Rhian Lowther

Creative Writing Coursework

What started out as an ordinary day soon sparked a feeling of terror across a nation and marked a turning point in American history.

Scolding hot coffee poured down my throat; the burning sensation travelling all the way down to my stomach, lingering for a moment before fading. Gulp after gulp I repeated this process, determined to arrive on time for work. I reach down for my bag placed on the floor in front of me, trying to accumulate the scattered coins required for the payment of this early morning remedy. I glanced up at the waitress before me waiting patiently for me to gather the change. Examining her features closely, my stomach churned; a feeling of jealousy pounced over me. Her youthful appearance was almost taunting; a delicate face that couldn't be more than eighteen, whereas my face wore each year draped upon it, full of the strain and stress of harsh reality. The harsh reality that this young dreamer, full of hope and anticipation, was yet to face.

With a fist full of gathered coins, I retrieved my hand from my bottomless bag. My grip loosened, ready to dispense the coins into the waitress's hand. However the passing of money was halted as a shrill scream was released by a young man outside pointing to the air as if the sky was falling. This one man was soon joined by other twenty or so passersby, gazing up at the sky with a look of horror upon their faces. I dropped the change and rushed outside, almost falling over my feet in the urgency. The scene that appeared before my eyes was surreal; it was almost as if I hadn't woken up and was still in the clutches of a night terror, a scream caught in my throat as if being strangled by invisible hands.

A mixture of vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange burned through the unprepared pale blue sky, blending with the smoke black as the night, billowing out of the towering building in front of me. The smoke seemed to consume the sky, removing all possible signs of colour in its path of obliteration. Gasps and screams escaped the mouths of the surrounding people who gazed with bewilderment at the once comforting sky line and the previous intact building. The feeling of confusion soon transformed into a sense of panic that swept through the crowd of people like a forest fire. I attempted to force a few words out of my mouth, only for it to sound unrecognisable to any human ears. I tried again, attempting to spit out the words loud enough for another to hear, this time the mumble was comprehensible.

"W-w-what happened…" I choked out with the sense terror grasping onto each word I spoke.

"I'm not... I'm not sure" a woman whispered, her complexion becoming paler and paler by the second.

"It was a plane… I'm sure of it, it was flying so low, and then…" the man trailed off gazing at the scene in front of him.

"How could it have been a plane? Why would it fly so low?" I blurted out bemused.

I seemed to be speaking to myself despite being surrounded by a crowd; the other previous two people had disappeared in the wave of people overwhelming the small street.

Rumours swept the crowd telling of how a plane had accidently crashed into The World Trade Centre. My heart was pounding out of my chest, trying to find an escape route out of my constricted rib cage. It felt as though an earthquake was trembling through my body, working its way from my chest as the epicentre. I collapsed to the ground and concentrated; inhale, exhale. I forced myself to repeat this process in order to achieve some form of composure. Just when I thought that the trembling had ceased my heart stopped and my vision wavered as if time had been momentarily paused. I tried to focus on what was in front of me and prayed there was another explanation. Then the piercing explosion confirmed my every concern: a second plane had hit the remaining tower. The sky lit up with the fresh intense colour of the blood red, bright orange, and thickening yellow, renewed vigour to the first deadly explosion.

The swollen mobs of bystanders were silent for a split second as they watched in horror at the devastating firework show. The momentary silence soon transformed into screams and cries, panic once again generating amongst the petrified crowd. Something told me this could not be a tragic accident, this had to be planned, and would undeniably change the atmosphere across America permanently. Before emotion engulfed me my body jolted it caught up in the wave of people rushing and from the scene of devastation. I soon found myself running with them; running for safety and running to escape the reality of the situation. Like being caught in a riptide, I was knocked and jostled from side to side in the sea of people, the desperation of the crowd to get as far away as possible was overpowering and I struggled to stay on my feet and not be swept under by the desperation.

Then hours later and dark had fallen. The area that was once filled with terrified pedestrians was now filled with the emergency services working tirelessly and frantically in search of survivors and those most in need. Two buildings were now decimated, scattered across the floor like an impossible jigsaw abandoned by an impatient child. The sickly night sky was being lit up by the flashing colours of red and blue, resembling a macabre Christmas decoration. Hope makes a brief appears on the rescuers teams, only to flicker and fade when it turns into yet another grim discovery.

After this day, I knew my perspective on life would change; I vowed to be appreciative for all that I have and hold dear. I shuddered at the thought that it could have easily been me in one of those buildings, and how in a few brief moments my life could have been snatched from me, as did thousands of unsuspecting people on this day. I knew that this would be a day to be remembered for its morose notoriety, and in years to come people would look back on this devastating occasion with disbelief and hurt and not lessened by time.