Away From Tragedy
Author's note: I didn't know much about what i was doing, but once it got started it was much like the snowball... Show full author's note »
The Beginning--IntroWhen I was little, I remember going to work with my mother. When she could, my mother took me to work with her. I remember being carted into one of a million yellow cabs, and staring out the window to look outside. The buildings were towering, and metallic--at that age I had almost thought them to be giants. The hustle and bustle of the city had awed me as well; dozens of handfuls of people walked the streets and sidewalks, some in crisp black suits and others in everyday clothes. A strong smell
My mother’s building was even more fantastic than any other, I had thought. It was tall, and perfect, with windows going up and down. Even better, the building was a twin, with an identical building right next to it. Inside the structure were dozens of people going about their everyday business. My mother had always nudged my back once we got inside, to hurry me towards the elevator. I remember the sheen of the elevator panel showing near 100 buttons, and the pant legs of the people before me.
My mother’s office was high up, and while everyone else was clearing out the elevator at lower levels, still, my mother and I journeyed upwards. The actual room was larger than my entire bedroom and was modernly styled.
The view was spectacular. You could see the entire cityscape, from the water to the rest of the city—a mass of gray against a clear light blue sky. Sometimes I would sit there, putting my little fingers on the glass, creating smudges on the previous immaculate windows.
Today is like those days.
Only, near 10 years have passed since my mother last took me to work with her, and the circumstances are very different. Today, I am bored, rather than awed. My mother’s building feels more like a prison, than a castle. I feel like I have invisible chains around my hands and feet, and my mother calmly nudges my back like she always used to do, to get me to walk towards the elevator.
I look back only to scowl at my mother, angry for more reasons than I can bear. As we walk into the elevator, so do another horde of people, and this time I can see more than pant legs. I cross my hands over my chest as my mother gently reaches over and punches the floor number. I look away. Then the sensation of vertigo lifts my body up, up, up, and I take a deep breath.
Corny elevator music fills the small, cramped space as ding! one by one people start to exit. Soon enough, my mother and I are nearly alone, and I hear a satisfying ding! as the elevator announces our level. My mother walks out, striding confidently forward; and I file behind. I just can’t shake the feeling of a prison warden directing me to my cell. She opens the door, and I walk in, seeing that not much has changed since my last visit.
On my mother’s desk is a picture of dad and I—the most recent family picture. I stand in the middle, beaming, while my father and mother both look like they’d rather be somewhere else. We don’t usually have normal family dynamics—ours are strained and tense.
“Stop frowning like that, Anna. Could you not look happy for once?” my mother says, settling down at the desk, not even taking a glance at me.
“Stop worrying, mother. You’re going to give yourself an ulcer.” I respond.
At this, she peeks a look at me behind her computer, her expression stern and reprimanding.
“Anna, I swear I will—“ she trails off, puffing out steam. I roll my eyes, unconcerned with my mother’s empty threats.
I walk towards the window, content that the view hasn’t changed a bit. I can see almost a 360 view; with my mother’s office being a corner. It is a bright, clear blue day, the sun not quite overhead. A handful of boats dot the water, and I if I squint, I can spot the Statue of Liberty.
I take a glance at a new addition: a bookcase. Most of the titles look dull and informative-the exact opposite of what I wanted. I glance over at one book, The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis. I look back at my mom, my hand grasping the book.
“Really?” I ask, wondering why she would have a children’s novel in a collection of non-fiction and ultimately boring books.
“I had one of my coworkers get it for me. I thought you should do something other than stare at the wall.” She answered. She was touchy today, her mood not much better than my own. She refused to look at me, her fingers typing furiously at the keyboard. I scowled.
Reluctantly I sat down by the wall, neglecting the comfortable chairs at what I hoped, was another act of spite. My mother didn’t even notice.
I flipped open the book, settling on the first page.
* * *
“Is the book o.k.?” my mother asked me.
“Whatever.” I replied, still reading.
“Well, what would you like for lunch? It’s about that time.”
“I don’t care.” I said.
I see my mother staring at me from the corner of her eye. A muscle in her jaw twitches. The T.V. drones on in the background—the news is on—my mother had adamantly said no to any other station. I absolutely despised the news.
I take one look at her, her eyes threatening to bulge out of her skull, her mouth pursed in a fine line, her knuckles turning white from gripping the table too hard—and I decide that it isn’t enough. I decide that I want her completely off the edge, that one more act out of my whole entire life will finally push her off the deep end.
“Why are you looking at me like that?!” I spit out, my words dripping with malice. Her eyes bulge. I judged right.
“That’s IT!” she says, her hands lifting up and slamming the glass desktop. She abruptly stands up, and for a second I think that I have gone too far, that this is not what I wanted. But I let that feeling pass.
“You will get rid of this attitude problem of yours, before I get rid of it for you.” She hisses, her finger pointing angrily at me.
Not far enough, I think.
My hands are still posed around the book, ready to flip the other page. We are both fuming, fury bubbling up inside us both, like an electrical current that if about to rage out of control. I set down the book carefully and stand up too.
“And what pray tell, are you gonna do?” I hiss, narrowing my eyes, unbelieving my mother.
“I do and do for you! Yet you continue to act ungrateful! You always have an attitude, and I’ve had enough of it, Anna!”
I had heard it all before. I felt like my mother was reading off a script. I don’t answer, content to let my mother brew and steam right on.
“Why must you be so ill all the time?”
“Ill?! How would you know? You’re never there! You’re never home! You and dad, it’s always work, work, work, with you two!” I blurt out, unsatisfied.
“I work for you!” she says. “So you can have everything you want. So you can have a good life!”
“Oh, you can just—“ I start to say. I was just about to tell her where she could stuff her “good life”.
In the corner of my eye I can see the outline of a plane getting bigger fast. It’s aiming right towards us, with no intention of stopping. I scream, a shrill sound that pours my mouth in a terrified shriek. I lift my hand up, and point towards the window. The plane is angled towards a couple levels below us.
It seems like everything goes in slow motion.
My mother whips around, slowly, ever so slowly, towards the window. I can see her eyes widen and her mouth opening for a scream. I start to hear the screams of others below and above us, a collective sound of fright.
I watch the plane plummet towards us.
It’s not going to stop, I think.
My mother’s head whips back to me, and her mouth opens and she says something indistinct. Yet I can’t hear her, I can’t hear anything except millions of screams.
The plane crashes below us, the impact sweeping me off my feet. The room shakes and appliances crash and break. Clouds of smoke and fire envelope outside the windows. We both fall down, my head hits hard on the floor.
My vision starts to fade away, the edges diminish to black, and soon enough I am under, my entire body going slack and my mind far away from this place. I am falling away from this disaster. The last things I see are the windows, breaking and cracking into millions of little pieces, and fluttering down to the floor, like little glass birds, flying away from tragedy.