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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest · #1707215
September 11, 2001, from my viewpoint. Winner of Writers Cramp challenge for 09/11/10.
The sun had started to peek from behind the buildings as I sleepily traversed the five-block distance from the parking garage to my office building. I tugged my collar up as I felt a slight nip in the air. Summer recently ended in Portland, and I was at once dreading and looking forward to the arrival of autumn and the cold weather that accompanies it. I'd have to break out my favorite trenchcoat, I mused, then reminded myself it was the only trenchcoat I owned.

I needlessly thanked my lucky stars for ensuring there was a Starbucks caddy corner from my building so that I could effectively fuel up before stepping foot in the office. It's amazing what a few sips of caffeinated goodness can do to boost one's alertness. (Or, at least, convincincly so.) Every weekday morning, at almost the exact same time, I would walk into this Starbucks, and greet the same baristas, and exchange the same pleasantries, with slight variations here and there. "Looks like rain today," was among the short list of phrases that would start our two-minute conversations. I remember being thrilled the first time I walked in and the barista asked me if I was having my usual drink, and they actually knew it. It was a strange combination of flavors, and I was told repeatedly that I was the only one who ordered that mixture, so it was easy for them to remember it. They also promised repeatedly that they would name the drink after me, and that it was a matter of time for the big heads in Seattle to approve it. To date, I still don't see my beverage namesake on the menu board.

I was prepared for this morning to be like every other morning, with the only difference being that it was Tuesday instead of Monday or Thursday. I opened the door, and was met by the usual line of people, subconsciously counting how many of them were ahead of me, hoping to make eye contact with one of the baristas behind the counter who knew my drink, waiting for one of them to ask, "The usual?"

Instead, there were nervous murmurs in the cozy store, worried looks on the baristas faces, with one of them still managing to foam some 2% milk despite what was apparently troubling everyone but me. One of the ladies in line had cupped her gaping mouth, her eyes wide as she looked at her neighbor. "A plane hit the World Trade Center," I heard someone say. "Oh, my God," gasped another.

Still groggy from the lack of caffeine, I thought they were referring to the World Trade Center we had in town-- a three-building, two-storied set of non-descript edifices along the waterfront-- and immediately wondered why I wouldn't have heard or seen it on my drive in. After all, it was always within view as I make my away across the Hawthorne Bridge from the other side of the river. Surely, I wasn't that sleepy to not have noticed any commotion surrounding what would've been a major event in my tiny "big city."

"A plane just hit the other tower!"
"Oh, God!"
"What's happening?"
"Those poor people!"

I looked out the window, still convinced this was all happening nearby, wondering about the absence of sirens and firetrucks and police cars zooming toward the waterfront, and the lack of overall mayhem. When I got to the front of the line, the bewildered barista, whom I've known for the last two years, just looked at me. I felt uncomfortable with the silence and said, "Um, my usual. Please."

She shook her head, "Of course. Sorry. I'm just a little distraught."
"Why, what's going on?" I asked.
"Haven't you heard? The World Trade Center towers in New York were hit by airplanes."

In New York. It took a couple of beats for the words to sink in. In New York. I remembered gazing up those towers when I visited Manhattan a decade before. I recalled my elation as I ignored my fear of heights and braved the observation deck that offered an insane view of the Big Apple.

"I heard one of the towers just collapsed!"
"No way!"
"Oh, my God!"

Holy shit. That tall building just fell down? What?

I never got my coffee. I bolted out the door, and rushed across the street to my building, whizzing by people who all had similar expressions of shock on their faces. I passed by a storefront that had a small group of pedestrians crowding around a television that was tuned to CNN, which showed the scenes of the planes hitting the towers, of the huge structures collapsing, and of people running. Just running.

All at once, my stomach was in knots, as the last half hour finally caught up with me, as the realization that something very significant indeed had happened in New York, a city three thousand miles away that suddenly seemed so close I could touch it, so close that I could feel the tension and the fear and the overwhelming sense of helplessness.

And suddenly, that day turned out to be unlike any other day. It wasn't even a Tuesday.

It was September 11, 2001.

9/11...as I would forever remember it.

Prompt: Write a story about where you were on 9/11-- when you discovered that America had just been attacked.
Word Count: 876
© Copyright 2010 Sam N. Yago (jonsquared at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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