Duane D Brodnick
People have been telling me I had a guardian angel watching over me on September 11th. I worked in the building over Century 21. I’m usually at work between 730 & 8AM. I’d step out of 5 World Trade, cross Church Street to a deli for breakfast and be upstairs by 8AM. But that morning I slept until 7AM.
I live in Jersey City and board the train at Grove Street. I was walking to the station when the first plane hit and didn’t realize it. After I boarded the train, it haven’t left the station before there was an announcement about no service to WTC. I stepped off the train and there was a woman on the platoform saying she saw a plane hit one of the Twins (as I like to call them.) I asked how big a plane and she said she didn’t know. I leave the station and cross Christopher Columbus Blvd and stand watching ugly, black smoke billow from the tower.
I called a co-worker at my job and told him what I was looking at. He had to return to the lobby of the building because of all the screaming going on outside. As we’re talking the second plane hits (and I didn’t know that was happening) and I lose contact him with.
I hurry back home and turn on the television and watch in disbelief as the Twins burn and then they rebroadcast the image of the second plane hitting. I then stepped into the kitchen and watch the Twins burn. I alternate between watching the news and running across the hall to my neighbor, who’s freaking out because he knew someone who works either in the building or in the area.
Then the impossible happens. What was first thought to be a third explosion was actually the second Twin collapsing. I run to my kitchen window and all I see is one Twin standing and smoke and dust where the other Twin should be. I go back to watching television and what felt like hours, and then the second Twin collapses. By the time I got to the kitchen window, she’s gone. All I see is an ugly cloud of grey smoke.
I’ve lived in Jersey City for 14 years and always had a view of the Twins. In 1993 when they were attacked the first time, I saw two black silhouettes in the night sky. I stood watching as the lights slowly began coming back on. And I thought, they’re back. On sunny or cloudy mornings, I’d look at them. During foggy, cloudy and clear nights I’d see two towering shining jewels with lit windows in every geometrical design imaginable. Waking in the middle of the night for a glass of water, I’d glance out and look at the Twins. Now I look out the windows and see - nothing. A void. An emptiness. A hole in my soul.
No longer will I be able to walk friends down to Exchange Place and take their picture against the New York skyline. No longer, while talking to people in chat rooms, will I be able to say, “I can see the Twins from my kitchen window.”
I’m not ready to walk down to Exchange Place and look over. I’m not ready to go down to Lower Manhattan and see “The Pile” close up. When will I be ready? Maybe before my job reopens. Maybe not. All I do know, it’ll be day by day.
Duane D Brodnick
Jersey City, New Jersey