“Ugh. It’s too early to be awake. Why did we have to take a zero period class, Sonya?” I ask my best friend as we share the bathroom mirror. She practically lives at my house, so it’s not unusual for her to stay over on a school night.
Ah yes. Jazz. That’s why we get up at the butt crack of dawn during our Senior year in high school.
Just as we’re finishing up, someone knocks at the door.
“We’ll be out in a minute!” I shout. Gosh. Why doesn’t my family understand the necessity of a teenage girl preparing herself for the day?
“You need to come see this,” Dad says through the door. “Someone crashed a plane into one of the Twin Towers in New York.” My dad has a sick sense of humor.
“That’s not funny, Dad.”
“I-I’m not joking.”
I roll my eyes at Sonya, not believing I’m actually going to go out to look at the television. He’s probably just trying to get us out of the bathroom. Feeling dumb, I turn the knob and we follow Dad down the short hallway to the living room.
No. That can’t be real. It has to be some special effect, right?
One of the towers is billowing with smoke. All those people. Why? Who would do this? Terrorists, they say. A close up of the building reveals someone jumping from a window too high for survival. Sonya chokes next to me and I feel tears welling up in my eyes.
I don’t know these people. I have no connection to them. I don’t know anyone in New York, but the sheer loss of so many people breaks me. I don’t know how long we stand there staring at the television, but eventually, Dad says we need to get to school.
Get to school? What? Who can concentrate on our education at a time like this?
Dad has his no funny business voice on, though, so we leave. We get into my little lime green VW Beetle and head to school. Normally, I turn on music, but today, I switch over to the news.
When we’re halfway there, the second building is struck. Slowing down way below the speed limit, I sob. I know my makeup is ruined, but I don’t care. I don’t think Sonya does either.
After parking, we enter the school. TV’s in all the classrooms are on the news. I peek inside to see both buildings now smoking. The hallway in front of the choir room holds several dazed classmates. All we can talk about is what’s going on.
Entering the choir room, we try to sing, but don’t get very far into it. Within a half hour into class, another plane hits the Pentagon. No one can sing right now.
It occurs to me that Dad is retired from the Air Force. Is he going to be recalled? I cry. There’s no way I could handle that.
School starts, but all anyone does is watch the television. I missed it happening, but apparently, a plane heading to the Capitol or White House crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The passengers fought back.
Finally, the school gives up and dismisses early. The rest of the day is a blur of watching the television with rapid heart beats and swollen eyes from crying. It’s my generation’s Pearl Harbor, they say. It’s a day we’ll never forget.