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9/11: Sara's Story
I was inspired to write this piece by my 8th grade writing teacher. She has told me stories about her husband and how he was in Downtown Manhattan when 9/11 happened. It inspired my to write from another point of view of a woman.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My eyes squinted as the sun beamed into my eyes through my bedroom window. I hit snooze on the alarm and rolled out of the bed. I slid on my house shoes. I trudged into the kitchen, wishing for the sweet, hot taste of my morning coffee. I popped a bagel in the toaster and topped it with some cream cheese. I sat on the couch with my remote and turned on the TV. As I enjoyed my breakfast and my TV program, I gazed out the window, watching the cabs swish through the streets with a honk here, a car door slam there. All the commotion of the city sat upon me as my happy place. The lights...the noise...everything seemed to be perfect. I put on my work outfit and ran out the door.
I usually walk to work, but today I decided to take a cab. The cold air was like a big slap in the face and I tried quickly flag the yellow vehicle down. The cab radio was, like always, annoying 80’s rap music. I got out of my first cab and ran out to a new apartment complex where my best friend, Wendy, lives. She was sitting on her couch, watching TV as I was doing earlier that morning. As soon as I walked in the room I smelled something strange. “What is that smell?” I asked. “Oh nothing.” She replied. Wendy is always up to something. Whether it be going to clubs, getting a new man every week, or just being someone that she’s not. Wendy has always been my best friend as long as I have lived in New York but I find myself worrying about her a lot of the time. She is kind of a wild child at times which is a little upsetting, but I always remember to look around it. I’m more of a stay-at-home-and-watch-netflix kind of girl. We said our goodbyes and then I departed Wendy’s apartment. Her apartment is pretty close to my job so i just decided to walk.
The sidewalk was already buzzing with people. Sometimes, I just feel like a sardine in a can: cramped, cold, and in the dark. I miss my family a lot here. No one is like they are at home. It’s crazy what kind of people live in this place, but more like the world. All of these questions went through my mind as I walked. I kept thinking to myself until I realized that I was at the front door of my job. I quickly grabbed my keys out of my book bag. I jittered in the cold air and finally got my key into the lock. I twisted it back and forth until I heard the click. That click was like the angels singing as the safety of the warm air wrapped around me. I turned and locked the door and with a flick of the switch, the whole place lit up like New York is at night. I walked behind the front desk and then turned my laptop on.
I turned on the Today Show on the big TV in the corner of the daycare and then turned on our sign. It was so bright and mesmerizing. It read, “Nancy’s Daycare Center”. I put on my name tag and unlocked the door for the public. It was all calm until a little girl came walking in. Her name was Katie Hopkins and she had on a bright pink shirt with matching pants and cute Hello-Kitty glasses. She clung on to her mother’s hand until she left. She went straight to the dolls. Next was Nick Keaton. He came in and ran right through the gate. He started playing with every toy available. Surprisingly, only about 6 more kids came in and finally Nancy, my boss. She greeted me, the kids, and then went into her office. I sat at my chair, watching the TV, until I felt a tug on my shirt. I looked down and I saw two big blue eyes staring back up at me.
The clock read 8:45 a.m. Suddenly, we all heard a loud boom and the ground began to shake. The terror in me was violently shaking my arms. The news channel was yelling out “CRASH! CRASH!” I ran outside and looked up to only see ashes being scattered throughout the air. Screaming seemed to be running through the streets like cars during rush hour. As I looked down the street, there it was. The building was burning, but was that? My eyes searched the building. People were running little a herd of cattle in the road. Car horns were honking, people screaming names of their lost family members. Suddenly, I felt a slight pull on my arm. It was Nancy, pulling me inside. The kids were in her office hiding in her office in the corner. The bell on the door rang and Nick’s mom ran inside. She works only across the street so she was pretty accessible. She gave me a hug and said, “Keep these kids safe Sara. God is with you.”
With that lasting quote in my head, I turned to the kids trying to make them calm down. Katie glasses started to fog up with her tears. I had a flashback in that moment. It reminded me of going to primary school and my dad yelling, “Bye Sara! Love you sweetie!” His glasses would fog up from the cold air. I miss Philly more than anything. It was my home. “Home of the fighting Eagles!” ran through my head until it all came back to me. Katie was now bawling her eyes out. Nancy ran to the front door and locked it. The screams got even louder as I looked out the window. The screams of terror, children, and rage all settled as huddled in fear in the corner with my arms around Katie crying.
My mind was becoming loopy. “Where was Wendy? Where was Nick? Are they okay?” Those thoughts circled in my mind as a CD spins. I felt a tear drop of my face and onto my uniform. The screaming grew louder and louder. The sirens started coming from every direction. I had to see the commotion outside. I looked out the windows and people were just looking up at the burning building. The TV was blaring, “This just in, an airplane has crashed into the North World Trade Center Building.” The truth set in very clearly in my mind.
I opened the door and the ashes and papers from the building were flying across the morning sky. It was around nine o’clock now. The cold air shivered down my spine. Suddenly, a loud bang ran through the air. A large explosion was seen and it seemed like it was right in my face. Another plane had it the other tower. It came in like a missile. I felt even more fear hurtle over my body. I ran inside, locked the door, and swept Katie up in my arms. I had to turn when I heard a loud bang at the door. The pounding made the walls shake. It was Wendy. I was surprised to even know that she cared enough to know where I worked, but this wasn’t the time to argue with her. I ran to the door, with Katie still in my arms, and unlatched the door for her to run inside. Wendy was gasping for air and ran inside. She had blood on her face and explained what had happened. She was still breathing hard when she said, “Timothy...he..is...stuck…in...tower”.
She started to shiver and cry. The blood was running down her face like a waterfall. She explained how they decided to meet up in his office that day. As she was walking in, the place basically exploded with fire, ash, and fear for their lives. She got out just in time. “Timothy. Who was Timothy? Another one of your ‘boyfriends’?” “No Sara! It’s my dad.” I felt another tear drip down my face. For once I didn’t feel sorry for Wendy. Maybe I was wrong about her. Maybe that smell in her apartment wasn’t anybody else. Maybe it was her dad’s? How stupid can I be not to listen to her? Wendy has always try to be there for me and I just pushed her aside. I can’t believe myself.
Her dad was all she had. I remember her telling me about him a while ago and how her mother passed away when she was four. Her brother, Mike, lived in Florida with his wife. She was alone just like me. It all finally all came together. Why have I been pushing her away for so long. The screaming grew louder in my ear. The sun hit me hard again. Wendy ran and gave me a big hug and I felt her blood run down my back along with her tears. I missed the old Wendy it was good to have her back. It was good to have the old me back too. I handed Katie back to Nancy and ran outside with Wendy. The smoke was getting thick in the sky. Wendy was screaming, “ This way!” We ran pushing people out of the way towards the towers.
They once shiny building were now demolished into fire temples of destruction holding people captive inside with its flaming hands. Wendy was pointing straight at the 17th floor. There I saw a silver hand waving in the cold, brisk air. She was yelling, “Papa! Papa I’m coming!” All we could do is stand there in shivering silence. Suddenly pieces of papers were running through the air. I grabbed one surfing through the air. I realized that the papers were letters screaming through their words for help just to see their helpless families one last time. I felt Wendy grab my hand and we ran to the building.
We tried to get in the building but we were suddenly stopped by police and several other firemen. The screaming was getting louder and louder. Suddenly, a group of people came running out of the building. Wendy was now sobbing tears of hope her dad was with the group. Without a doubt, he was. Coughing and gagging, he ran to Wendy and hugged her. I felt Wendy hug me as I stood there frozen when something hit me. “Where is Nick?” I was frantically searching the crowd looking for a little brown headed boy to pop up. Nothing. I skimmed the crowd looking for him. A loud voice took over my mind yelling, “Nick? Nick?” The voice grew louder as I looked over and saw Nick’s mom. I grabbed her hand and without even saying anything we ran to the sidewalk and sprinted toward the daycare. I opened the door and Nancy was sobbing as Katie had passed out on the floor. The phones were blowing with, “Did she come to daycare today?” and “Where is he?” I felt terrible because I was stuck in position that I couldn’t answer anyones questions because I had no answer. Katie was out cold and Nick’s mom was I a serious stage of fear lying in a chair in the front of the daycare. I ran to Katie’s side. She was starting to come to. The sun was now gleaming over New York.
All the news channels were blowing up with the helicopters and reporters. I tried to call the police but I couldn’t get a single call through. The search for Nick now became critical. Nancy was holding Katie in her arms. Nick’s mom ran outside. “Katrina?” I yelled. I seemed to hit her like a brick wall. She didn’t care about what anyone said. If there is anything that I have learned from working at a daycare, it’s that parents will do anything for their children. Whether it be late night runs to Walmart or kissing a bruise to make it all better. That is exactly why she ran to her office across the street. She ran inside and within five minutes she was back outside with her purse and coat. That was the last time I ever saw her or Nick. She was at the bottom of my priority list now. It was Katie that needed my attention.
Running to the telephone felt like a marathon. I grabbed it and flipped through the parent book and found her number. “Suzie?” I finally got an answer but she was crying. She was hurt. I don't know what to think. She was hurt? How could she be hurt? I was confused. She quickly explained to me what had happened. She was in the hospital. She fell trying to get out of the tower. I wasn’t to worried any more at this point. I knew where Katie’s mom was and that was the goal of my mission. Now it was my own family. The TV was blaring, “This just in; The pentagon! There has been another crash!” Glancing at the clock, it read 9:43. It has been at least an hour since the last attack. Apparently, these terrible people have not had their last laugh yet. I wasn’t wanting to go through this again. I was done and I bet the rest of America was too. Katie was asleep now.
The rest of the kids have been picked up now. Nancy left too. She had her own family to worry about. My family was still in Pittsburg. Home. I wish I was there. Without Jim or Will here it was just a mess. I miss them a lot, but right now I need to worry about Katie. The sky still looked like it had a black train of smoke traveling through it when I looked out the window. Katie woke up and she was done crying. Her face was swelled up like a big red tomato from all the crying. I felt sorry for her. She doesn’t know what is happening at all. “Hey sweetie. Feel any better?” I said. “No”, she said sternly. She had a depressed, sad, and tired look in her eyes. Honestly, I felt the same way. For that entire day Katie didn’t seem like a four-year-old toddler anymore. The way she spoke in fear made me think of her as a 20-year-old girl who knew how to always be herself. I wish I knew how to be like. She reminded me of Jim, my brother; scared but alive. I gave Katie a hug and then sent a little prayer through my heart the we would find Katie’s mom or anybody.
The time was now 9:43 and another wave of television screaming came on through the news channel. “This just in! This just in! Another plane has crashed into the Pentagon!” The central headquarters of our government has now been breached. What were we going to do? Just like America the beautiful could take anything else. I was crying but then sucked it up for Katie’s sake. I couldn’t contain myself. The time felt like waiting for cookies to bake or Christmas; It didn't go fast. Suddenly, I found Katie asleep, in my arms and I drifted off into dreamland myself. The TV was screaming again. 10:10 was read on the clock and I was thinking, “What possibly be going wrong now?” Another plane crashed, in a field, in Pennsylvania. My family was there. My parents..My brothers...My home. Everyone I grew up with.
I grabbed my phone and dialed all the numbers I could think of. No answer. “Great just what I needed.” I was just about done with the day. With Katie on my hip, I went outside. The heat from the building could be felt from a mile away. Katie yelled, “Momma! Momma!” A crying, beaten down woman came running from the scene. It was her mom. I put Katie down and she ran to her. With a sigh of relief I hugged her myself. I said my goodbyes and went back to the daycare. I grabbed my things and went to my apartment at a sprint. The quickest I have ever walked.
The apartment complex was cold. No power means no elevator. I had to walk up 24 flights of stairs to get to my apartment. The door was locked and I grabbed my key and slid it in the lock. My windows hit me in the face with the bright, beaming sun. It was now noon. I grabbed my cordless telephone and dialed my mom’s number. She answered, Hallelujah. They were all okay. It didn’t hit to far from her job but she made it home in time. My brothers were okay and so was dad. I was finally relieved from the stress of my day. Over the hours, the sun traveled across the sky into the sunset. I got in my hot, steamy, shower as I washed off the tiredness from my body. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I began to cry. I thanked God for the time he gave me today and everyday. He is the true reason for why I am sitting here telling this story to you right now.
My eyes closed. I was asleep in the comfort of my own home and was alive. Some people say that they don’t believe my story. It is their choice for them to be that way but to them I say all you have to do is trust.