Oh, it was a beautiful sunny September day, September 11th to be exact in the year 2001, and after my morning cup of coffee I settled down at the computer for a long day’s work on my latest book. Around 8:55 I heard my husband call out for me to come to the living room where he was watching CNN. Pandemonium! The tv was out of its mind, smoke was billowing out of the two world trade center towers and people were jumping off the ledges of all the high floors. Like the rest of the country and the rest of the world who were watching, I could not believe my eyes. The clouds of smoke were thick and wafting up to the heavens and falling below down to the bottom of the two panoramic buildings. The tv cameras panned to the ground and we witnessed hundreds of people running helter-skelter trying to escape the gaseous, blinding masses of cloud-like smoke surrounding them.
When I finally came back to my senses, I realized that my good friend Elyn worked in the first World Trade Tower, on the 105th floor. How many times she had begged me to come and have lunch with her at the magnificent tower restaurant and for some reason I never did. Call it premonition, whatever, I never wanted to go to those monolithic structures. Of course, I never went to the top floor of the Empire State building either, or climbed up to the tippy top of the Statue of Liberty….I love to view heights…in the movies.
But, at that moment my concern was for Elyn, and of course her safety. Or at least to know what was happening. I called her home, no answer. Now it was about 9:30 and calls were coming in from all over, but nothing from Elyn or her husband Art. Elyn did not drive and she and Art lived in New Jersey, about a ten minute drive from the PATH train that would take her to the ferry boat landing across from the World Trade Center.
Then the phone rang…and it was Art…”she’s okay” he screamed into the phone, “she’s alive, she missed the train”. Well, that more or less satisfied me, but still curious, I kept asking questions. His response was that he had a lot of calls to make and would call me later. And he did, about 3o’clock and told me this amazing story.
The night before after eating dinner at a local restaurant, Art said he got a real bad stomach-ache with the attendant problems that we all know so well. Suffice to say the “burps” were not the worst of it. In the morning he pulled himself together and reluctantly went out to the car to drive an ever impatiently waiting Elyn to the train. Oops. Back into the house he ran with a slight but hasty apology and did not return to the car for about fifteen minutes.
“She was screaming”, he told me and said she’d not only missed her train, but the ferry as well.
God was on her side that morning.
They raced to the PATH train, got the next one and she waved a hearty, smiling goodbye.
It was not goodbye for Elyn, at least not that day. The ferry was waiting and she went aboard. The first building had not yet been struck. But, then it happened and in an instant …mayhem all around…and on the ferry as well as it raced to the dock. In seconds people were streaming down the street towards the ferry and trying on get on as it docked. The ferry captain did not permit this and left the dock.
Elyn gazed in amazement as the second building was hit. She was safe. And so my story is almost at its end.
That night I asked Elyn where she would have been when the first building was hit and she told me “On the elevator around the 85th floor, with a cup of coffee in my hand”.