Forgotten (A 9/11 Inspired Story)

Ever pictured dying? Being excited for a new day that is happy and full of hope then suddenly being surrounded by screaming and death, your life hanging in the balance. You wonder how you went from a perfect life to the biggest nightmare anyone could ever imagine. Introducing Robyn. This is her reality.

In honour of the 14th Anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attack.

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1. The Story

The world is dark. Grey. Like a cloud of dust circled the globe and covered every inch of it. It’s freezing in here. The rubble’s sucking the heat from the sun and my bones and draining it away. If I yelled would anyone hear me? My ears are deafened by the sound of blood surging through my veins and out onto the solid surfaces holding me closes to the destruction.

The World Trade Centre. A place fit for the high class. The most developed building in the country. Such an amazing place to be. Well now the jewel of the world is crushing my lungs, the air in the small opening that exposes my head is getting thicker and my blood is slowly becoming a pool by my body. Emergency services clearly don’t give a damn about the people trapped in here. They would have forced their way in. They would have tried.

Pain is the body’s way of saying that it’s damaged. Right now, my body is screaming for help. My brain is on overdrive trying to get me to move. To somehow stop the bleeding. Any movement I make stabs me with a shard of glass and my head feels like it’s in a blade.

I’m miles away from my life. This morning was so beautiful. So peaceful. Nine days before my birthday in the warm autumn-like breeze of New York. I woke up with light enclosing me in warmth, sounds of birds singing the same tunes and the scent of Dad’s favourite breakfast. Peace. Love.  A good life. That’s what I felt a few hours ago. Like everything was alright with the world. Like nothing could ruin the little time I had with him. I thought things were going to be perfect today. I hoped they would.

The light’s getting dimmer. I can’t tell whether it’s dust covering my unreachable escape or me fading away. Never in my short-lived life have I ever felt such strong pain. The weight of the debris begging me to stay is slowly becoming unbearable. Unimaginable. It almost forces you to give up. To close your eyes and let nature take its course. 

How did I even get here? Last time I checked I was having the time of my life. A great school, good friends, a boyfriend, a mother who had vowed to stop drinking. Everything was perfect! How did this hell even begin?

I guess if I could mark the start of it all it would have to be June 16th 2001. Justin and I were the couple of our year group. Always kissing, always laughing together. Then suddenly he goes cold. He didn’t kiss me as much as he used to. He didn’t listen to my stories as intently as he did. And when I asked him what was wrong he said ‘nothing’. How could the perfect boyfriend just stop being amazing?

It wasn’t until break that day that I figured it out. He didn’t wait for me after my lesson so I decided to walk around the west wing of my school. It’s weird I know but… when I walk down there I feel less like I’m in a military camp and more in a homely place. At least that’s how I used to feel about it. Up until I saw him at the end of the corridor making out with someone I thought was my friend. And it stung so much when he tried to deny being a cheat. He told me I was just overreacting like I didn’t catch him in the act. No! I can’t cry right now. I have to remember it all before I go.

I was out of it for a good week after that. I didn’t talk to anyone, I hardly did any work in class. I felt like an empty tomb slowly caving in on itself. God being betrayed felt worse than being encased in concrete debris.

By July 2nd the pain had become manageable. I was back to reality. Things should have returned to normal. I should have been a happy single girl. And for a while I was. Then there was that fire. That imprudent fire!

The science department was always a safe place to be. The most that had ever happened in an experiment is someone’s paper towel catching fire from the Bunsen burner but that fire was out in under ten seconds. When the fire alarm sounds in my school, everyone assumes it’s a drill so they don’t take evacuation seriously. People run left right and centre and the teachers only care about the cooperative ones.

Halfway into physics period five the alarm sounds. Everyone grabs their things and walks out. I almost out the door with my stuff when I see a bright flame flicker from just inside the chemistry room. Nobody had noticed let alone thought there could be someone in there but as I stared intently at the door I could hear someone trying to call for help and coughing. Dr Nelson. Our 7 month pregnant chemistry teacher.

I dropped my bag and ran to the door. Phoebe was yelling at me to come back but her voice was droned out by the sound of my conscience. I heaved open the door. The fire was blinding! It coated everywhere except the front desk and the back tables. That must have been God’s favour on her. I reached for the fire extinguisher and flung the nozzle at every corner of the room. My lungs were already burning from the smoke but I held on to the red lifesaver until there was only the smoke left in the room. Then I opened every window out the outer edge of the classroom hoping someone on the field would see the specks of ash drifting out from the windows. Dr Nelson was barely conscious. Her breath was shallow. I wanted to help her but I was too weak to fight anymore. I passed out right beside her.

You’d think that after saving a teacher’s life the school would appreciate you but I guess Hartland’s Secondary school only believe in accusation. The second I got back to school they were talking about pyromaniacs. And I was their main suspect. The fire was intentionally started and the evidence they gathered for my accusation was the day we were all told to turn off our Bunsen burners and I just sat there looking at mine. They forgot to mention that I was still recovering from the biggest heartbreak of a young girl’s life but I guess that’s not a good enough excuse. I was suspended until October.

Okay. The light is about 40 percent darker than it was before so I need to hurry up with this recap of my life. The pain seems more bearable now too. That’s good! It means it’ll be easier to stay awake.

So after being suspended I got some extra time at home. Mum figured that the summer was a good time to have some mother-daughter fun. She knew that I didn’t start the fire and she was still arguing about it. My school is just too prideful to care about what anyone else says. Even their own staff.

Going out was fun. We went to clothes shops, bookshops, jewellery shops and bakeries. I would have more fun if we had actually bought something the numerous times we went out but Mum was broke again and usually she’s broke for a few months.

On the 9th September 2001 we got back from another day of window shopping and I went straight up to my room. I turned on my laptop and saw the emails and the missed calls left on my phone. Everyone had caught word of the pyromaniac scheme. The head teacher just couldn’t keep his mouth shut!

I was furious then. I slammed my laptop shut and threw it across the room. Now that I think about it seems irrational but I couldn’t contain the fury I had bubbling inside me from being accused of something I wouldn’t think to do and nobody believing me about it.

“What was that?” my mum calls, sounding slightly drunk.

The sight I saw when she staggered into my room was the last straw. She had promised me time and time again she would stop drinking after she almost died from it last year. Yet there she was trying to keep herself steady at my doorway, a bottle of vodka in her hand. She yelled rude and abusive words at me before disappearing again and throwing things around in the kitchen.

It was as if my whole world had fallen apart right in front of my eyes. Every person I had ever trusted stabbed me in the back with no good reason for it. What had I ever done to them?

There’s a light now. I can see it through the fog. I don’t have that much time left. Come on Robyn! One last push. One last relapse before you go.

I picked up my phone and called my father. The man my mother had pushed away. The only person I knew understood me.

He picked up almost instantly and said yes to everything I asked him to do. He spoke sweet and loving words as I sobbed my way through the agony of my recent past and booked me a flight to New York.

I didn’t say a word to my mum as I packed my bags that night. I didn’t text any of my friends. Nobody knew I was leaving except me, my father and the people taking me to New York. Those people being the taxi driver, all the people at check in and security and my assistant travelling to New York and my dad’s house.

My father was a security guard at the world trade centre. The job suited him so well since he was so good at keeping people out of places. Plus he was really brave. Really, really brave! He was someone who should have lived a lot longer than he did.

The night before today I had moved my stuff into his house and talked about new school. It was amazing how calm he was about it all. Even though I had just thrown the bombshells of being suspended and dumped and lied to and misunderstood he took it all like a man and made it all seem like nothing. I’ll never forget those words he told me:

“It doesn’t matter what has happened to you in the past, Baby, It’s in the past! And you will always be my blessing.”

I had walked into the twin towers early in the morning with excitement. I looked at all the intricate architecture in awe and thought of how legendary my dad was. All the pain and sorrow of the last few months was almost no existent. The there was a crashing noise that could instantly kill the weak hearted and everything turned into havoc. My dad told me to run. To follow the police men through the elevator shaft. Then he was crushed by concrete.

And here I am now. In the middle of life and death. Ready to leave because I’ve finished my story. I know that I was a victim of life and that life itself is cruel and spiritless. I will never forgive the people that pushed me away. That led me here. But the one person I will forgive is my father. Because I know he meant me no harm.

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