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Four Years Later This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     What do you see?

In this picture, in this image, what do I see? I see two huge buildings that dwarf a city landscape. They’re tall, solid, firm, while those skirting the edges of their shadows are stunted ... making up for it in history.

I see history, the birth of a nation. Technology spiraling like a whirlwind down the streets, through the avenues. A city of business, innovation ... a town where everyone knows your name. A city with millions that claims to be small at heart.

I see my aunt, and an Easter basket. Her apartment in Manhattan has a landing that juts out like a proscenium. I’m beaming as I drag my father around,

directing him in my play about bunnies, or other happy things. I’m five years old; everything is a happy thing. What is sadness? What is heartbreak? How can I know enough of the world to know that tragedy is something beyond spilled milk? There could never be anything wrong with this picture. Look how blue the sky is.

Look at it again. Now what do you see?

I hear the voice over the PA system: “Ladies and gentlemen, members of the faculty and student body ...” Sitting in a history classroom, I see the board strewn with dates: When the Aztecs rose to power, when the Mayans were conquered, when the

Incans peaked. Then I see September 11, 2001.

Yesterday was September 10. An insignificant date. The next day, the eleventh, an equally insignificant day that passes without anyone so much as noticing it. Until September 11, 2001. I’m in the middle seat of the table four rows back on the right side, facing the door. There’s the voice. A plane. The World Trade Center. There’s the teacher, frantically tuning a radio and muttering a string of obscenities. I giggle. Listen, the teacher said a bad word.

Time crawls, news leaks in. Another plane. The first one starts to fall.

When my mom comes to bring me home, I ask why.

“Because,” she says. “Just because. You should be with people you love, don’t you understand?”

No, no, I don’t understand. How could this happen? How could it be an accident?

And then, I see ... over and over and over. Clouds of smoke fill the screen. It’s not that far away, all that smoke. A cloud of darkness descends. What if it seeps into my city? Will the sun ever come out again? That image will be imprinted on my television set forever.

When I look out the window, one thing burns in my memory. I look up. And I see how blue the sky is.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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