Through My Eyes

November 18, 2009
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The sun that usually grazed my face as I slowly opened my morning eyes was no longer there. I had never wished to see the sun more than I had at this very moment. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t see. Everything was a blackened blur that I had never seen coming. I never knew one split second could change the rest of my life.
It was only 7am and I had to be to work in less than two hours. I loved my job but these early mornings I could do without. I rolled out of bed and shuffled sloathly into the shower. Today is going to be a good day I thought to myself as the warm water trickled down my face and steam rose all around me. I slid open the glass shower door and put on my black dress pants and jacket. I smeared my hand across the fogged up mirror and spun my hair into a tight bun. With my toothbrush sticking out the side of my mouth I grabbed a granola bar from the kitchen and started up a pot of energy. I finished brushing my teeth, poured myself a cup of pure black Tollhouse, and headed out in to the dew covered morning.

After traveling for a while, I made it into the city and sat with my foot on the brake for what seemed like eternity. The ten minute drive to work turned into half an hour once I surrendered myself to New York Time Square traffic. I walked into the skyscraper I called work. Elevators, by the dozen, lined marble laced walls and people in business suits were all too common. I work for Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the greatest financial service companies in the whole city. Nothing can top us. I stepped into a stuffed elevator with my cup of joe held nearly above my head and started the one way journey up to the 23rd floor. I greeted the people around me. Tammy’s daughter just gave birth, Dave is getting married in three days, and I found out yesterday that I got a promotion. Life seemed complete for everyone here.

The door constantly chimed as it opened and closed before I finally reached my floor. I stepped off and walked by my boss. He turned to me and smiled before he went back to his phone call. I headed down towards the front of the building and set my briefcase on my rounded desk. I sat down and stared out the windows of heaven. Reflections of the city bounced off the pure glass and you could view the whole city out of just one. I had the best view in all of New York, or at least that’s what I thought. I took a deep breath and a sip of coffee before I started on my first call of the morning. I continued to stare out the window as I took notes from the client on the other end. My hearing was muffled by a noise that seemed to be getting louder. I looked down and fumbled with the buttons on the keypad but nothing seemed to help. I apologized and looked up and back out the window. Just as my head rose, I could only see one thing out the window. Not the beautiful city or the bright morning sun, but the nose of an airplane heading straight towards my building. I looked at Dave across from me, dropped the phone and ran, ran as fast as I possibly could as tears flooded my eyes. Sounds of pure hell came from behind me. A loud shriek climbed behind me as shattering glass and sheer terror fell upon my ears as I pushed through the frantic crowd of all too familiar faces. I looked behind me and saw an utter nightmare. The front of my building gaping like an open sore, bodies crushed beneath and trapped inside burning plane parts, and people in complete anguish doing their best to calm suffering friends they’ve known for so long. My eyes could see everything but happiness. Coworkers I’ve known for years clung to their cell phones making their last attempts to speak to their loved ones; people huddled together in hallways with their hands over their heads, some jumping out windows from many stories above and many running for dear life. I felt alone even in the center of hundreds of people.

There was no time to stop and even think about why this was happening. I just wanted to run and never look back in hopes of making it out of this building alive. I stepped into a crowded stairwell. People lined each step just sitting, waiting, and wishing for something better to happen. I knew nothing good could ever come out of this, so I climbed over each person and left them with sorrow in my eyes.

As minutes passed, my mind was overwhelmed and my eyes overflowed with tears. Why is this happening to such innocent people? I thought to myself, frustrated. I could feel a sudden heat lightly brush across my face. I peered above me and could see a slight layer of smoke rest upon the air.

I gripped the walls around me and pushed myself along quickly. I got to another stairwell and small pieces of brick began to fall from the ceiling. The building began to shake around me. I kept my eyes focused as my stomach turned, as I left panicked people behind. I managed to lodge myself into a small utility closet. The walls were made of what seemed like unbreakable grey concrete. Even though hell was blazing on the floor above me, the walls seemed still as cold and gloomy as they had always been. My brain was warped. I couldn’t picture anything else besides seeing my death happen right here, right now. My heart pounded in and out of my chest like pendulum knocking hard back and forth against my ribs. Nothing seemed to make sense as I curled up in the corner, just waiting and wishing, wishing with all the strength I had left.

The small room I locked myself in started to fill with a light layer of smoke. I could see it streaming from the ceiling above me. My throat struggled against the thick charcoal smoke as I touched the concrete door lightly and could feel intense heat beneath my palm. I backed away from the door rapidly, my eyes gaping wide. I am locked in a small room filling to the rim with smoke and a blaze flaming just beyond the doo. What am I going to do? I thought to myself, frightened. Sweat began to drip profusely down my forehead. But it wasn’t from the fire surrounding me; it was from sheer fear of what could happen next. I sat against the wall the furthest from the door and prayed. There wasn’t really anything else I could do. Nobody was there to confide in, and there was no way out. I didn’t want to know what was behind that door. I didn’t want to know how big the fire had gotten, how far it spread, or how many people were left dead.

The ceiling above me decided to crumble and a hot fire crawled in upon the ceiling. I shut my eyes as I felt the building start to quiver below me. Shelves in the utility room began to topple over and the sprinklers above spitted on as the fire neared them. I knew this was it. This is where my whole world would come crashing down. The whole ceiling above me collapsed and as the pieces weighed down on the floor, it buckled. I fell from nearly ten stories above. I fell flat on my back with my hands protecting my face. Concrete blocks crumbled around me and bits of fire still lit around me. I was nearly unconscious but could still feel around me. I could feel concrete powder sprinkling my face, and a concrete block against my ribs. I could feel it cutting off my air supply as it rested firmly against my chest. I struggled to breathe as I lay buried beneath many pounds of solid brick that wouldn’t budge even the slightest as I tried to push it away. My lungs began to deflate like stale party balloons and then slowly rise up again. With stiff bricks against my back and chest, I felt like I was being pressed between two vice grips until I was completely devoid of even the smallest breath. I shut my eyes and tried not to think of anything besides my beautiful home. The home I hoped I’d be able to go back to after I got out of this mess. I had never appreciated what I had until I actually stopped to think about it. As I lay here with nowhere to run, that’s all I could think about. I appreciated life so much more. I fell asleep for a while and woke up to the sound of fire engines and screaming people. It felt as if they were so far away, and I had no way to reach a hand out for them to see me. I sat there, unable to do anything. All I could do was wait. I could hear a voice getting louder as it traveled closer to me. I squirmed beneath the bricks with all my might and felt someone lift a brick off the side of my arm. I moved my fingers slowly and a glove touched my hand. I looked over and could see that it was a fireman.

“It’s going to be alright,” the New York fireman said calmly. Tears of joy swelled in my eyes and a smile flashed across my face. I’m so lucky I thought to myself. The man lifted the brick off my chest and I let out a sigh. He looked down at me with a smile. The medics ran over with a stretcher and placed me on it. As they wheeled me over to the ambulance, I looked around me. People stood crying on each other’s shoulders. I choked on a thick, dusty fog that covered the whole city, and the ruins of my workplace. All this happened in a matter of seconds? I still didn’t know exactly what had happened. I got into the ambulance and before I knew it, they were asking me what my name was and my age. After all that, they finally told me what had happened. I had been caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. I shut my eyes as they shut the ambulance doors. Knowing that I just had made it through one of the worst disasters in history I would treat life so much differently. I’d live by a quote I once heard in my younger years. Macbeth would say “Come what come may, Time and hour runs through the roughest day.” Today will eventually end and tomorrow will be brand new.

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