11 September 2002


Last Year

I first heard my coworkers talking: a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

I shrugged it off. I figured it was some private pilot in his little Cessna or Lake - I'd actually read an article around the same time about how little planes flew along the Hudson River, below the level of the Trade Center observation deck. I went to look at CNN to see what the real story was.

CNN wouldn't load. Neither would MSNBC. Or Fox. Or ABC News.

What was going on?

Then someone said that a second plane had hit the other tower. And they were big planes - airliners.

My friend Kelli had made some banana bread out of a bunch from our backyard. She'd brought it over the day before. I ate some of it.

Someone told me that they had turned the big TV on in the conference room. I went in there.

They were showing earlier footage. One building was on fire, and then something - a news helicopter, maybe - went behind the other building and there was that horrible explosion. I had to watch it a few times before I realized that it was a plane that flew behind and then into the building.

Then they went to a live feed from the top of a nearby building. It looked like a huge section of one of the buildings had just sheared away and plunged to the ground, leaving a plume of smoke and dust in its wake. I kept looking, trying to peer through the dust to see how badly the building was damaged, when the wind freshened and revealed that the building wasn't damaged - it was gone. And then the other went, collapsing from the top down.

And that was it. There was more from New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, but there really wasn't anything else to see. I went back to my desk.

I'd left Sonya a message earlier; she was at home and sleeping late and there wasn't a phone in the bedroom. She called me and wanted to know what was going on. I told her what I knew.

"I want you to come home," she said.

Then a coworker came by and said we were all being sent home. So I went home.

All the radio stations were playing news on the way home. Nobody knew what was going on.

We watched CNN for most of the day. Sonya and I didn't know who Aaron Brown was. I ate the sandwich I'd taken for lunch and drank a beer. I nodded off on the couch. When I woke up there was no news.

We switched to CBS for the evening news; seeing Dan Rather pale and rattled was one more horror on a day filled with them. Some cable station was simulcasting the BBC. We watched. We'd already confirmed our people in New York and Washington were okay; there was nothing else we could do.

I went to bed fairly early. I had to go to work the next day. I dreamed of clouds of dust, and falling. I woke up in the night, looking around the room for the ruined, tattered ghosts I'd been dreaming about.

They weren't there.