The alarm goes off as usual. You roll over to see 7:35 a.m. blaring from the digital clock. You're still tired from the night before so lie back down for a minute, getting up at eight still won't make you late. You turn the TV on to listen for the weather while you fake snoozing, when 10 minutes later you hear, "We interrupt this dream ... program for a special news report. The World Trade Center in New York is on fire. Apparently a plane has flown into the North Tower."
You think, "Man I'm glad I moved from there, it's always something." Nonetheless you reach for the phone, never once looking at the TV to see the magnitude of the crash, then unconsciously dial 10 numbers, get the secretary, and ask to speak to your mother.
"Ma, what's wrong with you all up there. Doesn't anyone know how to fly a plane these days? I hope nobody is hurt."
"What are you talking about?" she doesn't have a clue, having already been at work for 40 minutes.
"Ma, some plane flew into the World Trade,,,wait," ... Listen to the newscaster describe it as an attack, similar to the 1993 bombing. You roll back over to face the TV, open your eyes to see fire from the middle of the building. "Ma, they said it's an attack like before."
"Oh my God, Turn on the TV," she yells to the people in her office. "You OK?"
"Yeah, we're fine over here"
"You know him, if he doesn't have to stay over for a meeting, he comes home. He came from Boston last night."
"Ok, I'll call you back." Hang up the phone. It rings again immediately. Your friend asks you if you're watching.
"Yeah, this is some sh, Oh God did you see that? Another plane!!" You turn up the volume on the TV.
Hear the reporter in panic say, "Oh, my God, Oh, my God, it appears that a second plane has just crashed into the other tower of the World Trade Center.
"This is not an accident. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, New York is under attack."
Hear yourself tell your friend, "I'll call you back." Push off, then phone, then dial the same 10 numbers, "All circuits are busy ... . " Push off then phone then dial 10 more numbers, "Due to an emergency in the New York area…" Push off then phone then dial …
"Marie, what's going on."
"I don't know, they're evacuating everything. I have to call you back, everybody is down in that area." "I can't reach Ma, I talked to her before, but I can't get through now." "I got it, I'll call you back, bye." "Bye." Push off, phone rings back.
"You OK?" "No." "Your parents?"
"I think so." phone clicks.
"You OK?" "No." "What about your folks?" "I think they're fine. I'll call you back, somebody's on the other line." Push phone, "Hello," phone clicks, "I'll call you back" Push phone, "Hello."
"Yeah, Anita's fine, Salimah's fine, Elaine didn't go to work today, Diana got out, Michelle is taking pictures, and we can't find April, but Linda's fine."
"You can't find April, what floor was she on?" "24." "Oh no, no, she's going to be fine,,,Oh Sh … they just hit the Pentagon." "Hell no."
"Did you get ma"
"Nothing but cell phones are working, and they're about to stop too." Phone clicks, "I'll call you back,,,let me know about April." Push phone, "Babe, don't go to your meeting today." "I'm not, I've got to find some people, I talked to ma but I don't know about my dad."
"It'll be OK, but you know if they hit the Pentagon and the World Trade, the Dirksen, Sears Tower and all of those buildings here are next. They already closed the Mart. I'm coming over."
"No, I'm fine, you stay at work," phone clicks, "I'll call you back." Push phone, "We found Derrick, he's fine, no April." "OK, what about ma? I didn't know Derrick was missing too." "Can't get through. Yeah he was." Phone clicks, "I'll call you back." And this becomes the tag game you play for the rest of the night.
Your fingers and your heart hurt because you don't know and can't get through to find out. The phone rings at seven, Dad's voice on one receiver and mom's on the other, "We've been trying to call you all night. We're both OK."
You breathe deep, until you remember April is still missing. Tell your parents you love them, and yes, you'll be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and anything else that might come in between or before. Dad says, "Welcome to the real world darling, and oh, you can bring your friend home with you if you want."
Push off. Hit volume. Watch the news special, The Faces of America. You watch for a whole 20 minutes before you see a face of color, a woman of color, but no obvious LGBT person at all, except the woman electrician who you think could be gay but didn't say it, who worked for the World Trade Center for 15 years and survived by falling to the sub-basement. Phone rings. Push phone, hear … .
"Hey, we still can't find April. Linda's been to most of the hospitals, but because she's not the next of kin they won't let her near any of the patients."
"Well, did she tell them that she IS April's next of kin? What's that about?"
"I know, who's gonna care about her looking for her lover with all those high-powered executives missing?"
"Call me back, I think I'm sick."
You hit volume on the remote and continue to watch the faces of America. You watch media person after interviewer talk to people holding pictures of missing loved ones, and wonder if anyone is going to stop Linda and ask her to tell her story,,,a Latin femme, looking for her Black Butch Stockbroker ( not legally recognized in this country ) wife.
Then you think about the number of untold stories that will be lost when documentaries, movies of the week, motion pictures, biography channels and any other venue that will portray the loss of human life during this attack in some sort of artistic format start to emerge.
You think about Anna Deveare Smith and the interviews she conducted for her Broadway plays, Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities, and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992. You think about yourself as a writer, and what it means to call yourself that. Should you even delve into this to try to recreate memory of stories untold told and probably would never have been stories at all if this didn't happen. And who do you think you are that you can even attempt this feat. But nonetheless, you are hurting to the point of throwing up every 10 minutes, so this is obviously a calling you can't control. So you send an all call to your artist and writer friends, and ask them to start sending you their stories. This is an event that can't go undocumented and the people viewing the Faces of America need to know the whole spectrum of lives lost.
The phone rings, push phone…
"Hey, they found April, but now we're missing two others." "That's OK, I'll be home this weekend. Make sure Linda and April are around. I need to talk to them."