8:46 AM, 9/11/2001

By: Vasundhara Singh
Picture credits: Shutterstock, edited by author

A hundred days in, she counts in her whispers. The rubber wheels of a second-hand bicycle frictionless on the tarmac surface profess a humdrum not unusual to her senses. Today’s route to work involves the habitual conundrum of voices and figures, a football lashes out while a dog casually relieves itself. At half-past seven she crosses the skyscrapers on Fifth Avenue and a few minutes later, a quick breakfast of a roadside doughnut. The leaves murmur as the sun looks on and her grip on the handlebars tighten when she makes a turn, customary of its rider’s tact approach.
The checklist rummaging in her thoughts reminds her of the impending tasks and the most vital one being, calling her mother during the lunch break. The tick of her watch nudges her to pedal faster and without digression passes the Rockefeller Park, a view reminiscent of her own soil. The uncanny nature of the trees transcends memory and divulges the pain of separateness. A helmet obediently worn on her father’s advice bobs every so often in a rhythm that has accompanied her from the uneven tracks of her town to the city’s furnished roads.
A swift press of the brake lever ends the calculated route that has been mastered and yet achieved mostly by nauseating fear. With a pliant awareness, she parks her two-wheeler companion and enters the mammoth artifice of her workspace.
As she waits tables on the top floor of the North tower, a plane crashes into it and within seconds, devours all life inside it. A life, like any other ingurgitated by the swirl of smoke as the carcass of a second-hand bicycle stands abandoned in the midst of rubble, the seat still warm.

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