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Stone Angels

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was sitting at a desk, waiting patiently for class to end in Ms. MacIllvane's 4th grade class. A buzzing from the intercom interrupted my daydreaming thoughts as I gazed out the cloudy window. At once the principal spoke:
"Good afternoon students. As few of you may know, a current disaster has occurred in our nation. A mere few hours ago, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.....were destroyed. [pause] Alongside the extreme damage, many of the people held inside the building at the time of the attack died immediately. [pause] Innocent bystanders were severely injured; bloodshed and tears surrounded the premises. [pause] The cause for this attack is uncertain at the moment. However, statements have been made that it is a possibility this event is an effect of terrorism. I am deeply sorry for any of you students who happen to have a family member or a friend in the New York area at this present moment. The counseling office is open to suggestion of early departure for those students who feel a need to do so. I wish that all students take this action seriously, and realize that life is too short to fool around and make mistakes. I am sorry for this disturbance. Thank you for your attention, please continue with your normal procedures."
The intercom clicked off, and the entire school was dead silent. My mind was blank; a little confused by the fact that something like this can actually happen in my country. I looked around the room, and realized someone had stood out of their seat. A girl in our class, Stephanie, walked up to Ms. MacIllvane in tears. Quietly she asked to be excused to the principal's office, and left in a blur of sobs. I watched her departure, my mind full of worry, anger, and frustration.
I sighed heavily, and returned my gaze to my classmates. I caught the attention of my friend Richard. His eyes showed sincere concern, but that was all. Quietly he stood, and walked over to my desk. Crouched on his knees, he spoke softly to me.
"Nora, are you surprised as much as I am?” his hand touched my knee, but I was too numb to feel it. I just stared at the rough deep lines of his knuckles. The lines that intertwined and seemed to go on forever. But they can't go on forever, I thought to myself. Everything has to end somewhere. Everything. I looked up at Richard and met his eyes.
"Rich? Do you believe in God?"
He sort of cocked his head at me in a confused way. I admit, I didn't know what I was talking about either. He didn't answer me for a while, so I answered my own question.
"If God loves his creations, why would he allow this to happen, Rich? It’s not fair for so many people to lose the ones they love. A burden of heartache is never lovely...." I was interrupted by another buzzing. This time it was the television screen. The class turned in unison to watch the live footage of the disaster.
I looked over at Richard as he gulped down an invisible amount of blood. My knee was numb, both from inability to comprehend what was going on, and by the fact that Richard's nail ends were digging into my skin angrily. I winced, and he immediately looked up quietly apologizing. Awkwardly he stood and left me with my numbed knee.
The class continued to watch the broadcast, but I couldn't handle it. I searched outside the open window, and stared at the cement angel just above the entrance of the Catholic Church across the street. I gazed into its stone, cold, hungry eyes, and examined its small, Mona Lisa smile. I looked at its hands and wondered if I fell, would those strange cold hands be able to catch me? Or would they break and crumble as the Twin Towers fell to their end? Tears fell in trails across my rosy cheeks, as I closed my eyes, and entered the safe place of my mind.





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