I was shocked awake by the sound of the sky cracking open. The initial shriek of sound snapped me awake, and I was conscious in a second or two, eyes popping open, brain screaming on, fingers clutching the sheets. Slid open the screen by the futon and the shriek faded into lower grumblings that tumbled across the whole sky, and the city felt tiny beneath it. It had come from the south. Across the river.
They say that the day that Little Boy atomic bomb was dropped on
I am not generally a paranoid person, but on that morning every one of my senses was screaming that something was very wrong as my brain tried to calm itself down. My brain decided to check what time it was, and when I flipped open my cell, there was the date right beside the “5:31 AM”: September 11, 2006. Fuck. I thought about flipping on the news, but my apartment doesn’t have a TV, a radio, it isn’t connected to the internet. I decided to stand up. I put on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. I looked out into the streets again. A man with an umbrella and a grey suit was calmly walking towards the train station. I went to the fridge and drank some juice out of the carton. Pineapple juice. Why did I have pineapple juice? I never buy pineapple juice. And what had that noise been? The sky was bright, I didn’t even see rain. A North Korean warhead? An Al Qaeda attack, coordinated all over the world, metropolis’ crumbling? Like I said, I don’t usually think like this.
I was standing in front of my kitchen sink with the carton of pineapple juice in my hand when the second explosion hit. I rushed back to the window and searched the sky, which was still beautiful, clear and orange. Was that the sound of thunder? Could thunder sound like that? So sharp, so loud? It sounded like it came from far to the south, but it felt like I’d been jabbed in the chest. Should I call someone? Would they be awake too? Could they have slept through that? Were they injured? I looked out the sky and suddenly felt how tiny I was in this city, how tiny I was without the trains, without the flights home, without the phone, without the power of the city gushing to push me through it. I looked out at the city and wondered if it was dead, if the law had cracked open, who I could trust with my life. The closest I had ever come to feeling like this was five years ago, when I sat alone in my living room in Oberlin, Ohio, listening to NPR, Karl Castle’s voice shaking as he said: “We don’t know what has happened. A plane has flown into the
As you know,