Today’s Writer Wednesday is more of a journal entry than a short-story. I Googled “writing prompts” and found this one:
There have been many times I have been scared. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have in fact peed myself because I got so scared at a haunted house (I was 18…yeah.). But there was one day that I was really, truly scared I might not see another day. And, as it turns out, the thirteenth anniversary of that day is tomorrow.
I seriously thought the world was ending. I had never, ever been so scared in my entire life.
I had woken up extra early that morning. It was picture day, so I wanted to make sure that I looked awesome. I picked out the perfect outfit, did my makeup so well that there was not even a hint of the dreaded “Base Line” we ladies know all too well, and my hair was on point.
My first class hour of the day was Office Aide. I basically had an hour and half where all I had to do was sit in a chair and run errands for the secretaries. Needless to say, it was my favorite.
I sat a chair in the office, looking through a magazine another aide had left behind. The phone rang and one of the secretaries answered, “Good morning, Southeast High School.”
She sat for a moment, listening to the voice on the other end of the line. Suddenly she cried, “Oh my god! Are you serious?”
I looked over at her. She thanked the woman and hung up.
“We need to turn the news on,” she said to the other secretary. “A plane just hit the World Trade Center. They think the pilot had a heart attack!”
We turned on the static-ridden television in the office and turned it to NBC. There was Matt Lauer and Katie Couric, talking about what had just happened. They showed the tower. It was engulfed in flames.
“Oh my gosh,” I said. “That’s so sad!”
As we watched the tower emit dark smoke clouds and heard the newscasters give their theories on what could have happened to send a commercial jet into a skyscraper, another plane rammed into the side of Tower Two.
My body went cold. That was no accident. That was intentional.
Couric gasped in surprise; there was an explosion of chatter coming from the news team. Lauer said, “That was another plane! We saw a plane circling.”
The phones started ringing off the hook. The principal came in and said we were on lock down; students, faculty, and staff had to stay in their classrooms and offices. No one was allowed in the school and no one was allowed out.
Not an hour later, we got word that the Pentagon had been hit.
This is it, I thought. This is Armageddon.
My short, 17 years I had lived flashed before my eyes in a blur. There was so much I hadn’t done yet and so much I wasn’t going to get to do. I just knew this was the end of the world.
As the day went on, more information came in. Some was accurate, some was just rumors. The White House was going to be attacked next. A third plan was on its way to the Capital Building. Tinker Air Force Base was on high alert; they could be a target. News was streaming in from so many different sources, nobody knew what to believe. Phone lines were down, parents were demanding to check their children out of school.
I called my mom.
“What do I do?” I asked, half-sobbing.
“Stay calm,” she said. “Let me talk to the secretary. Go home and wait for Bridget. I have to go get gas.”
“Get gas?” I asked, incredulously.
“Yes,” my mom replied. “They’re going to start gouging; I heard someone say ten dollars a gallon! We’ll need it if we have to leave town.”
That shook me to my core. What was I going to see on my way home? Was it going to be like the post-apocalyptic movies I had watched? Were people going to start looting and fleeing cities for the less-conspicuous countryside? I had no idea. All I knew was, I was scared and I wanted my family.
I got home, unable to remember how I got there. I knew I had to have driven myself, but how did I get here?
Finally, my family made it home. I breathed a sigh of relief.
We’re all safe, I told myself. We’re all alive.
I spent the next 8 hours in front of the television. All regular programming had stopped. For the first time in history, all the major stations—NBC, ABC, and CBS—were sharing information.
At last, America knew the truth: we had been attacked by a terrorist group. There were four planes: one to hit to Tower One, a second to hit Tower Two, a third for the Pentagon, and the fourth was meant for The White House. Because of some brave passengers, the plane was maneuvered to a field in Pennsylvania.
It was so difficult for me to go to sleep that night. When I closed my eyes, I saw the smoke. I saw the ash-covered faces of the firemen and police officers. I heard the cries of relatives of those in the World Trade Center.
We’re safe, I repeated. We’re alive.