The cool articulate female voice reverberated around the broad international terminal of Logan International Airport, as Molly Gablehauser tore off the packet of Mars bar and handed it over to her daughter, Betty. Her ponytail was swinging sideways like a pendulum while she was jumping up and down excitedly.
“When are we going to see Dad?” she asked her mother, her face beaming with hope and elation.
“After we reach Los Angeles and he joins us there,” Molly replied with a smile, caressing her daughter’s cheeks. She has grown up so much, Molly thought to herself. To her, she was still like the baby in the cot, who let out a cry every time she woke up from sleep to find herself without her mother.
The blonde stewardess ushered them towards thee check-up zone, telling them they would leave in fifteen minutes. Molly phoned her husband, let him know that they will be with him really soon, and joined the queue.
* * * * *
Frank Gablehauser hung up the phone as his lips slowly curved to form a smile. Two years. It had been two years since he last saw his daughter and wife, and soon they would be together again. For a moment he forgot how tired he was from last night’s overwork.
The austere office room was redolent with the smell of rose-flavored air-freshener. Frank grabbed the knob of the drawer of his table and pulled, but to no avail. Nothing daunted, he pulled again and found the object he was looking for, a photograph of him with his daughter and wife, occupying the whole of the drawer. He picked it up, went over to the sofa and stared at it unblinkingly. He marveled at his life, how lucky he was, and how the next days of his life would be nothing but happiness.
The last night’s fatigue resurfaced, as he heard a musical tone somewhere far, a somnolent cadence which suffused with the comfort of the sofa and lulled him to sleep, all snug and warm…
* * * * *
The masked man wielding Ballester-Molina pistol yelled once again, ordering everyone to maintain pin drop silence. Beside Molly, Betty was trembling uncontrollably, tears trickling down her cheeks. Molly hugged her, refusing to let go, determined to protect her from whatever danger that comes before them.
Another masked figure joined them. He cleared his throat, and gabbled some things in an Arabic accent about Jihad and sacrifice, before saying something that momentarily made Molly frozen in the spot. Their plane would be used to attack the Twin Towers. By attack, he meant literally crash into the World Trade Centre.
Molly could feel her heart palpitating and her forehead perspiring. She did not know how to respond. She pretended as if she did not hear it. This is all a joke, she muttered to herself. This can’t be happening; we are in the twenty-first century.
Then suddenly, with a jolt, she remembered that Frank shifted to a job in the World Trade Centre…
* * * * *
Frank stood up from the sofa and looked out of the aluminum glass. He heard a distant purring sound somewhere. The road adjacent to this building was abuzz with cars honking and buses trundling by. People of all ages walked along the pavements briskly. Time is of the essence in New York city- you cannot afford to lose a single minute.
Frank noticed that the purring noise was amplifying. He strained his years and located the source, and looked straight ahead. A plane was travelling his way. The pilot must be travelling in a low altitude, he thought.
But Frank noticed something very odd. The plane was now very close to the tower, and yet it showed no sign of moving up.
He understood what was happening. A crippling sensation made him unable to move. His eyes widened with terror. His hands trembled with fear. His mind raced to show him a slideshow of all the sweet memories, all his dreams, now nothing but a part of the life he would be living behind.
The plane was now inches away, as Frank closed his eyes to picture his wife and daughter, wishing to bid them farewell, wishing that the hopes would not plummet down just like that.
An ear-splitting crash and then silence…
(A fictional story based on the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre)