Monday, September 11, 2006

Paper.

One thing I never hear about is the paper that filled the sky that day.

See, I live in the middle of Brooklyn, across the East River from the island of Manhattan, about level with downtown NYC. The towers had fallen. I don't remember how long had passed, but we were in the path of an easterly wind that turned the sky a weird color -- the blue had been washed out by gray. That was the smoke and ash making the air scratch your throat when you breathed.

It was so quiet where we were. Nobody in the streets. No traffic. No sirens. No sirens, because every cop car and every fire engine and every ambulance was somewhere else, somewhere important. I stuck my head out of my kitchen window to listen to the nothingness.

And then, looking up at the sky, I saw...paper.

Just sheets and sheets of plain white copy paper, floating on the breeze.

Can you imagine it?

I thought of all those hundreds of business offices that occupied the Towers. All the reams of paper they had stored in their supply closets. All of them loosed and scattering in the acrid wind. Gently, like feathers. Randomly, like they were wandering. Getting caught in tree branches. Soaring over rooftops. So quiet.

...Can you imagine it?

They didn't stop floating by until hours after the Towers fell. I watched them until they completely disappeared. I wanted to be able to reach out and grab one, but then that would be like plucking a soul before it reached its intended destination.

I will never forget it.

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