Simone heard the guttural screams first and then, deafening silence. She managed to wipe some of the debris from her eyes and straighten her legs. Her eyes were coated with a gritty, thick layer of something that felt like sand. She grabbed onto the corner of the desk and worked hard to find her footing and regain her balance. She swore she felt the building sway, but how could that be?
She had no sense of time and was unnerved by the sudden and inexplicable quiet. Where was she? The last thing she remembered she was sitting at her desk putting the final touches on a presentation, but now couldn’t remember what it was about. She continued to brush the powdery substance from her clothes, but as she did, more settled quicker than she could keep up with. There was a horrible taste in her mouth and she felt a sticky, thick film caked on her gums, tongue, and teeth. What she wouldn’t give for a drink of water.
The piercing screams returned and people rushed past her door towards the stair well. She decided to follow them. On her way out she glimpsed a calendar lying open. It read Tuesday, September 11, 2001. She knew she would never forget this day.
Her office was on the third floor so she didn’t have far to go to get out of the building and onto the street. A sea of weary, frightened faces blurred past her. People were pushing and shoving each other in search of something that resembled a safe haven. She noticed a man slumped on the bottom step in his stocking feet. His shirt was tattered and torn. He must have slipped and slid to the bottom. He didn’t look well. His hands trembled and he was struggling to get up. Simone pushed through the crowd and held out her arm to help hoist him to a standing position. He latched onto her with desperate force and eventually rose to his feet. Upon standing, he was thrust into the racing crowd and she quickly lost sight of him. She looked down and swiped the film from her watch and noticed it was barely 9 A.M. Panic poured through her. Was it possible the building really did move? She reminded herself she was in a strong building in the middle of New York City; she would be fine. Breathe, breathe.
She caught bits and pieces of conversations and heard someone say, “What the hell happened,” as she tried to piece the morning together in her mind. She remembered that while on the third floor she heard a thunderous boom. It sounded like the whirl of a massive engine, but she quickly dismissed the thought as ridiculous. She finally made it onto the street and the scene was like nothing she had ever seen. People scattered in every direction – utter chaos. Police, Fire, and other rescue vehicles covered every inch of the street. She couldn’t imagine why they were so intent on running into the building that she was so determined to escape. Heavy soot continued to fall in huge chunks from the sky like snow, but heavier. Everything as far as she could see was buried under a blanket of grey. She broke into a furious run and without warning, leaned over and threw up.
She caught a glimpse of her reflection in a broken window pane and froze. She looked like an angel who had risen from ashes. Every piece of exposed skin was covered under a thick veil of filth. She was not alone in this hideous disguise; everyone as far as she could see wore the same cloak. She looked and felt like death. At that very moment something clearly spoke to her spirit. She heard the words, “hope will rise from these ashes” and somehow she knew it would.
Peace to all on this day!
aka Full of Hope
Remembering September 11th