Where Were You?

I was in the fourth grade classroom of North Rome Christian School–in the lifeless basement. Our history books were open. Who knows if we were actually reading or just pretending too. I remember flipping to the back of the book (which we never seemed to get to even though I’m pretty sure it was the same book every year) and noting that it seemed to me that nothing interesting had happened in America for several decades.

No wonder teachers never cared about hurrying up and studying all the way to present day America in history class. No wonder we always got bogged down somewhere in the Reconstruction period after the Civil War.

Mrs. Sensenig was pregnant and crazy. She couldn’t stay on-topic for long. She had a way of making random observations sound so commonplace and uninteresting that you almost thought that they were somehow relevant. I think it took a moment for it to sink in when secretary Mrs. Arnold came tottering in–the tubby, red-headed alter-ego of Miss Frizzle–and handed Mrs. Sensenig a note.

Mrs. S. read the note and dropped the randomosity bomb of the day: “Two planes just crashed into the Twin Towers.” I remember how her voice went down in pitch at the end of the sentence as though she were calmly concluding the nightly news.

Mrs. Arnold tottered back upstairs, and Carolyn started to cry, “My daddy got on a plane this morning,” she bawled, “I don’t know where he was going.”

“I’m sure he’s okay,” Mrs. S. said calmly. Apparently the nightly news weren’t finished.

What were the Twin Towers? Had anyone in my class been there? I bet Richard had. His family always took all the cool vacations. I guess they won’t be going again for awhile, I thought.

Two planes hit the towers at the exact same time?

“No,” Mrs. S. said. “They fell down about an hour apart.”

Wait, they fell down? They’re not there anymore? Why hadn’t someone told us sooner? We could have done something . . . be we were just kids.

We could have prayed.

Was it an accident?

Mrs. S. said she didn’t know.

I put my head down on my desk and prayed anyway.
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