BY MILES WHITE
Copyright is held by the author.
NONE OF us really knew what had happened; I still do not fully understand what happened. We felt the building shake, the fire alarms go off, and in a few minutes we were told to clear the building. Nobody told us what had happened; I don’t think anybody knew. Some of us blew it off and went back to work. We didn’t think it was a prank, but we thought it was like an emergency drill or something. We were not going to walk down 105 floors and back for a drill. I tried to turn back to a pile of paperwork in front of me but then I caught sight of the black smoke drifting across the window and up into an otherwise crystalline blue September sky. A minute later a girl sitting next to me got off her cell phone and told me a plane had hit the building.
The way I see it, something like this was bound to happen; you can’t build something that tall and not expect that one day, for whatever reason, something is going to hit it. You never think though that you are going to be in the middle of something like that, although we still did not know exactly what it was that we were in the middle of. We just started to gather up our things and head for the exits. I still wasn’t sure what to make of it in that moment, but I started to take it more seriously when I realized that the elevators were not working and that we really had to walk down the 105 floors to get out of the building. It finally hit me that we were in the middle of something pretty serious when we opened the door to the stairwell and saw the smoke coming up to meet us. There was no way we could go down into that so we closed the door again and headed over to the other side of the building, but the entire floor was starting to fill with smoke. We could hardly breathe and then we couldn’t see. Somebody grabbed my hand and we managed to make it to a window and I could see the fire rising up now and I could feel the heat.
We cowered at the window. It occurred to us to wave for help, but that far up, who would we be waving to? When we saw the amount of smoke and flame around us we knew we were in real trouble, that something had gone horribly wrong. I had left my phone in my desk, but people around me were making calls trying to find out what the hell was happening. That’s when we saw a lone plane in the sky heading in our direction. At first we thought it was some kind of military plane but then we saw it was an airliner and it disappeared behind the south tower and we saw this fireball. Somebody screamed that the plane had hit the other building and we knew this could not be a coincidence; somebody was trying to kill us. Some people got crazy hysterical; many cried, but most just watched in dead silence as everything got worse. The fire was burning up through the floor and thick black smoke was all around us; there was no more air inside so we couldn’t move away from the window. I have never been so scared. I looked into the eyes of the man next to me and we knew we were all going to die — right here, right now.
That’s when a woman next to us fell out of the window, flying down towards the street. The heat was unbearable and the smoke was choking. There was not really any thinking behind it; we couldn’t stay where we were but there was nowhere else to go. The man took my hand and he said I love you. I tried to say something but I couldn’t; I was shaking too bad. He held me, and we just leaned forward. The last thing I thought about as I fell through the air was you.