Rated: ASR · Short Story · Biographical · #887977
My story of that awful day when the towers fell.
| When "The World Stopped Turning," as Alan Jackson so eloquently put it, I was in a "New York State Of Mind." I don't need memory to recall that as I'm always in that state of mind. I am a misplaced New Yorker whose circumstances have forced me to reside in Amarillo, TX since 1997. New York is a part of me, always in my heart and never far from my thoughts. Most of my closest friends are there as is all of my immediate family.|
I work in law enforcement and one morning I began a shift, dispatching, at 8:00 A.M. Thirty minutes after I started working the Sergeant came in and told us to recall all the field units because we were going on alert status. While unusual in itself, anything was known to happen and be overreacted to with this Sheriff's Department. I calmly asked why and when he told me terrorists had flown a plane into the Twin Towers my reaction was, "yeah, right." The look on his face was enough confirmation to me and my whole world stopped for a minute.
An eternity later I could speak and learned of the initial tragedy. My first thought was of Tom Clancy's book "Debt Of Honor" where a lone terrorist took out most of the nation's highest politicians by crashing his jet plane. Apparently Osama Bin Laden read that book too.
I remained at work for the entire shift despite offers to let me go home. What could I do at home that I wasn't already doing? Most of the time is a blur spent smoking, calling New York and pacing. Five minutes couldn't pass without someone asking if I had heard from my family yet or offering me well wishes.
My father was working in Manhattan and frequently had meetings at The World Trade Center. My Aunt also worked in Manhattan, close to the site. I certainly didn't know their exact schedules and had no idea where they were. I called and called but phones were barely working and cell phones not at all. At 11:30 I finally reached my mother. She had heard from my Aunt's roommate. My Aunt had arrived at work long enough to say she was leaving before the trains were shut down and no one had heard from her since. Still no word from my father.
I have never lived a more helpless day in my entire life. Had I been in New York, where I belong, I would have attempted to get to Manhattan and find my father and I never would have made it there. I could have helped absolutely no one, but still I felt like a traitor sitting 3000 miles away in safety.
At 2:30 that afternoon, upon trying my father's office phone for about the 230th try that day, it rang and was answered. The sweetest sound I ever heard was my father's voice assuring me he was okay. My heart beat again for the first time in hours and then I learned my Aunt had caught the very last train out of the city. I could finally stop pacing.
This story is for a contest entry. My day does not compare to that of those who lost so much during the tragedy. My heart goes out to all those people who sat, in vigil, hoping and praying for good news and finding none. I knew three people who died; a distant cousin, a high school classmate and a college classmate. All tragedies but in my personal sphere of being, not a loss to me. I lost nothing but peace of mind as the world permanently changed for the worst.
I still live in Texas but Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind" is always playing in my heart. When I go home every year my eyes tear at what's missing from the city skyline and every September I relive those terror filled moments when I simply did not know.