Message: SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
I was supposed to be at work at 8:30 for a meeting, a meeting I had called, a meeting I was in charge of, a meeting … I had completely forgotten about. I sauntered into the office at nine and casually headed to my desk. My fellow manager immediately gave me grief about the meeting and how this kind of thing simply can not happen. “Shit!” Not a good way to start off the morning.
At 9:15 I was hard at work, a little depressed that people had come in early counting on me and I had let them down. Suddenly, I heard some talk outside the office of a plane that had hit one of the twin towers at the world trade center. It didn’t mean anything to me. I immediately thought, “Jesus, that sucks,” but thought of it in the same way I would about a car crash I hear on the news. I couldn’t believe I missed that stupid meeting. I kept working.
Someone suddenly called out, “Hey man, you should come listen to this.” I walked out of my office and saw staff members sitting there, listening to the radio. Another plane had hit the other tower. Then we heard that a plane hit the Pentagon. Then a plane crashed outside of Pittsburgh, PA. My eyes started darting back and forth. What the hell? We … we were under attack. Today. No warning. I caught myself looking up for no reason. What the hell was going on? One of the towers collapsed. Then the other one. People dead. Twin towers … gone. We all just … just sat there. Impotent.
I expected the attacks to go on all day, but they didn’t. Four planes. The rest were accounted for. Hours went by. It was over.
My wife and I work together and at about three in the afternoon we took a walk outside. Just to … to get away from the madness. We walked to one of the benches that outlined a fountain in the town square. The fountain was a large square on ground level where water would randomly spurt out at different places. Parents would always bring their children there in bathing suits and let them play. Today it was empty except for one older gentleman, easily in his late sixties, and he was walking a little girl, who looked to be about three, through the fountain. Every time the water spurt, the little girl would laugh-scream and the older man would quicken his step until they were safe outside the square. Then they would turn around and head back toward the danger, he walking right behind her, she reaching up and holding his fingers so as not to fall.
My wife closed her body into mine and rested her head on my shoulder. The sky was perfect blue, dark and bright at the same time, comic book blue. And the yellows and reds and greens of the surrounding buildings made everything a cartoon. Trees rustled peacefully and I closed my eyes, listening to the sudden sounds of water splashing and a small girl laughing and with my wife in my arms, I thought, “Everything is perfect.”
Then I heard a new sound and when I opened my eyes I saw a plane in the sky and my heart started beating faster and I just froze, watching the white streak stain a scar across the sky and the sadness overwhelmed me because I knew. It was all different now. Everything was different.
Jimmy Mak is the head writer for Shadowbox Live, the largest resident theater company in America. Learn More at Shadowboxlive.org