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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1480186-Forgetting-September
Rated: E · Other · Experience · #1480186
Two American children tell their version of events after 9/11 in this 3-part monologue.
2.31am, September 12th
MARISSA

People have been ringing around all day. Auntie Sue came in from Long Island to see us. Earlier on, around ten o'clock, Mom and Dad were talking to some neighbours over te and biscuits. Tea and biscuits! It's like this morning never happened. I have no time for that. I hate being in a room full of people I only see once a year, at Christmas or Hanukkah, and smile and ask how they are. I'm more concerned that Joseph still hasn't got back to me yet, even though it's past two in the morning. I e-mailed him right away, immediately after...it happenned. That was way back this morning, yesterday, even. I had no supper before because I wasn't hungry. Maybe I should ring him in the morning. Then again, he probably won't want to speak to me.
I'm only worrying about things like this because I can't sleep. I'm too scared to close my eyes. The neighbours have gone now at long last, but I can still hear the murmur of the radio downstairs, and the quiet sobbing of my Mom in the living room. My parents are still up at this hour, and who can blame them? They must be tired. Every time I close my eyes, the terrible memories replay themselves in my brain, and I can't stop them. For once in my life I have no control over myself.
I was sitting in the living room when it happenned, reading a magazine. I heard this really loud, rumbling noise overhead, increasing gradually by every second. I just thought it was one of the workmen using a pneumatic drill close to our end of the street, when a few minutes later I heard faint, distant screams accompanied by a deafenning crash and the sound of breaking glass. I jumped up, spun round, flew to the window. I couldn't see out of it, because the air was so thick with dust. I peered more closely, my nose squashed flat against the glass, and I started to see the faint grey shapes that were our street. People were moving about in a hurry, yelling and shouting in the distance. I started to panic.
The dust cleared, and I could see a bit better. In fact, I could see everything. Police vans, ambulances and the fire department had all pulled up in the middle of the road, the street. People were running scared all over the place. And, at the center of it all, the two gigantic tower blocks of the World Trade Center, half-destroyed and teetering on cracked foundations.
"MOOOMMMM!" I yelled, my heart racing like the fastest Greyhound. "MOOOMMMMM!"
And there I stood, horrified, as the World Trade Center slowly crashed to the ground in a thunderous explosion of billowing smoke and roaring orange flames.
I started to cry.

*JOSEPH*

I saw it on the news. It was a global terrorist group called Al Queda that carried out the attack. I hate that name. Al Queda. A terrible name, my Mom said. A terrible name for terrible people. I didn't know what to think when she said that. I didn't know what to think when anyone said anything to me the whole day.
I still haven't e-mailed Marissa. I know I should, but I really really don't want to. She won't want to hear from me, anyway. She'll probably be too ashamed to be seen with me. My enitre family is in the living room right now, at two in the morning, eating puppadums off their laps and playing Srabble whilst the 24-hour news flashes in the background. I can hear their muffled voices, their hushed words. I turn over in bed and pull my pillow over my head. I'm tired, but I don't want to sleep. I don't want to listen to the noises downstairs. It's only a distraction, I know, from what's really going on. I'm still finding it hard to believe, even though I saw it with my own eyes. It's all here in my memory.
I got up off the bed, carefully, and unrolled my prayer mat, the one Mom made me herself for my birthday. I didn't care whether it was the right time or not, I just bent over on my knees and made sure the mat was facing the right way (Mecca, of course). Only I wasn't praying to Allah this time. Instead, I prayed for the grieving families, the lives lost, and the sincere hope that Marissa will still want to be friends.

*11.20am, September 13th*
MARISSA

Breakfast this morning was difficult. We all slept in late. No one said very much. I noticed Mom's eyes were red and puffy. Dad tried his best to keep the air light, chatting away to nobody and smiling. I just shrank away, absent-mindedly sipping black coffee and eating toast. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mrs.Kashmir, Joseph's mom. She was standing on her front lawn, holding a sponge and bucket, still trying to clean away 'Go home, you're not wanted here' and the other racist remarks sprayed on her front wall. Sadly, she is not getting very far. The paint must be permanent or something.
Even from this distance, and the fact that she was swathed in a traditional black veil, I could see she was crying. My heart dropped into my scruffy Kickers sneakers. Pushing my plate away, I got up from the table and raced up to my bedroom, switched on my computer and sat on my favourite swivel-chair in front of the screen. I openned my e-mail account, and wrote a short, questionnative e-mail to Joseph;

Hey, Joe
Please don't ignore me. I know it's hard for you, but we can still be friends, can't we? There's nothing to stop us from that. You've done nothing wrong, remember. You will talk to me, won't you?

Love
M xxx

I pressed the SEND button, and desperately hoped that he would reply this time.

*JOSEPH*

My computer just beeped. It's an e-mail from Marissa. Should I open it or not? I wonder what is says. Maybe I should open it. Do I even want to open it? Mom is still outside, cleaning the comments written in red paint off your front wall. My cousin Dhamir, who works in a garden centre, is coming to fix the garden later - last night, a couple of kids ripped up the flowerbeds and upturned the potted shrubs. At four in the morning, the same group of kids came by and trashed the brick wall that separates the lawn from the pavement. Mom was very upset about that.
The bang of the front door means that Mom must be in from her cleaning outside. There is a lot of scuffling downstairs. I can hear my younger sister, Kira, crying in her bedroom, which is adjacent to my own. Slowly, and with a sigh, I got up off my bed and walked over to my computer. I sat down, openned the message;

Hey, Joe
Please don't ignore me. I know it's hard for you, but we can still be friends, can't we? There's nothing to stop us from that. You've done nothing wrong, remember. You will talk to me, won't you?

Love
M xxx

Oh God. I feel really bad now for not replying yesterday. I could feel my shoulders drooping. I felt very low and depressed, and not just because Mom is so upset, or that Grandma can't stop crying, or that my brother Jamile is out there clearing away the mess on the streets. Sure, that stuff's important, but now I've got Marissa to worry about. With a heavy heart, I sent the e-mail, got up from my chair and padded across a short way to Kira's room. She was huddled on the bed in a pool of duvet, tears streaming down her face.
I walked over to her, sat on the bed by her side. Her dark-haired head lolled onto my shoulder. I put my arms around her in a big hug.
"Why are they so mean to us?" Kira sobbed. Her long hair tickled my face, my nose, my ear. I just hugged her even more. I knew how she felt.
I hoped Marissa was right.
I hoped we could still be friends.

*4.10pm, September 14th*
MARISSA

School today was awful. Nearly everyone was crying, even the teachers. It was dreadful. Loads of our class were missing, but Dana Lewis and Izzie Jones and Michael Foster were all in school, as well as a group of others. We didn't do much work. Everyone was too distracted by the crunching and shuffling of rubble outside, and the roar of pneumatic drills. Our school, Rowlands' High School, isn't that far from where the World Trade Center used to be. The streets leading up here are heavy with debris from the explosion. The word 'used' sticks in my head like glue, and feels strange, like it shouldn't be that way.
Joseph isn't the only Muslim on our class. There's Kindra Shaijir, and her twin brother Adan, and there's Adi Kensler as well. But. when he walked into class this morning, everyone was staring at him. Not Kindra or Adan or Adi, but Joseph. I didn't understand. He just ignored them, blanked them out, and slid into his seat next to me. When I thought the others weren't listenning, I said,
"Your Mom got the wall clean yet?"
"No" he replied, mournfully.
"They won't get away with it" I reassured him. Over his shoulder, I saw Michael Davies and his 'friends' laughing and pointing at Joseph. I frowned harshly.
"Hey, Carling, what you doing with that ludicrous coloured trash?" Michael squawked and jeered from his table. I saw Joseph tense up, his eyes wide. "I'd put it in the bin if I were you!" I couldn;t believe my ears. I put my hand on Joseph's arm. He just shook his head, his brown eyes wet with tears. If I'd felt bad before, I was feeling dreadful now. Without another word, Joseph got up, kicking his chair aside, and stormed out of the classroom. Michael Davies and Co. were holwing with laughter in the corner.
This had to be one of the worst days of my life.
It just had to be.

*JOSEPH*

I can't ever go back to school again. Not as long as Michael Davies is a pupil there.
I thought vandalism to our front garden and wall was bad, but this just wipes the slate clean and rewrites the book of mindless hatred. I smelt trouble as soon as I walked into class. I noticed everyone was staring at me, and only me, even though there are three other Muslims on our class - Adan, Kindra and Adi - so it struck me as odd. That was just the start of it.
I slipped into my seat next to Marissa, who was all green eyes and crimson curls and looking at me in a concerned way.
"Your Mom got the wall clean yet?" she asked.
"No" I replied, feeling rather sad.
"They won't get away with it" she reassured me. I wasn't so sure about that. We sat in companiable silence for less than a minute, before I heard something that made my blood run cold.
"Hey, Carling, what you doing with that ludicrous coloured trash?" Michael Davies jeered from the corner. I froze, my mouth dry. I forced back the tears that filmed my eyes. "I'd put it in the bin if I were you!" Davies called again. My feet were like ice, but my insides were boiling. I couldn't stand anymore of it. I didn't want to hear what they had to say.
Shaking Marissa's hand off my arm, I got up, kicked my chair aside, and stormed out. Just like that. I could feel the frantic pulse of my heart as I walked down the polished corridor. Once I reached the toilets, I barricaded myself in an end cubicle and locked the door tight. Pulling my mobile from my satchel, I dialled in the number.
"Hello, you're through to ChildLine"
I'd been lying to myself all along.
Nothing was ever going to be alright again.





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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1480186-Forgetting-September