Florence is a survivor of the 9/11 attacks. She is described as a light-skinned and slightly overweight black woman in her late thirties or forties (p. 52, ch. 5). She worked for a company called Preston Webb in the north tower of the World Trade Center when the plane hit. On her way out, she fell and forgot her suitcase which Keith then more or less unconsciously carried out of the tower. Days after the attacks, Keith realizes that the suitcase isn’t his and decides to contact the owner, Florence Givens. They arrange for him to come to her apartment which is situated near Central Park.
From the very first meeting in Florence’s apartment, it is clear that she and Keith are tied together by their shared experience. Florence is eager to tell Keith all the details, while he only listens at first:
She wanted to tell him everything. This was clear to him. Maybe she’d forgotten he was there, in the tower, or maybe he was the one she needed to tell for precisely that reason. He knew she hadn’t talked about this, not so intensely, to anyone else. (ll. 26-30, p. 55, ch. 5)
Florence is able to put into words what Keith isn’t. And soon they start talking about their pasts, their younger years, educations, and Florence’s brief marriag...