September 11, 2001: Eighteen Years Ago, the World Changed Forever (Jennifer Semple Siegel)

Collage by Jennifer Semple Siegel
Digitally manipulated (Photoshop)

My story is unremarkable, but my horror was not.
At 8:46 AM, I was asleep when Flight 11 hit the North Tower.
My husband nudged me awake. “The World Trade Center is on fire,” he said as he flipped on the TV, an old black and white portable. “A plane crashed into one of the towers.”
I jumped out of bed, memory of the 1993 WTC bombing smoldering in my brain.
“When I went into the shower, Katie Couric...,” he said. “By the time I was out...this.”
“Terrorism,” I said.
“They're not saying. Could be an accident.”
But I knew.
I could feel the hate vibrating in my bones. A sense of panic.
I dressed without showering and went into the living room. I flipped on NBC.
In living color, we saw the second plane slice into the South Tower.
9:03 AM, Flight 175.
Yes. Terrorism.
Jerry had classes and left for school. On a Monday-Wednesday schedule, I stayed home alone.
I remember looking out the window as Jerry backed the car out of the driveway.
As the world ends, I will die here at home, all alone.
Our college did not cancel day classes, which was kind of odd – I still think so – but they did cancel Tuesday night.
On NBC, I heard Jim Miklaszewski’s firsthand report from the Pentagon as an explosion rocked in the background. “What was that?” he asked – at least that's how I remember it.
9:38 AM: Flight 77.
9:59 AM: South tower collapses.
10:10 AM: Flight 93. Pennsylvania.
10:28 AM: North tower collapses.
It was an eerie disconnect; it was an absolutely stunning fall day, brilliant blue sky, about 70 degrees and yet the world, filled with roiling black smoke and collapsing buildings, was ending.
I looked to the sky for answers.
What other horrors remain in flight?
Three-Mile Island, 20 miles away, a logical terrorist bull’s eye.
I recalled TMI, in late March 1979.
A mass exodus out of central Pennsylvania.
But where does one flee when the world is ending?
I did the typical things people did that day: I cried; I shook my fist at God (“How could you allow this?”); I surfed CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC; I proclaimed my hatred for the perpetrators, whoever they were; I watched as American flags on cars began flapping in the wind and –
God Bless America.
– I waited for the end.
To my relief, Jerry came home, and the world hadn’t ended – yet.
Like millions of other Americans, we decided to donate blood for the survivors who would surely be dug out of the rubble.
The blood bank asked us a few questions: they rejected Jerry because of a medical issue and gave me a number.
“Come back in two hours.” The line was long and not enough blood collectors. I later learned that subsequent donors were told to come back the next day.
We didn’t act like people anticipating their last day on earth; we ate dinner at a Chinese buffet, but our taste buds were numb. We ate because it was time to eat, and, besides, I couldn’t give blood on an empty stomach.
After donating my pint, I still had to do gurney time and drink plenty of Gatorade, despite my full stomach.
Back home and recovering, I tried preparing for Wednesday classes, though I and my students would not have Freshman Composition or Creative Writing on our minds
Later in the semester, students would begin writing about this day.
I called my aunt in Iowa, and Jerry called his mother in Florida; we just wanted to be sure no one we knew and loved was in those planes or in those buildings.
In my dreams, I made an uneasy alliance with the God who had allowed this day to happen; I dreamed of CNN, news crawls, fire, smoke, rubble, dead bodies, grieving families.
Still, I began to suspect we would live yet another day.
And so we did.
Eighteen years later, millions of young people not yet born on September 11, 2001, view 9-11 as history.
The world still teeters on the edge, but here we are.
See, I told you my story was unremarkable.
How about your story?
(703 Words)

Outline of  the WTC debris, photocopied on acetate
(For an overhead projector)


Popular Posts

Table of Contents: Flash Fiction

Table of Contents: Flash Non-Fiction

Guidelines for Submitting to

Privacy and Copyright Notices Cloud

1201-1300 Words1 1301-1400 Words1 14 words1 1401-1500 Words1 15 words1 1500 Words+2 1580 words1 1969 race riots1 19th Century Literature1 20 words1 201-300 Words4 2016 Elections1 21 words1 216 words1 23 words1 263 words1 278 words1 296 words1 3 words1 301-400 Words1 35 words1 401-500 Words6 428 words1 451 456 words1 489 words1 49 words1 49'er1 50 Years Ago: Apollo 11 – First Men on the Moon. Where were You?1 500 words3 501-600 Words1 541 Words1 601-700 Words1 613 words1 701-800 Words4 703 Words2 772 words1 774 words1 801-900 Words2 857 words1 86 45 11 31 896 words1 9-111 901-1000 Words1 A Grave Digger in Search of a Body1 A Reporter Three Orioles and an Astronaut’s Family: The Grand Experiment1 A Story That Could be True1 Accidental writers1 Albert Einstein1 Allegory1 Alternate Universe1 Alternative Definitions1 Anonymous1 AOC1 Apollo 112 Apollo 81 Arizona1 Astronauts1 Baseball2 Birdsong1 Bramble Degan katherinevbt1 Broken Glass1 Cal Ripken Jr.1 Cal Ripken's last game1 Child1 Children1 Classic Flash Fiction1 Copyright Notice1 Creation1 Creativity1 Death and Dying2 Definitions1 Divorce1 Domain Names1 Donald J. Trump3 Donald Trump Mocking a Disabled Reporter1 Dreams1 Dystopia3 Dystopian fiction3 Dystopian non-fiction2 Earth1 Earthrise1 EEVBlog1 Essay2 Essay Poem1 family2 Fantasy2 Fat as a Political Statement1 Fat-Person Manifesto1 Feminist Literature1 Ferry 'Cross the Mersey1 Fiction23 Fiction submissions1 Flash Fiction22 Flash Fiction Project1 Flash Non-fiction7 Flogging the Dolphin1 Fold Me Up1 Found stories1 FOXinated1 Friedrich Nietzsche1 Gate Crashers1 gender2 gender identity1 Gerry and the Pacemakers1 Guidelines for Submitting to Project1 Hard-boiled Detective1 Horror1 Humor4 I Had a Dream1 I Hope This Is Just Fiction1 identity1 Idiocracy1 Jackie1 Jeffrey A. Brown1 Jennifer Semple Siegel24 Just Brown People1 Kate Chopin1 Letter1 Life Changes1 Manifesto1 Margaret Atwood1 Mass Shootings1 Massacres1 Mystic Mouse and Calamity Cat1 NASA2 Nico Tini: Private Eye1 Nicotini1 Nightmares1 Non-fiction7 Non-fiction submissions1 nonsensical1 Ocean Waves1 October 6 20011 On Resubmitting Her Creation1 Orioles1 Philosophy1 poem1 Politics2 Poyke1 Privacy and Copyright Notices1 Privacy Notice1 Prose poem1 Quid Pro Quo1 Revenge1 Robert S. Mueller III1 Scams1 September 11 2001: Eighteen Years Ago the World Changed Forever1 Short short story5 Short story4 Social Media Martyrs1 Spam1 Sports1 Stories That Could be Partially True1 Stories That Could Be True8 Stories We Wish Were True3 Stories We Wish Weren't True1 Story-poem3 Strangers1 Submissions1 Sudden Lie1 Sudden Lies1 Suddenlies1 Suddenly1 Suddenlys4 Suddenlys Project3 Sudenlie1 The Crux of the Matter1 The Mueller Report1 The Nocturnal Visitor1 The Pacemaker1 The Story of an Hour1 Thy Daily Dread1 Time1 Trump1 Twilight of the Clods1 Vote1 Vote it Out1 Voting1 Weight issues1 Wife1 Wilson P. Dizard1 Wordplay1 York Pennsylvania1 YT ONG1 Yuma1
Show more