she just nodded her head.

He told her that he had been trying to ask her out for many weeks, how he had watched her at parties from afar, but never quite able to pluck up the courage to actually speak to her before. That night however, it all changed. They danced and the music seemed to take them swirling amongst the stars. They matched, each smile, each move, each look, it was right. It was as if it were planned, the reason they had been put on this earth. They were meant for each other.

Days turned into weeks and they grew together. They became an item, a number, a couple. Everybody who knew them could see they were meant to be. Even her parents, whom she thought would never understand and might pressure her about her work, seemed to understand. Her grades actually got better as they studied together and helped each other through that first college year.

At the end of that first year, she took him home with her, and her family fell under his spell, just as she had done. He became part of their lives, and her world was lit with their love. The next year, they did not even try to hide their love, but moved in together. After a small protest from her mother, even she understood. They were in everybodies eyes as good as married.

There had been times, as with any relationship, when the seas of their love had hit a stormy passage, leaving both of them hurt and upset. Yet all the while they both knew that their being together was meant to be, it was right.

The second year flew by, this time she went back with him and met his family. She loved them and was accepted by them just as her family had taken to him. The third year and then the final year came and went, nerves frayed under the pressure of the final exams. They tried to be apart, to see if that would help the studying, but neither could live without the other.

The exams passed, and then came the day of the results. There were their names side by side, both graduating with honors.

Family met family at the graduation, and though they worried about this meeting, both families got on well with each other, their love seeming to cover all those who knew them.

They started work, and planned for their future. Again, she touched the ring that sparkled on her left hand. Remembering the day when he had asked her to marry him, she had thought she had died and gone to heaven.

The wedding was planned, and now here she was on a plane, waiting for it to take off, so that she could become Mrs. Clair Westen. She had said that name so many times, even practiced signing it, when she thought he was not looking.

The wedding was to be in her home town. He was traveling there with his family and would be on his way by now. She had sent her wedding dress on ahead of her. It would be there waiting at the local post office, along with her going away clothes, and a special picture to show her family.

She settled back in her seat touching the ring, thinking of the future and the life that would make her the happiest person alive

The voice of the pilot came on the intercom.   "Welcome to American Airways flight 11 out of Boston, we hope you enjoy your flight, and thank you for choosing to fly American Airways"

She settled back for the flight as the plane took off. This time tomorrow she thought, this time on the 12th of September she would be Mrs. Clair Westen.

But the plane never got there. She became just a name in a list of hundreds and then thousands.

A man sat waiting, watching the television, not believing it could happen. More than one person died that day and more than one heart got broken. His was smashed into thousands of tiny pieces.

People turned up at a church the next day to view the joining of two people, but they left a few moments later, with tears streaming down their faces, as sobs of sheer pain filled the empty church.

A wedding dress sat unclaimed at a small village post office, until finally, a family member came to claim the package. It was only then, when they sorted through the items, that they found the photo. When they viewed the picture of her ultrasound, they realized it was not just their daughter they had lost on that fateful day.

Barry Eva 2001