What the hell just happened?!
I was sitting in math class, my senior year. The P.A. system came on, "Ladies and gentleman, planes have crashed into the WTC and Pentagon." Whoa. It had not yet clicked this was on purpose. Such thingshort were unthinkable. To me I assumed this was a two coincidental freak accidents. I say two, because at the time I was not thinking of the stock exchange center in New York, but Chicago at what is now Willis Tower. That misunderstanding clouded my imagination the rest of the school day. We did not have access to television broadcasts until hours later. Fate would have it, that my next class was National, State and local Government. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Winters, but the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we need those do we not?" The question was of course rhetorical. No new information came for another hour or two. Rumors flew throughout the school. There was still no early dismissal yet as it seemed the county board was freaked out and unsure of how to proceed, busses had to be rerouted and so forth, so in the meantime, we went from class to class but no material was taught. It was now evident this was a terrorist attack. At lunch, a janitorial lady came by with a gargage bin to collect paper bags and and other trash. "Another plane just went down in Pennsylvania. HE is comin' back. Get ready. The Lord is 'bout to return." She said. The day pressed on, and finally around twelve thirty or one, I was in what should have been a Spanish class. Our teacher was visibly frightened, and she told us she was. New rumors began to fly, it was said that the World Trade Center collapsed, and vivid images of the Sears Tower crumbling flew through my imagination. Word spread that America was shut down. "Shut down! What do you mean shut down?" I asked another student, alarmed. "Do they have the white house, is IT occupied?!" Finally, across the hall a television was connected to the local news and we shuffled to it to see. The recorded image on the screen was of the burning South Tower and I finally understood, after all those hours that they meant the WTC in New York. I had barely gone "Oh, that one", when the top slid off and up went the plume of smoke. "My God! The top fell off! Onto all everyone on the street below!" The wind, or an upgrade moved the column of smoke aside slowy. "Where's the rest of it?!" Gone. It was gone.. thenow went the other and the videos of the planes crashing that burned themselves into my mind. Schoolong was then dismissed. I mounted my bike to ride home, as my house was not far. It was a severe clear out, not a cloud, and I saw not a plane. We lived by the county airport. There were always planes. No. There were none. Except...one. a screaming fighter jet moved from one side of the sky to the other, afterburners blazing. Everything would be different now.
As I began to take a sip from my glass of water, I counted my blessings. Never take anything in this life for granted, not even something as simple and as pure as the water you drink. You never know when you won't have that luxury ever again.
Gaby (story excerpt)