Warning: This is about 9/11. Many people feel uncomfortable about this kind of thing, but ignoring it sadly won't make it go away and definitely won't make it any better.

Criticism is appreciated and expected. I can't learn from my mistakes if I never know them!

A Tragedy Not Yet Forgotten

Hopelessness, the feeling of being unable to control or help one's circumstances. Or is the word "helplessness"? I can only sigh and shake my head at such trivial concerns like word usage, especially at a time like this. We caught a glimpse of our fate just a few moments ago, and let me tell you, it isn't pretty. We knew we were all going to die and there was nothing we could do about it. We have about ten minutes left, if even that. Still, time seems to be creeping unbearably by.

After witnessing what was in store for us, people started losing it. I am one of the luckier ones; one of the few people staring straight ahead, resigned to our inevitable destiny. I think if I look anywhere else I will go insane or throw up. Everyone is crying and screaming and above the din I can hear people praying.

Numb. That is how I feel as a whirlwind of thoughts race through my head. Part of me wishes it would hurry up and get over with, while the coward in me wants to curl up into a ball and cry, hoping with a desperate hope that someone, anyone will stop this madness and save us. I want to scream, to escape, to… to do something, anything, to save myself. Johnny, little Trevor… God no…But it is hopeless. Even if there was enough time, we couldn't fight them. They are few and their weapons are small, but they know how to use them well enough and how to improvise when needed. So I am numb.

They don't even bother to make us calm down. What's the point, now? I can see them from here, gathered in a circle, heads bowed. I assume they are praying. A bald man seated a few rows in front of me suddenly starts trying to bust his window open. He is easily subdued. The killer glares at us, cowing us into submission, before returning to his fellows to pray. A woman grabs his wrist as he walks by. She manages to sob "Why?" a few times with pleading eyes before he shakes her off in disgust. She slumps to the floor in a crying mess and is helped back into her seat by the man seated next to her.

Why? I wish I had an answer to this, but I don't. None of us know more than we can conclude; beyond that we are clueless. Not that it matters. Understanding why won't save anyone; it would most likely only make us feel worse. It is my first time flying. I never liked the thought of it, but going by plane was the only way I could make it back in time for my son's birthday party tonight. I had promised Tommy when I left that I would make it back. Even as a child he realizes the validity of my word. I have never broken a promise to him, until now.

At the time, things had seemed normal enough. It had been everything I had seen on TV and then some: the adjustable padded seats and matching tacky patterned carpet between aisles; the headphones and oxygen mask above (which I accidentally released when I bumped my head on the ceiling), compartments in which to put hand bags and the like. The people around me were as expected: rumpled businessmen in their black suits typing away at laptops, people settling down with a pillow and blanket, little kids screaming and running down the aisle chased by their harried mother and more.

We had just barely gotten into the air. I had been sitting in my seat, absorbed in a novel when one of the flight attendants had brought me crashing back to reality with a single word.

"Peanuts?" she had asked.

I had blinked and looked up. The first things I had noticed about the woman standing before me were the tacky navy blue mini-skirt and matching shirt. Closer inspection of the shirt showed a nametag that read Flight Attendant Emma. She had a broad smile on her face that didn't quite reach her empty eyes. She repeated her question.

"Sure," I said. I had always been curious as to whether the airline peanuts were as awful as my husband has always claimed. "Tired?" I asked.

She had nodded and said, "I didn't sleep well."

As I nodded understandingly, I noticed a gruff looking man walk up behind her. He had dark skin and hair, and shifty eyes. For a moment I had thought he was waiting for Emma to move, strange considering there had been plenty of space for him to go around her. I had dismissed the thought, however, and began to believe what my husband had said about reading too many mystery novels making one overly suspicious. I had reached out to grab the bag Emma held, but froze when the strange man pulled out a knife and pointed it at Emma's neck. She dropped the bag,

"Nobody move," he had warned with a thick foreign accent.

Others similar to him had leaped from their seats, small knives at the ready. The hijacker released Emma and shoved her into the seat next to mine; we switched so she could be by the window. A voice with a similar accent as the first man's had come on over the intercom and informed us that the pilot was dead and the plane was in their control. Naturally, we had panicked. The hijackers made us quiet by threatening to attack anyone who caused trouble and knocking out or killing anyone who opposed them. Our soon to be murderers made it clear the only reward "heroes" would get was an even swifter death.

That had all happened about an hour ago. Emma and I had traded seats so she could be by the window. She sits there now, resting her forehead against the glass. Every once in a while Emma's body convulses with silent crying, but otherwise she remains still. "You know," Emma says softly, breaking my pondering. She slowly turns away from the window, through which she has been gazing out ever since we traded seats, but doesn't meet my eyes, "We've always heard of things like this, planes getting hijacked, but I never thought it would ever happen… I…" she breaks down into tears. I am not sure what to say. It only now occurs to me how young she must be. She couldn't be older than twenty-five. I myself am only thirty-one. I rub her back and urge her to go on.

"I-I never got t-t-to make up with George!" she finally sobs.

"Who?" I ask.

"M-my boyfriend…" she manages to say before collapsing into tears once more. I give her a hug and continue to rub her back, even as I fall back into my own thoughts. My husband, my son, my family and friends; I had almost forgotten about them. I wish I could have told them that I loved them, just one last time. My eyes wander as I think and I spot a man in a crisp business suit, typing on his laptop. For a moment I am aghast. How on Earth could someone be working at a time like this? I look closer and notice that he is sending an e-mail. Something in my mind clicks. Of course! Why hadn't I thought of it sooner?

I can feel my eyes widening as it hits me.

"I have a plan," I whisper to Emma.

"What?" she asks, giving me a strange look.

"Shh… listen…" I try to coax. I don't know why I feel such an urgency to be quiet. Part of me fears, even now, on the brink of death, getting caught by the hijackers.

"What's in it for me?" she immediately prompts.

Her selfishness shocks me; until I realize that I am not any better than her.

"The chance to talk to George," I say. Any objections she might have had dissipate.

Somewhere in the West Coast: 5 minutes later

"Dad, when's Mom gonna get home?" six year old Trevor asked as he followed his dad inside the house.

"Mom will be home soon, son, just be patient," his father said.

Trevor pouted. "She promised. She promised she'd make it!" tears streamed down his cheeks. "I want Mom, Dad! I want Mom!" he sobbed. Just then the phone started to ring from the living room. It was no contest as to which would get his father's attention. Johnny set down his car keys with a sigh and scooped his young son into his arms. The answering machine could get it. He could always call whoever it was back.

"It's gonna be ok. Shh… shh. Don't cry. Mom will be home any minute," Johnny cooed.

The answering machine picked up and a familiar message rang throughout the room. "This is the Mason's residence. We are not home right now…"

"B-b-but you said th-that an h-hour ago!" Trevor croaked over the machine.

"…but if you could leave your name and number we will get back with you as soon as possible."

"Mom's fine… she's just a little delayed. I'm sure she'd call-"

BEEP.

As if on cue his wife's voice could be heard over the static on the machine and the pandemonium in the background.

"Honey? Honey, are you there…?"

Trevor perked up immediately. "Mom!" he said, but was quieted by Johnny, who had suddenly gone stiff and set him down. The desperation in his wife's voice made Johnny rush to the phone holder.

"Johnny…? Trevor…?"

It was empty. "Where is it?" he muttered. He recalled hearing it in another room. Trevor followed and watched his father into the next room. As Johnny desperately searched for the phone his wife's voice echoed almost hauntingly throughout their small home.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I just… I…" a choked sob was heard from the other end, "I love yo-"

The machine cut off, his hand on the phone.

Criticism accepted. R&R

Please do let me know your opinions. Ehh, I've never flown and can't think of what else to describe in order to set the scene. Is there anything that I'm missing? Suggestions? Don't be afraid to criticize or suggest a change.

If anyone knows off the top of their head the exact cities in the West Coast that the planes were, then that'd be appreciated. I'll look it up eventually.