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I grew up near New York City.
Ten years ago, my sixth grade class was supposed to go on a field trip to a beach.
The chaperones got out of the bus and saw smoke on the horizon, because it was a clear, blue day.
“Business as usual,” the superintendent said, when reached via telephone.
“It is not business as usual,” the chaperones, one of whom was my mother, replied. “We are getting back on the bus. We are going home.” On the bus, the teachers told us it was because the atmosphere would have been bad for asthmatic students. We found out, when we got back to school, what the real reason was. At the time, I wasn’t mad at them for lying. Years later, I was.
We were let out early. My mother walked my siblings and me home. She told us what happened. She told us that our father was driving home from Canada because all flights were cancelled indefinitely. She told us that his cousin would have been dead if he had not been late to work that day.
The next day, one of the boys in my class did not come in to school. He did not come back for a while, because his father was never coming back at all. The sounds his mother made when she got the call, we all later heard, were not human. But then, why would they be? What happened wasn’t human. Not at all.
I have not yet made sense of these past ten years. Nobody has, I don’t think. But maybe we will, someday.
But I know I will never make sense of that day.
People say that we must never forget.
I couldn’t if I tried.