posted on Sep, 8 2011 @ 12:44 AM
As I was walking up to the school building from my mom's car, my friend Esther rushed me, breathlessly. The first thing she said was, "Did you hear
the news this morning? Somebody has crashed an airplane into the World Trade Center. They're saying it was some middle eastern guy."
"Saddam Hussein?" I asked. After all, wasn't Saddam the only middle eastern guy who mattered...?
"No," she said. "I don't remember the name, but it wasn't Saddam. I've never heard of him."
I mumbled something dismissive. In my mind at that point, it wasn't anything huge. In my mind, it must have been a very small plane, given the lack
of notoriety of the perpetrator. In my mind, it was still a minor occurrence on the other side of the country. I had science to learn, after all.
Visions of a small prop plane wielded by a crazed third world militant filled my head. At that point to me, it was nothing.
So I walked into my first period class, which, funnily enough, was biology. (How many Texas schoolkids had bio that first period on 9/11? And did
all of us wind up ATS posters?) I was alone in the classroom, and the television was on. I ignored it for a few minutes as I dug in my bag for
notebooks, binder, and pens. I looked up, and the news was on. WTC, with smoke pouring out of one of the buildings fairly high up. A mere few seconds
later, there was a huge blast, and I realized...dear god, another plane has hit the other tower, and it wasn't a small one either. And at that
moment, I knew that this wasn't some minor threat with a prop plane. I felt cold. My mind went blank.
First period was spent watching the news. Whatever the lesson plan for the day had been, it no longer mattered. The only thing that mattered was the
events unfolding on television. Nobody was saying anything. Nobody was even crying. We just watched, struck dumb by what seemed impossible. The
Pentagon had been hit. The f***ing Pentagon! And another had crashed in Pennsylvania.
First period ended, and we rushed quietly to our homerooms, in case something else happened. The announcements began, exclusively addressing the
attacks. The principal urged the teachers to turn off the televisions, urged us to go about our day as normal. Yeah, right. That was the first time we
made much noise that day. Of course, it was an order that was defied, blatantly. There was no way in hell we could act like this was a normal day.
It was in homeroom that the first tower fell. English, the same room as homeroom, the second came down. In that moment when the first tower collapsed,
it was like my heart was abruptly yanked out. My stomach lurched. I was horrified. I did not know how many people had been evacuated from the tower,
but I knew that there were still a whole lot left in there, far too many. The horror I felt at the sudden and terrible loss of so many lives haunts me
to this day. People started bursting into tears, but all I felt was horror. All those people, gone, just like that. For what, for what?
The rest of the day passed watching news coverage of smoldering ruins. It was still a few hours after the collapse before anyone started talking.
About what it meant for us, for America, for the world. No answers, no speculation, only the questioning.
I don't remember how I got home that day, but my mom had work. I was alone again, like that first period class, but emptier. By that time, I
couldn't watch any more news coverage. It was all too much for me to take. I wandered around out in my back yard, petting my dogs. My head was full
of horror. I couldn't shake the image of that first tower's fall, nor the sickness it left in me. I remember the skies were so clear, so blue, the
dryness of the air, the bright rust color of fallen pine needles and their smell, all heavy and thick and realer than real, it felt at the time like
the world and all its sensations were in technicolor. Everything seemed too vivid and intense. All while my head was filled with a thousand worries
that no fourteen year old kid should have. Was this the end of everything I thought the world was? Would there be war? Would they reinstate the draft?
Would there be more attacks? Was I going to die, too?
My reverie was abruptly penetrated by the sound of something once familiar and now terrible: that strange echoing rumble of jet engines. My heart
started racing, hadn't all aircraft been grounded nationwide? I started searching the skies, and my eyes fell upon a tiny white jet traversing the
sky. I was terrified. Would they really hit here? What's even here to hit? But it passed. I don't know who was on that plane, or why it was there,
but it scared me badly.
I went back inside, more news, more horror. Another building had collapsed. WTC was a pile of smoking rubble, and in that destruction, the world I
knew had died.