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That Was Your Mother's Flight

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It was a beautiful, unassuming Monday morning; the sort that made you wish there was recess in middle school. My mom was headed for San Francisco on a business trip. My little sister got on the bus to head to the elementary school. And my dad and I were headed for Roosevelt Middle School, him being a science teacher and me being a student. Apparently the school has some policy against having your father as a teacher; they said it was nepotism. They really thought I needed him to get good grades? All he’d do is give me a ninety-five instead of a ninety-four or something, but he does that for all his students. So he never was my teacher. Instead I had Mrs. Busch, a mean old lady. She’d give me a ninety-three instead of that hypothetical ninety-four just to spite me. And I happened to be in her class at 8:46 on the morning of September eleventh. I happened to be there when that plane hit the North Tower.

“Um… I was just informed that there has been an… uh… accident concerning the World Trade Center. Apparently a plane has… uh… crashed into the North Tower. If any students need to make a phone call concerning the accident, please send them down to the main office. There is news coverage going on if you wish to follow what is happening,” the principal said. For the first time in my three years at the school, he sounded nervous. Cameron Fuller immediately launched out of his seat – his uncle worked in one of the towers. He didn’t know which one. Mrs. Busch flicked on the TV, and we were confronted by pillars of smoke billowing from the North Tower.

“Oh, my god,” she whispered. “That’s terrible.” We were all silent. Corpses talk more than we did. “Does anyone else have family in the tower?” A couple of whispers and head shakes were issued, but most stayed silent. That live footage seemed to be using psychological warfare against us. The longer we watched it, the more it seemed to eat away at us. We had only been watching it for ten or so minutes, but a number of my classmates were already in tears. Cameron was long gone – his mother had picked him up.

I stared at a blank page in my notebook, my pencil wobbling with my shaking hand. What time is it? It felt like an eternity since the plane hit. 9:02. I wanted to draw something, anything, even scribbles. But my hand was numb. It wouldn’t move.

“Holy…!” a student cried. I snapped my head up. No. Something’s wrong, my mind screamed. I didn’t want to draw anymore. I wanted to drop everything and go to New York. Help someone. Do something. But all I did was stare at the TV in wide-eyed, slack-jawed horror. Now there were two towers with towering plumes of thick, black nauseating smoke on the screen.

I started keeping a log of what was going on at around 9:20. I don’t know why I did, but at least it kept me busy. It’s 9:38 right now. It looks like the counselor’s pretty booked up right now. Two girls are begging Mrs. Busch to let them go down to counseling, but she says no one’s there. Craig Thomson says his dad’s an engineer, and he doesn’t think the Towers will be able to hold up. He says they’ll collapse. I remember as I was writing that last sentence, the news guy said a plane supposedly hit the Pentagon. Another kid in tears – someone in her family works there.

We didn’t switch classes at all. I guess everyone thought it was best to let us stay in one place and watch the news. I don’t want to watch the TV anymore, but I can’t help but stare. It’s like when you gawk at a car accident. Craig’s still insisting the Towers will fall. Probably the North Tower first, depending on what part of the frame work the plane hit. But its 9:51 and both are holding up fine. I would’ve been willing to bet money that Craig was wrong. I’m glad I didn’t, because eight minutes later the South Tower plummeted and proved me wrong. Even though I was thoroughly terrified by what was happening, and my heart ached for the victims, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. By dad was right here with me, and my mom was probably in San Francisco by then.

It’s 10:11 right now, and apparently a fourth plane just crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. Apparently the passengers tried to regain control of it, so the hijackers on board crashed it. According to the news, it might be a terrorist attack. Some guy named Osama Bin Laden keeps coming up. I thought nothing of that fourth plane. It was insignificant to me. They said something about it being a United Airlines flight. But I thought they said it was flight thirty-nine, which wasn’t my mother’s flight. So I assured myself she was safe. And she probably was, right? Soaking up the sun in San Fran, probably completely unaware of what was happening.

“Sweetie?” I saw my father walk in, his cheeks streaked with tears, and my heart skipped a beat. I rose from my seat and ran to him before he could leave the doorway. “That flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, that was flight ninety-three. That was your mother’s flight.”



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