9/11/2001 Glynnis Eldridge

Glynnis Eldridge

“This will be our response to violence: to make music more intensely more beautifully more devotedly than ever before."
—Leonard Bernstein

I sat speechless in the empty classroom, listening to the blasting talk radio. Out the window millions of army vehicles sped downtown on the barren FDR drive. Countless amounts of bewildered people were running uptown, it looked like a marathon. Behind everything was a thick cloud of pitch black smoke, which suffocated everything.

“Glynnis, is someone coming to pick you up soon?”

“I think so; at least I hope so.” I stared out the window hopefully.

“Glynnis, if you would like, I live at Waterside, and if someone doesn’t come for you soon, you can come to my house and wait for someone there. I can make tea.”

“No, no, I’m fine. I’m sure someone will come very soon.” I glanced out the window again. The cloud of smoke was expanding.

After waiting for what seemed to be hours, my dad finally came to school to pick my brother and me up. He had almost no expression on his face, only a blunt mix of horror and heroism. After clarifying with Ms. Zacharia that he was my father, he took me downstairs to the second floor, where the Junior School was located. We walked quietly to my brother’s fourth grade classroom where Nathaniel and many other fourth graders were staying. The teacher had put on the movie Shrek to entertain the children. No one had told any of the Junior School students what had happened, for fear of unexpected responses.

“Daddy!” Nathaniel squealed, as he saw my Dad turn the corner into his classroom.

“Nathaniel!” Dad knelt down, and Nathaniel ran into his warm fatherly arms.

“Let’s go home.”

As we left the classroom, and turned the corner to the stairwell, I asked Nathaniel if he knew what had happened.

“Well, we had a few classes, and then we watched movies all day. There was a lot of smoke outside. Was there a fire?”

“Nathaniel, the Twin Towers fell down.” Nathaniel stopped, suddenly petrified by my words.

“Wh-wh-what do you mean they fell down? Glynnis you’re a bad liar.” His eyes became glassy suddenly, and filled with tears.

“Dad, what happened? Is she lying?”

“No Nathaniel. I wish she was lying. But she isn’t.” Dad kept walking; each step he took became faster than the last.

“What do you mean they fell down?!”

“They fell down.”

“You mean, they fell over sideways? Did they squish our building?”

“I don’t know Nathaniel. I hope they didn’t squish our building.” I helplessly looked at Dad for help.

“We’re going to my house tonight. So far, that’s all I know.” His quick tone made me nervous. We walked out of the school gates, and up along the FDR Drive. We stopped at the Fast Ferry, almost boarding it to go to New Jersey. The boat was full and we turned around and walked west.

We walked for hours. We walked past pubs and bars stopping to look at the televisions, which played and replayed the horrors of what had happened that morning.

Whenever we walked under the shadow of a tall building, I would pick up my step, for fear that the building I was walking under would topple over any second. We stopped for the public bus after many hours of walking with heavy backpacks. The driver, the passengers all had the same expressions, the same expression everyone had that day: horror and shock. The bus ride was free, and the back doors were open for anyone to board. We stayed on that bus for about half an hour until we neared Columbus Circle, where we departed from the crowded, sweaty, smelly bus.

Grandma Ronnie’s house was, and currently is still on 68th and Broadway, which was walking distance from Columbus Circle. We threw open the door to Ronnie’s modern and very expensive apartment, running to the freezer for handfuls of ice cubes, before doing anything else. I threw an ice cube into my mouth, and sucked on it until it dissolved, which was in a matter of minutes.

I proceeded down her beautiful marble hallway to her bedroom, where she had five people lounging on her queen size bed. “Hi, Ronnie.” My voice was silenced by the earsplitting television.

“Glynnis!” She pushed herself off of her turquoise fleece blanket which she had been sitting on. She brought that fleece blanket everywhere. She hugged me tightly and planted a kiss on top of my head. “Are you alright? When did you get out of school? What did you hear? Do you want some water?” She asked a million questions, and introduced me to her friends. “Glynnis, this is Robert. You remember him, don’t you? He knew you when you were only a baby!”

“Yes, only a beybey,” Robert had a strong New York accent, and I barely recognized him. I didn’t know any of Ronnie’s friends, but somehow, they all knew me.

“Here Glynnis, wait here and watch some TV. and I’ll be back in a few minutes. What do you want to eat? We have ice cream! I know you just love ice cream!” I flashed my “million dollar smile” at her, and at once she ran off to the kitchen to get the food.

I leaned back against the wall of giant pillows, watching the news for what seemed forever. They had only one theme that day, and that was war. They would play the same clips over and over again, purposefully gluing the images of planes crashing into monumental structures, and people half way around the world celebrating immediately afterwards. It was as though they were pushing rewind, and then play hour after hour. That video will remain in my mind forever.

Silently, I sat in horror with my bowl of ice cream slowly melting in my palms. By the time the bowl of ice cream had turned to complete liquid, it was time to leave Ronnie’s house, and go to Dad’s house. I drank the bowl of ice cream, and ran over and hugged Ronnie for almost a whole five minutes. I threw my back pack over my shoulder and followed my Dad and Nathaniel out the door.

I didn’t remember Dad’s house looking the way it did when we got there. There were numerous changes: furniture had been rearranged and removed. In the front room, stacks of paper covered every square inch of space. In the back room, my room, the one I used to sleep in when I stayed over with Lucy and Emily (my aunts), and Michael and Larry (my uncles), nothing had been changed or moved. Nothing in that room had been touched in months, maybe years, and was now covered in dust.

I suddenly broke down. I suddenly understood. The dust, the towers falling, going to Dad’s house. I had told people at school that I would take pictures from my window and bring them in soon. I found out only when I lay down on the dust covered bed that I would never go back to my old apartment. I didn’t know what had happened to my mother, I didn’t know a lot. I wish I had known that I would never go back to my Battery Park City apartment ever again the morning of September 11.

The windowsill had cubby holes big enough for me to sit under. I curled up under the windowsill and fell asleep in the cubby hole, next to the burning radiator. This was going to be a long year.

—Glynnis Eldridge, New York, NY, age 13, 2003

Links to more stories of 9/11/2001

Add your story to this page!

Comment on this Story

Add a New Comment

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License