of tragedy in New York
By Kelly Otterness
I lived in New York City. Actually, I live in NYC. I'm just here for the summer. If you want to take the time to read about a kid from 9.11.01, here's my story.
Our teacher was reading to us, and then suddenly all of the kids started to point at a shadow that fell onto the blue carpet from the skylight. We heard the plane cross over the school and keep going. The teacher and a few kids noticed that the plane had flown way too close for comfort. But soon we had shrugged it off and were back to reading an exciting chapter of our book.
Half an hour, maybe 20 minutes later the secretary rushed in and whispered quickly and nervously to our teacher. The teacher gripped her arm with white knuckles. One of my best friends was seated right next to them, and she tried to sign to me what was happening. I shook my head to say that I didn't understand. Then my teacher composed herself, although I observed a slight break in her voice when she said softly, "Everyone, the plane that we heard crashed into the World Trade Center."
We gasped. How could that have happened? We started to talk to each other in confused and loud tones. I was numb. My mind wouldn't focus. I couldn't think, and yet that was the only thing that I could do. I couldn't hold it in. I wanted to run from the truth, to hide behind yesterday, when it hadn't happened. Fear. I was what you would find if you looked up fear in the dictionary. Yes, I was fear.
I grabbed a book. I couldn't turn time around, but I could go into a book. I read until my eyes blurred, and the words turned into millions of little people, falling from the towers.
My friend yanked me away from the book, and my nightmare. "What are you reading, Kelly?" she asked. Glancing at the cover she rolled her eyes. "Why are you reading a book about animal tragedy? You already have one tragedy, why ask for another?" I smiled weakly, and she helped me to my feet. We leaned our heads together and walked over to our other friends, who had found a different approach to the problem. They said that we got to go home early.
The smiles we gave were bittersweet, and the hearts that gave them were even more.
I called my mom, but couldn't reach her. I became frantic as my imagination began to run wild about what could have happened to her. I called my dad at his studio, and one of his workers had seen the whole thing happen, and had become as pale as snow. My dad promised to come pick me up as soon as possible, although it might take some time. I hung up and ran back to the classroom where I hugged my knees to my chin and then tore through my desk, where I'd written a million stories, all crying out for me to finish them. I wanted to, but when I reached for the pencil a sharp pain stabbed my heart like an arrow, and I placed the pencil back in my desk, along with all my writing. I couldn't write. Not then. It would be too painful.
I looked around at my classmates. Half of them looked just as blank as me, while the rest pretended as if nothing had ever happened. A man walked in with a German shepherd following him. The dog distracted me for a while, until a group of kids started to joke around, singing, "The Twin Towers are falling down, falling down, falling down. The Twin Towers are falling down, my unfair lady," to the tune of "London Bridge."
Then my mom came in. She asked me if I was all right, and I nodded before telling her that I had called Dad and that we should wait for him. So we stayed with my friends. One of them was crying because she lived in Brooklyn and she couldn't go home until the next day. Then another friend's father had been in the second building at the time, but she stood strong while she waited patiently for him. Finally my dad and my friend's dad got to the school. My crying friend went to her grandma's, and we left. We couldn't go home. We got a hotel and stayed there that night.
I worried about my pet rat, which was left to all the bad air in our house.
I think about all the kids who lost their parents. I think about what it would be like to lose one of my parents, and tears seep through the pillow's cover.
The tears are silent, and I can't tell anyone. I hate crying, I hate it more that the sorrow. But I cry. Oh, I cry like waterfalls. I cry like the rain in the rainforest, where the trees are so tall and big that they almost never reach the earth. I cry, but the pain's so large that you only see my tears sometimes. And when you do, they're a steady mist. The mist is strong, but thin, so that you become numb, like me. The mist fills you, and you want to be able to breathe. And if you leave my rainforest, you can.
I leave. But I come back. Late at night, in my bed, I'm in my rainforest. But I go on. I
live my life. I laugh, I smile, and I can be me. My rainforest is becoming beautiful. I can see light coming through the canopy of trees. I'm surviving.
My wounds are healing. Don't pity me. I don't.