I groggily peeled my eyes open to see the clock. Eight thirty-two in the morning. Usually I'm awake earlier, but I was tired the night before and wound up sleeping later than I had intended.
Deciding to just get up so I could play with my computer, I slid from between the sheets, threw them over my pillow so my cats wouldn't coat them in fur and reached for one of the pills I had sitting next to the computer monitor. While swallowing the pill dry I reached down and flicked the computer on. Then I reached over to the little desktop calender and ripped off the previous date to reveal the current date. September eleventh, two-thousand-one.
If I had known what the day would bring, I'm pretty sure I would have just stayed in bed.
That was when I noticed the TV was on in the living room. What was Mom doing up so early? Especially with the TV on? Usually she would wake up to feed the cats and then go back to bed for a few more hours.
I decided it could wait another two seconds while I pulled on some shorts and staggered into the bathroom. After finishing my business there I headed into the living room without paying any mind to the TV and went to go get myself some breakfast.
"...airliners...World Trade Center...Pentagon…once again we…" A few words from the familiar voice of Peter Jennings filtered into the kitchen.
I put down the box of powdery-white mini-donuts and turned towards my Mom. She was sitting at the kitchen table in her blue Libra night-shirt with one leg crossed over the other, transfixed by the TV. Her short dark hair was messy and sticking up at odd angles because she had yet to comb it. Dickens, my black kitty, was curled up against the wall behind the chair.
"What's going on?" I finally asked.
Mom made a quick gesture, "Come look at the TV."
I rushed towards her and turned towards the TV and saw one of the World Trade Center towers giving off smoke like on of Mom's cigarettes. What was the deal with that? I was about to ask when an airliner shadowed too much to identify sliced into the second tower and exploded in an orange ball of smoke and fire. It was like something out of a movie, with the crowds of people running away in the streets while the smoke rushed in to envelope everything.
"What the...It's going to collapse!"
"It did. This is taped from a few hours ago eastern time." Mom said. Her voice was flat, like she didn't know what to think. I certainly didn't.
As soon as Mom spoke the top of the first tower dropped out of view. It just dropped away as if someone had removed the rest of the building and let gravity take over. Peter Jennings said something and the view lapsed forward to show the second tower falling. The way the smoking pieces fell reminded me of a banana being peeled. A very horrible and rotten banana.
"Oh, my God!" I stared in horror as a pain formed in the back of my throat, unable to believe my eyes. The World Trade Center was, in my mind, one of the most fantastic sights in the world. Seeing it crumble was like a nightmare. "Oh, my God...all those people! All those people! Mom! All those people! Somebody help them!" Hot tears rushed to my eyes and made their way down my cheeks as I braced myself against the wall. "All those people..." I repeated in a trembling voice. I made the Sign of the Cross and tried to pray on the spot. Then I started to cry.
"They're working on it, honey. Another plane got part of the Pentagon, too." Mom whispered gruffly. I heard the snap of her lighter as she lit up a cigarette and exhaled a cloud of smoke.
Peter Jennings, with his crisp sky-blue dress shirt and tie, came back onto the screen with a grim expression and started to explain what had happened for those viewers who "just tuned in". Earlier in the morning an airliner hijacked by terrorists had come out of nowhere and crashed into the first World Trade Center tower. Shortly after that a second plane had appeared and slammed into the second tower. Then, shortly after that, another plane had slammed into part of the Pentagon.
In my shock and horror I picked up the phone and called Dad at work while on my way back to my room. He told me I should stay off the computer and just listen to the news to see what's going on. I told him how scared I was, as if the shaking of my voice and quick breathing wasn't enough to explain. He just kept talking to me until I finally came out of my funk and listened sensibly.
"For now, I don't want you or your mother leaving the house. Keep the news on and listen." Dad told me. Even his voice was grim and serious.
"B-but...what if this is the start of World War Three?" I blubbered nervously.
Dad didn't answer right away. I could hear him talking to someone else in his office. His voice returned to me, "It easily could be, Cyndi. The world has changed drastically in the last few hours. You witnessed history. Listen, I have to go. It's busy here. I'll talk to you later, OK, kid?"
I heard the click as he hung up and pushed the OFF button on the cordless phone. I carried the phone out into the smoky kitchen, put it back on the hook and got the breakfast I'd forgotten. Like hell I'll stay off the computer... I went back to my room, connected to the internet and sent Father Jim, my favorite priest at the church I go to, an email telling how scared and upset I was.
As soon as the email was sent, I bowed my head and started to pray for the world. For nearly ten minutes straight I sat there motionless with my elbows on the desk and my forehead pressed to my clasped hands. Words that comforted my nerves came into my head in the form of thoughts. Those thoughts became a prayer that I hastily sat down to write.
When I finished, I came out of my haze to read what I'd written.
"Lord in Heaven,
Please give us the strength to withstand the pain of this terrible loss.
Watch over the paramedics and firemen working in the damaged areas. Send them the wisdom and courage they need to help the injured.
Watch over the injured and dying. Embrace them, comfort them and, if you must, take them quickly so they don't suffer for long.
Watch over the families and friends of those who died, so that they can be comforted and look to the future.
Watch over the friends and families of those whose whearabouts are still unknown, and offer them your patience and hope.
Watch over the politicians and guide them to make the right decisions to protect this country. Help them find the person or people responsible for this violent attack so we can resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
Most important of all, give us as a nation the ability to forgive whoever did this in the end.
I ask all these in Your Name.
I had intended for what I wrote to be a poem, but it came out as a prayer instead. A prayer of hope. Hope I could give to others who needed it.
Realizing this I opened Internet Explorer and started posting the prayer on every message board I visited. In the DBZ Dominion and The Gargoyles Fan Website Chatroom. In the Station Eight Gargoyles Page and the Yahoo news message board. I signed up on the ABC News message board and posted it there. I even hunted down the email addresses of several news stations and emailed it to them.
When I finished with that and printed out a copy of the prayer for my Mom, I checked my email to discover a reply from Father Jim. It was simple and short as always, telling me that praying is all we can do sometimes, and that a special Mass was going to be held at seven 'o clock that evening. I logged out of my email and pushed myself away from the desk, sighing.
Flopping down on my bed with my face towards the ceiling, I sighed loudly and listened to yet another re-play of the Towers falling. It made me sniffle, so I turned my face away from the TV.
All those people, dead!
Beside me, hangers rattled and shifted as Mom pulled out a flowered T-shirt and jeans.
"Dad said not to leave the house." I commented worriedly.
"Well, I have to go. We need hot dogs and we're out of your dad's sodas. Plus I need to get myself some more cigarettes." She looked over at me with her hair still messed up. "Why, are you afraid to be left alone?"
"How about you just get the cokes and hot dogs?" I snickered. She looked down her nose at me, so I shook my head and sighed, answering her question with, "No, just worried about you is all."
"I'll be fine. I won't be gone long." Mom took her clothes into her room. She went about getting dressed, brushing her hair and cleaning her teeth. In the meantime, I watched yet another replay of the Twin Towers crumbling down to rubble. More scenes of people running. More screaming, angry and sad voices.
All day long, I kept feeling the same feelings I felt the moment the towers fell. At the memorial mass that night, I cried and cried and cried. I didn't know anybody that died personally, but the loss was still too great for me to stand. Before the mass started, I asked Father Jim if I could read the prayer I had written and he said he would try to squeeze me in at the last minute.
Needless to say, he did let me up there and I read the words I had written in the midst of my pain and confusion. At first I didn't think it really affected many people. I got a lot of thank yous and my mom told me that I never cease to amaze her. Later on I learned that the church gave out fliers that basically said the same thing as my prayer. I still can't believe my words had such an effect on everyone who heard them.
Now, today, I feel very patriotic and triumphant. We are America. We are like the Phoenix. We will never fall.