Sep. 11th, 2011

sariagray: (Suzie Glove)

Written for and linked to Suzie's entry at [ profile] womenlovefest

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[Error: unknown template qotd](Apologies for the lack of cut - LJ keeps messing it up.)

I was in Biology class, third period, when it happened, I suppose. We had no idea what was going on, actually, as the teacher refused to turn on the TV. Someone came into the class late, and asked her to put it on, but she shook her head and kept on teaching. It didn't even register that anything that big was happening, at the time.
There was chatter about it as we went from third period to fourth, but I was fourteen, a freshman at the time who'd only been there a couple of weeks, and I generally kept my head down. Someone was talking about a movie, someone else was talking about the stock market, and none of it particularly interested me.
When I got to fourth period, French, our teacher was sitting down staring at the TV, unmoving. This wouldn't have shocked me so much, except Madame Bontemps (to this day, I swear her real name could not possibly be Goodtimes, but it is) always had far too much energy for her tiny body. I didn't know her that well at the time, but it was something I had already picked up on. She was bouncy. She was a bit daft in an adorable way, the kind of teacher to spend the whole period passionately explaining how prostitution in France is legal, and therefore they have unions and had access to condoms and healthcare. I absolutely loved her.
But I digress.
She was sitting there, still and quiet, just staring. She would hush anyone who spoke, which was very out of character, so all I saw was billowing smoke and I still had no idea what was going on and I couldn't ask. That, I think, was when the second plane hit. I'm not sure, I missed it, I was too busy trying to figure out what was happening through the age old art of note-passing.
The way the images on the news were, and the fact that there was no ticker at the bottom (I think there were technical difficulties at the time, or maybe it was just our shoddy classroom television sets), I didn't even know that this was New York until finally some clever classmate got the volume working and we could hear the newscasters.
My mother called my cell phone at the time, and told me that she was thinking of pulling me out of school. I thought she was insane, as I would have to walk (we only had one car) and I really didn't want to. Besides, the school was only a mile and a half away (if that) from our house and far sturdier. I remember yelling at her on the phone, in the girls' bathroom while others were smoking or crying, because she was being irrational.
There were a couple of kids in our school who had relatives in the city, in the general vicinity and the towers themselves. They were called out pretty quickly. But there were no major announcements, no early dismissals, nothing. Actually, I'm grateful. There was a quiet pragmaticism to it that I appreciated. The next morning, I vaguely remember an assembly, and we did something in memory every subsequent year.
Thinking back, I can't tell if that moment changed me. At fourteen, how can you know if something's completely altered your perception forever when everything is altering your perception? We were all unformed then, lost enough as it was and self-centered enough, too, to think it had nothing to do with us. To assume that we were completely above being affected. Would I be different today if that hadn't happened? Or if it had happened later or earlier in my life? I have no idea.


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