9/11 A Mournful Morning
“9/11 A Mournful Morning” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Saarthak Gupta, NPS International School, Singapore.
9/11 A Mournful Morning
As soon as she saw the plane, she knew that she was going to die.
“I am sorry Max, I could not give you a good future,” Jamie whispered to the photo of her five-month old child in her pendant round her neck. With that she lay down on the ground with the image of her son in her thoughts and name on her lips. The crash came too soon that anyone looking at it from the glass windows of the World Trade Center had expected.
She had just stepped out of the North Tower of the World Trade Center to rush for the airport. Today was her birthday but it could have been her last.
September 11th 2001 started off as any normal day on the island of Manhattan in New York City, United States of America. The morning sun gazed down at the busy city with an air of exuberance. It shone brilliantly and the sea’s water glittered invitingly.
People were bustling off to work on that Tuesday and the streets were crowded with both cars and pedestrians. Children were saying goodbye to their parents and rushing off to school. The offices were busy, the schools were busy, the houses were busy and the roads were busy. The only things that were relaxed were the thoughts of the people rushing into the sky-embracing buildings of the World Trade Center thinking that their families were safe at home. Jamie was one of them. She was a 29-year-old Indian who had recently moved to Manhattan with her husband from a remote town in Kerala. She had met Paul at IIT Madras, where both of them studied Engineering. Four years of courtship and soon they decided to take their vows before Paul and Jamie took up their job in the same company at New York.
Two years of a blissful married life that was soon blessed with Max, their hazel-eyed beautiful five-month old son. She had never seen such an angel of a boy and the fact that it was her own, made her swell with happiness and pride. Her world was complete. A doting husband and a beautiful child. What else could she ask for from God?
11th September 2001 was not any ordinary birthday for Jamie. Paul had been in London for the past 8 months for his office project. The only time he had met Jamie in these 8 months was when he flew down to Manhattan to meet their newborn son. Today, Paul was arriving from London to spend a week with them. Jamie was eagerly waiting for him and counting seconds to go and receive him at the airport at 11 am. She reported to office early at 7.00 am so that she could leave early to pick him up. She had stepped out of the office at 8.40 am and was walking towards the subway when she saw the plane approaching the towers.
At 8:46 am, a plane, with 92 people on board, crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Jamie was sure that the crash won’t spare her and it was only in shock that she had fainted.
Instantly, there was an utter commotion around her, people were running frantically from one end to the other. Mangled bodies were falling off the high floors and so was the debris. Cries and smoke had gripped what had remained of the tourist paradise.
17 minutes later, at 9:02 am, another plane with 65 people on board crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
By then panic that had engulfed, which was thicker than the smoke that had choked the sky. With soot covered face and constant coughing Jamie opened her eyes and looked at the two buildings that were now nothing but remnants of hatred and ashes of language.
She cried out in pain, both physical and emotional as she realized that she had lost many of her dear friends in that attack. There was soon a sense of relief as she shivered with the thought that few minutes ago she was on the 90th level of the North Tower sitting in her cubicle. She could have been one of them.
She wanted to talk to Paul. He was the only one who could understand how she felt. He would be at Boston Airport now and would be waiting to board his plane at 10 am. “I must call him. He would be worried about me”. With tears welling in her eyes and trembling fingers, she took out her phone to call up Paul. There was no response. “Let me call Rahul. He was accompanying him on his trip. He is his good friend and colleague.”
“Rahul, Jamie here. Can I talk to Paul? You two must be at the airport now. You won’t believe what happened just now.”
“Um…Jamie…listen to me!!!” Rahul interrupted.
“Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s North and South Towers! I was inside the building just few minutes before the crash Rahul…I could have died!”
“Where is Paul? He’d be worried about me…Tell him I am safe.”
“Jamie! Will you listen!” Rahul screamed, half crying now.
“Paul left for Manhattan in the earlier flight. He was planning to surprise you both! I am trying to tell you that but you are not listening to me! His plan was to ask his sister, Emily to bring Max to your office and wait in the cafeteria on the 95th level. He had planned a small celebration for your birthday today. Both Emily and Max would have been inside the building Jamie.”
“Jamie….are you listening?” He sobbed.
“No!!!!! Max!!! My son…No Paul! What did you do Paul!! Why did you have to do that!! ….I will never forgive you !!!! Max my son!!!”
“Jamie listen to me…listen to me Jamie…listen…” Rahul cried hysterically. “Paul was in that flight that crashed into the building...”