“I heard someone screaming in the distance. This isn’t your life, Brooklyn. It’s okay, it has to be a mistake. But I realized that it wasn’t mistaken. It was all real. My limp body dropped to the ground, and I screamed even louder.”
“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there are footprints on the moon.” – Paul Brandt
My mom and I were making chocolate pudding as the sunlight streamed through the window. Dad had already gone to work. He was proud to have a job in the World Trade Center, NYC. Who knew that early Tuesday morning would hold a lot of surprises?
At around nine, we got a call from my brother, Austin, in college.
“Mom,” he said, his voice all shaky, “Something bad has happened.”
I wish, now, that I didn’t hear those words. It was all wrong. I was so scared. He continued talking.
“Guys, I’m coming back home.”
I glanced out the window. It started drizzling. Split. Splat. Drip. Drop. Mom dropped the phone. She leaned against the mahogany table and knocked over the bowl of pudding. It spilled all over the shiny, white floor. Mom didn’t clean it up, but her eyes got all misty and the coat of fresh mascara dripped down her face.
“Where are we going?” I asked aloud.
“Somewhere.” Dad grinned.
When we finally arrived at our destination, I still didn’t get it until we reached the ticket booth.
We bought some bright candies and went into the theatre.
The lights flashed and people chattered.
GROARRR! The dragon’s roar had the “quiet-down-now-I’m-starting” effect like Mrs. Tackus, the school principal. As the volume of the theater went down, the stage curtains went up.
A group of munchkins burst into song while Glinda came down in a bubble.
“And Goodness knows
The Wicked’s lives are lonely
The Wicked die alone
It just shows when you’re Wicked
You’re left only
On your own”
“See you later, just going to pick your grandpops.”
“Kay, see you.”
I stared at the white cadillac until it rounded the corner and went off to JFK. Or, as my arch nemesis, Bridget, would say, #THEAIRPORTOFTHENYC. I hated any type of hashtags and puns. Not the “popular girl”, if you know what I mean. I went into my room and took out my diary.
Someday, I hope the world will be easier to understand. Anyway, today I have sooo much homework! Mrs. Robinson had us read two chapters of Esperanza Rising, a math worksheet, vocab words of the week, spelling words of the week, studying for the science test, a social studies worksheet and… well I have to stop now, partly because there is no other homework assignments.
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”
I was working on a math worksheet when I heard Mrs. Robinson’s phone ringing. It seemed as if no time had passed, but when I looked back, I saw her phone on the ground. A look of confusement, surprise, and fear passed across her face, and it seemed long before that first tear fell off her face.
She asked for all the people that had a parent working in the World Trade Center to raise their hands. She then told those people(including me) to go out into the hallway with her.
“My husband works in the World Trade Center,” she started, “and… sniffle… the um… sorry, some terrorists… “
With that, everyone was looking at everybody else. To me, the word, terrorists, was a bright, green, neon sign.
I looked outside the window.
I looked back into the classroom and saw Bobby doodling in his notebook.
I heard someone screaming in the distance. This isn’t your life, Brooklyn. It’s okay, it has to be a mistake.
But I realized that it wasn’t mistaken. It was all real.
My limp body dropped to the ground, and I screamed even louder.
“I don’t want to go to school today.” I looked up from my cereal expectantly, waiting for an answer.
“Well, Mrs. Brooks just texted me.” I peered across the table and read:
Caroline, I hope that Brooklyn can make it to school today. Just having someone that understands will help me, and her too.
I decided then that I would go.
In school, Mrs. Brooks went easy on all of us. She asked us to write a poem.
Colors swirl through the universe bringing hope to all people
Wind swirls through the world bringing dreams that will flower
Smoke swirls out of the brick chimney and out beyond
Sneakers screech and slide across the floors of the gym
Flowers open and bloom across a bright and sunny field
Summer brings freedom and sunshine where it’s needed the most
Snow makes the bitter cold fall upon those not lucky
There is no light or warmth here; it’s pitch Black
Queen sits proudly on her never-melting throne of ice
I stopped abruptly, tears streaming down my face again. I turned on my heel and ran to the bathroom, ignoring everyone’s stares and Mrs. Robinson’s exclamation.
Why did I write TOWER on my poem? Why? Why? Why?
Three years later…
I wake up with gum stuck in my hair and moan. Today isn’t going to be that bad, I think, trying to trick myself. Today is the day we call, “Mourning.” It is either the beginning or the end. It doesn’t matter though, it’s a sad, personal holiday.
I slip out of bed and did what I never do: I made my bed. Dad deserves that, I think. The last time I saw him…
Mom is in the kitchen cooking something when I come down. She gives me a weak smile, but I see the worry on her face. I need to be ready for what was coming next. For both of us.
My knees feel like cooked spaghetti.
Mom didn’t say anything, but I knew what she was thinking. I don’t think I was ready. “Wait…” I wanted to say, so I could run into my room and hide under the covers. It was too late.
I go upstairs and put my black dress on. As soon as I am downstairs, we drive off. It is snowing very hard. I feel the graveness settling over the church. I see a bunch of old grannies crying into lace handkerchiefs. That’s what I saw, but other people had lost something more important in their lives. A part of their soul was taken away. Everyone in the room just lost something important in their lives.
I pause and look up at the congregation in the synagogue and see Mom dabbing her eyes. I realize that she is now a widow. I smile weakly at her.
“It was special, the relationship I had with my dad, but I was too full of teenage angst to see it. But I think he knows how much we all loved him. He is still going to be with me every time I play poker or bingo, or watch the movies that he loved, and all of the movies I loved. He’ll be with me whenever I eat popcorn or have a starburst.”
I look my mom right in the eye.
“He’ll be with all of you too, in all of your favorite activities. Nobody can take away our memories of him. Nobody can, unless you let them. Things happen, and we just have to move on.”
And then there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Dad will be with us all, forever, until the end of time.
Someday, I hope the world will be easier to understand.
“When it’s raining, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.”