I sat at my desk, my work day just beginning. A white stack of papers greet me. Grabbing a pen, I start reading the black print on them. I find myself rereading the paragraph I am on. I can't focus. I rub my blue eyes and try again. This time, my mind wanders into a daydream that I don't pull myself out of.
Wind blows through my long black hair as I stand on the roof of a building. In front of me, the sun was setting in the distance, splashing bright colors of red, orange and yellow in the sky. I kept looking up, wondering what it was like to touch the clouds. To be so high up. To feel as if you could look over the entire world.
I walk forward to where the building ends. My toes were slightly over the edge, as I peer down. I must've been 20 stories up. Everything was small. People moving below look like little ants. Cars and buses pass, without even hearing the sound of the engines running. It was silent all the way up here.
A smile forms on my lips. I feel like I am in my own world. One where I could see everything in a different point of view. One where I can just let go of everything that was holding me back. I feel like I can do anything.
I close my eyes and let myself fall. I was ready for the impact of the pavement against my small child frame but never felt it. Opening my eyes, everything below me was soaring by. My eyes widen. I was flying. I smile wide as my eyes scan everything beneath me. I can't believe this. Wind blows through my hair and clothes as I close my eyes just wanting to remember this feeling. Never in a million years did I think that I would ever be able to do this. Opening them again, a building was right in front of me. I use all my might to move out of the way but I am unable to. It was like I wasn't in control of myself. My whole being slammed into the building right after I heard someone scream my name.
A large man came into focus, knocking me out of my vision. It was my boss Rudi Dekker. He owned Huffman Aviation. His blue eyes had bags under them from lack of sleep. His brown hair was slicked back and he wore a black suit. A file was in his hands.
¨Aria did you hear me?” he said.
¨No,¨ I answered, shaking my head. ¨I´m sorry.¨
¨There is a new pilot here I want you to train,¨ he handed me the file. ¨His name is Mohamed Atta. Read about him and you're going to start working with him today around noon.¨
I nod, already opening up the files as Rudi walks away.
An image of the man was shown in the top left corner of the page. He was tan, with black hair and dark brown eyes. No expression was shown in the picture; his mouth just a grim line, and his eyes staring blankly ahead. I gaze over to the right hand side of the paper. He was born in Egypt and is 32 years old. I read down further. He already had an education first in Cairo which is where he first studied and got a degree there. Then, he went to Hamburg and got an engineering degree. I look over the pilot section. He already has a private pilot license and now I would be training him to be get a commercial pilot license.
I thought back to the vision. That was one of the dreams I had when I was little. I remember waking up crying and have remembered it ever since. It scared me but I knew that is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to fly. I knew even before I had that dream. As a child, it fascinated me being up in the air like all the superheroes were. I soon learned that I couldn't just fly like they could so the closest thing for me to do was learn how to fly a plane. After high school, I studied at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida. There I received my pilot's licenses. Soon after, I moved to Venice with my husband Zeke and now I am working there training people to become commercial pilots.
I wait outside at the front entrance to the plane. Rudi told Mohamed to meet me here and it told me on the information sheet to begin here. It was twelve o'clock exactly when Mohamed came. I introduce myself and take him up inside the plane. I show him all of the controls. That was the first part of his training; to know how to fly a plane. He began to get annoyed with it after a while since he said, ¨Yeah I know what all of this does.¨
¨Oh really?¨ I taunt. ¨Alright then tell me what this does.¨ I point at one of the controls. He got it right. I ask him about others and he got them all correct.
¨Alright show me what you can do,¨ I tell him, and he smiles.
He starts up the engine, moving it down the runway. I put on my headset and look out the side window. A green field and palm trees blur together as we pick up speed. Straight ahead, there was no cloud in the sky. I look over at Mohamad. He had the control wheel in his hands, slowly pulling back, causing the front of the plane to go up in the air. My back hit my seat and then I know that the tires were up off the ground. As we start going higher and higher up in the sky, I make sure I know where the other planes are going and listen to the pilot radio on my headset. I tell Mohamad where to go. We are over the city, and to our right, we pass the Venice Airport Festival Grounds. A ferris wheel was turning round and round. Tents were in a line flowing in the wind along with the American flag that was on each one. There was a massive crowd of people surrounding a stage, listening to the music that was playing. I tell Mohamad to slightly go left then go straight towards Venice Beach. When we get there, it greets us with its white sand that is overtaken by people soaking in the summer sun. Palm trees sways in the breeze. Hotels line the coast and buildings stretch into the sky in the distance. To our left, the sun shimmers off the water. We go to the border of Venice and I tell Mohamad to turn around. He moves the control wheel to the left. The plane banks and he pushes it further having the plane go upside down then back to its original position. I did not expect it. He looks over and smiles at me and I smile back. We got back to the runway as Mohamad pushes down on the control wheel. The plane's wheels hit the ground. It rides down to the end of the runway and he put it in its spot where it was before as he stops it and turns off the engine.
¨How did I do?¨ Mohamad asks.
¨Really good,¨ I say, taking off the headset I had on.
¨I bet you didn't see that turn coming,¨ he laughs.
¨No I didn´t. Nobody has done that with me before,¨ I smile.
He laughs again. We got out of the plane and I tell him that I´d see him tomorrow around the same time.
I trained him for six months. He learned how to fix a scheduled flight, fly charter flights, crop dusters, emergency planes, and how to perform rescue operations. I taught him how to balance, control and operate the plane better and how to talk to the air traffic control. When he was comfortable, he flied solo. He logged all of his hours when he flew and passed the Federal Aviation Administration. He got his commercial license in January.
. . . . . . . .
I took a couple vacation days, the 6th and 7th, in September to spend some time with my husband and help him pack for his trip. He has to go to Boston on the 7th and then go to Los Angeles on the 11th for work.
An open black suitcase takes up most of the bed as he begins to pack with sadness in his wide green eyes. He fills it up with his clothes and everything he will need for two weeks. I ruffle through, making sure he did not forget about anything when I feel his hands wrap around me. He puts his head on my shoulder.
¨I´m going to miss you,¨ he whispers in my ear.
I turn around to face him, ¨I'm going to miss you too.¨
He puts a strand of my short black hair behind my ear as he leans in, looking into my brown eyes and kisses me. His hand is on my face and my hands in his hair. I just want to stay in that moment with him; having him so close since he's always so far away.
His pulls away and pauses a moment before he says, ¨Maybe I should stay here,¨ his voice low and raspy. ¨You know since we never spend much time together.¨
As much as I want him to stay here with me, I know he can´t.
¨No you have to go,¨ I say, looking into his eyes. ¨Your job is more important.¨
¨You can't make me go,¨ he teases.
¨Oh watch me,¨ I laugh.
I pack his suitcase in the car and drive him to the airport the next day. We hug so tight as if it would be our last like we always do. I hear his words, ¨I love you,¨ echo in my head as I see him walk away to his flight.
. . . . . . . .
I got into work and look over the information of the next person I would be training. The TV was too loud and I could not concentrate. I was about to go turn it down when I saw what the latest news was. A plane hit one of the Twin Towers. It happened at 8:46 this morning. It was now 9. The newscaster was explaining that it might have been an accident but they are not sure. I thought of Zeke and how I heard from him this morning when he was about to board the plane going to Los Angeles. I haven't heard from him since.
They had one of their reporters at the site. Behind the girl, the building was on fire. Black smoke started to rise into the sky. As the news reporter was talking, another plane came and hit the other tower. We knew then that this was not an accident. People were starting to run for their lives. I could hear screaming in the background as the reporter says it was a terrorist attack.
A plane hit the Pentagon and one crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. There is a total of 4 planes down and a lot of people dead. I watch seeing and hearing everything that was going on with fear in my eyes and hope in my heart.
I sat watching the TV for a while, trying to contact Zeke but I couldn't get through to him. I bit my nails. I have no way to know that he is okay. Tears start to sting my eyes, but I blink them away. Right now, I have to be strong. I have to think positive and hope that he was not on that plane. He did not want to go in the first place. I was hoping that he got tired of working and went on a different plane to come home.
Later, I learn that the planes that were hijacked was flights 11, 175, 77 and 93. Flight 11 and 175 were coming from Boston going to Los Angeles. I look to see what Zeke wrote down for me on a sheet of paper about his trip. In his handwriting, he wrote down flight 11. I put my hand over my mouth as tears start to form in my eyes. I look up at the TV as it shows a picture of Mohamad being the pilot of flight 11.
My breath caught in my throat and everything seem to stop. I did not want to believe it. That the person I trained could be the reason that my husband is dead along with many other thousands of people.
I sit there for a while, too broken to move. I don't want to do anything. I don't know what to do or what to think.
Soon, they have all of the people that were on that flight. The names scroll across the screen. Every single one that comes by leaves me feeling guilty. I feel my heart skip a beat when I see the last and final name: Zeke Zaborski.
I immediately fall to the floor, tears streaming down my face as I feel my whole world collapse. The love of my life is dead. I can't help but feel like the one who caused it.