That Fateful Day

That Fateful Day I remember that day, long ago from my childhood. It was warm the night before, nearly 80 degrees, so I had left my window open. The morning winds where rushing through my school work on the desk. Black and white squiggles on seven pieces of paper, every one of them part of an accumulation of the last two weeks of homework. I needed them to get any kind of decent grade in my first weeks of the fourth grade. “It’s Tuesday today dad. ” I said tentatively to my father. He just stood there in the living room, not really looking at the television. I know” he said in reply without any hesitation. “Aren’t you usually at work on Tuesdays? ” For nearly a minute he just stood there, not saying a word. “Yes” he said, “I usually am at work on Tuesdays. But today is different. ” Not knowing what he meant I said to him, “how? ” I can’t remember much between that moment of me asking how, and him finally stopping to try for an explanation. After what seemed an eternity, he finally un-muted the television. There in the center of the screen where two skyscrapers, one of them was burning and had smoke coming off of it.

There was no one talking on the news, but they were replaying a clip of the tower before it was smoking. The exact moment when the plane hit the building, I knew what was happening. “Dad, do I still have to go to school today? ” I asked in as solemnly as I could. “Yes, you still have to go to school. ” The moment after my father said this the news woman began to talk again. On the screen there was an explosion of smoke and fire from the second building. I stopped hearing what the reporter said and just stared at the screen. I never thought that I would ever see anything like that in my life.

This was the kind of stuff that happened in the movies, not in real life. “It’s 7:35” I remember someone saying, “the bus is late. ” “No shit” my sister said. We were all waiting for the bus. My sister was in tenth grade, and she had a serious attitude. Normally she dressed in very tight, very revealing clothing. But not today. “I bet the bus never even comes” she said. One kid instantly said, “I hope so. ” He didn’t know what happened, his family didn’t have cable. He thought everyone was being quite because we didn’t want to go to school just like him. If the bus doesn’t come by 7:45 I’m going home. ” I remember all the other kids looking at him like he was the biggest idiot in the world. Some of them even had blank expressions on their face like they couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then it hit me, I remembered he didn’t get to watch the news in the morning. It took me 5 minutes before I started to talk. My throat was sore and felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. I didn’t know what to say, I never did in the first place. I was only nine years old, and felt like I had lived far beyond my own self. I didn’t think the same as I use to.

I didn’t want to play any games with the other kids while we waited for the bus. All I wanted was to sit and think. I wanted to think about all those people who were never going to be able to play their Nintendo’s again. About all of the people who would be crying because they lost their son, or their dad. It took all of 30 seconds to tell him what happened. The entire time everyone was looking at me wondering how I was able to talk about it at all especially the older kids. I was dreading the day already. I didn’t want to do any schoolwork while I knew that there were people dying somewhere far away.

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I didn’t want to go to recess like I usually do and slide down the big kid slide. I wanted to spend the day staring at the television screen just like my mom and dad were going to. I remember when the sun finally came up over the hill. The light was just right that morning. It was spilling through the oak trees onto the road, showing the hundreds of pin drops that were light on the black ground. The trees where flowing back and forth just right, making the sound that I loved so much the swish swish of leaves brushing against each other. If it were any other day I might have skipped school just to sit and read under the trees.

But it wasn’t, so I didn’t. I got on the bus when it finally came just like I always should have on these nice days. We were finally at school. The teacher, not knowing what to do, turned on the television to the news. It was the same couple of minutes from the morning playing over and over. The towers had already fallen at this point, so there really wasn’t anything new to show. There was a staff meeting about an hour after school started. All of the students were sent out for recess. I was among the only students who didn’t go and play.

I walked out of the school onto the playing field and just stood there staring at the grain elevator in the distance. From the perspective of the school the grain elevator looked almost exactly like one of the towers in the news. It was big and new, having been finished only 2 months before. It was tall and silvery, with little lines running up and down the entirety of the building. There were no windows all the way up until you got to the very top. There on top, was a huge window. It seemed to be bigger than my house way up there, but in reality it was only the size of a car, albeit a rather large car.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Recess was over. It was time to go in. All of the teachers were standing at attention near their perspective lines, waiting for something to happen. The students where chattering away like usual, waiting for the line to start moving. The principal was also outside, which was really weird. He never left his office. Mostly because he was busy, but also because he was somewhat afraid of talking to people. “Today, something terrible happened” the principal started. “Today, we witnessed something that none of us will ever forget. I stared straight into his eyes. They were dark brown, much like a rich wet soil after it rained. His eyes were watering, and had red lines throughout them. “I am sorry to inform you all that school today will be cut short. You will all be going home in 20 minutes. Those of you who are not able to go home will stay here at the school until the time that school regularly lets out. ” The principal began to softly weep. “I, among others, will be here at the school until the regular hour of the schools letting out. If any of you wish to stay, then you are welcome to stay.

But it is not required, and there will be no school lessons today. ” The rest of the day seemed to go by slower and slower. I was never going to be able to know why the things that happened did happen. But I will know that I changed that day. For a long time after that I didn’t do anything for fun. I sat around a lot reading books I didn’t want to read. Eating food that I didn’t want to eat. I will never forget that day, because that day changed my life forever. After that day I was never able to look at the world again, and I was never able to think the same way. I remember 9/11.

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