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September 11, 2008

Seven years ago I was riding my bike across Kirksville, Missouri to my dorm room. It was a Tuesday morning. The air was crisp, the sky was clear, and the town was just waking up.

I was 17. I had been a college student and celebrity waitress for about three weeks. I was settling in to this phase of life, and starting to really like it.

I leashed my chariot to the bike rack outside the dorm building: through the frame, through the front wheel, and through the metal bars of the rack. After a 30-minute ride, my legs were a little shaky as I turned my attention to three flights of stairs.

Just inside the building, at the bottom of the cold, cement stairwell, it was quiet. It’s always quiet at the bottom of a stairwell in a college dorm early in the morning. I leaned over and glanced up, through the gap in the handrail. Clear. I shrugged my messenger bag to a more secure place on my shoulder, took a deep breath, and sprinted, two steps at a time, up to the third floor.

I was pretty early that morning. I’d have about 45 minutes to kill before I needed to be at Music Theory, and it was a short walk across campus. I’d found out too late that Music Performance is one of the two most curriculum-intense majors, but what else was I going to do? I had no idea, so I just kept playing piano.

After catching my breath and reviving my thighs, I pulled open the door to the south wing of the third floor of the my dorm, and something wafted out at me. It wasn’t loud, but it certainly wasn’t quiet. Not like the stairwell had been quiet. It was still, but not like the stillness of the early morning outside.

Doors to almost every room were standing open, which wouldn’t have been uncommon except for the early hour. Doors were open, but no one was in the hallway. No one was hanging out of doorways. No one was yelling between rooms. A deafening hush clogged the hallway.

Mine was the fourth door on the right. As I walked, I peered. The first room was empty. In the second room, a half-dozen people were gathered around a television. The third room was empty.

My door was not open, but it wasn’t locked either. I pushed it open, hesitant without knowing why. My roommate, Donna, was not there. She and the two girls we shared a bathroom with were sitting in silence in the next room, facing me as I walked through the suite, glued to their television.

I stood for a moment, trying to read their faces. Considering a question, or a greeting. Instead, I took a few steps forward and turned to see what they were watching.

What about you? Where were you?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 11101100 permalink
    September 11, 2008 6:04 pm

    I was in my second senior year of high school in my acting class.

    My teacher, who also taught Spanish and carried it over to acting, said there was an accident in New York with an airplane and we would hear more about it in our next class. I said, “Hasta leugo, senior.” and went to my next class.

    As I got in there, nobody knew what was going on, until we saw the second plane hit. Then we were like, ‘Holy schnikey!’ and I used it, being the unsaved heathen I was, as an opportunity to skip school. So I went into the office and signed out with the reason being ‘fearing for life’

    After I left I went to the girl’s house who I was dating. I knocked on her door and this was the conversation..

    *knock* *knock*
    Me: Hey… we’re at war.
    Her: Seriously?
    Me: Yeah.
    Her: For real?
    Me: Yeah. Let’s join the Army.
    Her: OK.
    Me: Let’s fill up our gas tanks too.
    Her: OK.

    The End

  2. Johnnie permalink
    September 11, 2008 6:36 pm

    I was sitting in my 3rd grade class doing math, i was really good at it at the time, so even though we were only 10 mins into the period, i was already done, preparing to read the book i brought to kill the other 30 mins.

    the principle walked in and asked my teacher to step into the hallway so they could talk, and my teacher got up. about a minute later she came back, and announced that two planes had crashed into the world trade center. I was fortunate enough to have been there, about 3 months earlier, so immediately i knew the building she was talking about.

    pretty soon the whole school was in the gym, watching the tv.

  3. Jen permalink
    September 11, 2008 9:40 pm

    I was a sophomore in high school, 15 years old, it was school picture day. My class was at a sophomore class meeting and when we left the meeting to go back to our US History class, I walk in and Mr. O’Brien tells us, “the world trade center had a plane fly into it” …we thought he was joking. After five minutes of attempting to make an antenna of paperclips for the tv in the classroom we gave up and went over to the LRC where we proceeded to watch the second plane fly into the tower. During my next class, geometery, Mr. Ream didn’t believe me when I told him what was happening.
    While all this was happening, my dad was working in downtown Chicago, I was scared for him. I was relieved when I went home around noonish to find him at his desk because Chicago had basically closed down for the rest of the day.

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