Jan was in her car on the way to work when the music was interrupted by a news report.
"American Airlines flight 11 has crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center."
What a horrible tragedy, Jan thought to herself as she parked and got out of her car.
She entered the building to find all her coworkers gathered around a small television, on which a second airline crash was being reported, this time impacting the South Tower.
"Oh my God!" she cried. "What's going on?"
"We don't know yet." The woman who answered didn't take her eyes off the television.
Jan sank into a nearby chair, where she learned all flights going to New York City had been cancelled, and all bridges and tunnels going into New York City had been closed.
The next airplane crash was into the Pentagon.
"I have to call Ilya," Jan mumbled. But all the telephones in the building were in use, so she stared helplessly at the television until finally one was available. Luckily, the line wasn't busy, and a secretary answered.
"May I please speak to Ilya Risovich?" asked Jan.
"Just a moment," the secretary replied, and a few seconds later, she heard Ilya's voice.
"Ilya! Are you all right?" she cried.
"I am all right, sweet Jan. It is a terrible tragedy. I can scarcely believe it has happened in this great country." He sounded as if he were about to cry.
"Me neither. I'm scared, Ilya. Are we at war?"
"I am not sure. Do you want me to come to you?"
"Oh no, that's all right," Jan replied. "I have lots of work to do, and I know you do too. We'll just have to keep on, keeping on." She drew a shuddering breath. "Somehow."
Cindy had just fed Rebecca her breakfast and turned Nickelodeon on. To her surprise, a news program had replaced the regular show.
"I wanna watch the Wiggles!" Rebecca whined.
Riveted by the reporter's words, Cindy shushed her.
"It's been confirmed that all the passengers aboard the airline were killed," he said. "Many inside the building have jumped to their deaths to escape being burned alive. Stay turned for the latest developments."
Mesmerized, Cindy sank onto the sofa and pulled Rebecca into her lap. The little girl stared with huge eyes at the screen.
A few seconds later, Cindy became aware the telephone was ringing and rushed to answer it.
"Are you all right, Cyn?" asked Gary.
"I guess so. Kind of in shock, is all. I can't believe what happened!"
She heard his sigh. "God, Cyn, neither can I. I can't promise to be home on time tonight. We'll be broadcasting live all day as news reports come in, so I'll be here as long as the radio station needs me." A sob caught in his throat. "Although all I really want right now is to be with you and the kids."
"That's all I want right now, too," said Cindy.
At the end of the day, Jan felt drained and just wanted to go home to be with her family. As she entered the house, she heard the sound of the television and saw Chelsea and Gavin sitting on the sofa, watching the news.
"Mom!" they both exclaimed at the same time as they went to hug her.
"I'm so glad you're home!" said Chelsea.
"Are you two all right?" asked Jan. "How was school?"
"The instructors tried to have class as usual, but it didn't work," Chelsea told her. "All anybody could talk about was the stuff on the news. In the end, we all just got dismissed early."
"There weren't even any classes at my school," said Gavin. "We just sat in the cafeteria and listened to the news all day."
"It's been a horrible day," Chelsea agreed as she held her children close.
The door opened, and Ilya entered the house. He walked to where his wife and children stood and enfolded them in an embrace. They just stood like that for a long time.
Cindy and Rebecca stayed inside watching the television until it was time to pick Lindsay up from the bus stop. The ten-year-old's eyes were wide with excitement, and she began to chatter as soon as she saw her mother and sister.
"Guess what, Mom! We didn't have regular school today at all! We just sat in the cafeteria and watched TV all day. Did it really happen, Mom? Did the airplanes really fly into the building?"
"Yes, Lindsay, it really happened," said Cindy.
Lindsay frowned. "But why would they do that?"
Cindy sighed. "I can't really answer that question. All I know is there are evil people in the world, and sometimes they cause great damage."
"Is it gonna happen again?"
"Oh, no," Cindy assured her daughter. "There are important people to make sure of that. We're safe."
She drove the children back home, where they watched television for the rest of the day. At one point, Palestinians were shown dancing in the streets in celebration. Cindy angrily switched the set off and turned the radio on instead. She was still sitting there when Gary came home around eight thirty that night, her head slumped over in sleep. He turned the radio off, then gathered her into his arms and carried her into the bedroom.