I was buying milk and chocolate at my local supermarket when I heard the news. The Indian guys was stacking the shelves as usual, the customers were milling around the tills as usual, while the tone of the voice coming over the radio round us was not as usual.
“The world trade centre has apparently been hit by an aeroplane – yes I can confirm this, the world trade centre in new York has been hit by an aeroplane and it’s on fire”
The Indian stacked the others paid and left, I stopped and listened.
When I arrived at the studio I can hear the sound of the radio through the floor. I found my own found the station and listen some more. By this time a second aeroplane had hit the second tower, it didn’t need confirming that that had been no accident.
Eventually I went downstairs everyone there was wide-eyed and silent, listening carefully to the staggered statements and misshaped words. The presenter searched in vain to find the correct vocabulary to adequately describe the Images he saw. Only to return again to “unbelievable, terror, disaster”. The people had started jumping they had been hanging from the towers apparently when the second tower began to fall followed inevitably by the first 18 minutes later.
In my mind I tried to imagine the scene the view I remembered when looking across Manhattan from the Empire State Building then I tried to imagine it without the towers.
An empty space sometimes it’s hard to imagine. How is it empty,what has replaced it and what remains. It wasn't until returning home that I saw the pictures of the impact, the fire, the jumping people, and the collapse. I sat for hours the same pictures were repeated again and again and still they seemed unreal. By the time I went to bed I could recall the flight of the plane the angle of the impact and the resulting explosion. These images replayed themselves in my head like some scratched record into finally I fell asleep. I don’t remember my dreams that night.
Shock, disgust, horror, like tiny messages in the mind floated down to us all from a high. For each and every one of us to stoop down and collect from whichever street corner we might happen to be standing on. And still the paper continues to fall.
And now they search for ghosts. Travelling from hospital to hospital looking for the lost. Images for many will be all that is left. Faces and photographs, tears and memories.
The white dust hunters,ghosts themselves now of the person they were a week ago, speaking to metal and concrete,and hoping for a reply. Ghosts in search of ghosts. Thousands of unsaid good byes. They too are there somewhere in the mind, if you stand still for long enough and close your eyes,you might just hear them.
I never expect it to find so much fear so much ignorance so much emptiness. Signs that stands only for signs fills our consciousness so it becomes a shock to us when we discover one signifies something other than itself.
It doesn’t serve us to question for it leads to the inevitable, the realisation that you re a cartoon character having travelled at great speed down the high way, suddenly looks down and sees not the road but the sky beneath his feet. Perhaps in cartoon land you might sprout wings but in life it’s a one way street and thats down.