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September 11th journal
Report from the Shadows

A New Yorker’s account of what he and his six-year-old son saw in lower Manhattan on September 11th.

By Jacques Menasche


Excerpt: It happened quickly. Later, time would bend and twist like the wreckage itself, seconds becoming minutes, minutes seconds, and hours swept and snapped into different time signatures like modern jazz. But in the beginning it was fast. A glimpse. A speeding black projectile, maybe two, shooting from left to right into the side of 1 World Trade Center. An instant later a crescendoing, enraged roar. An orange plume bursting from the face of the tower like a carnation blossom, growing slowly into fullness, then passing out of the world like an expired breath.
   Emanuel and I were six blocks north, at the corner of Harrison and Greenwich. We were there because we were late for school. We are always late for school. On the way Emanuel insists on playing “mind games”—inventing more of the Pokémon creatures that have been battling in his brain all summer. Greenwich Street is our Rubicon; when we gain the street, we see the school and the game stops. Hand in hand we wait for a break in the south-moving traffic to cross to the entrance. Yesterday Emanuel climbed onto a disused loading dock that ringed the building on the corner, his head rising nearly to my shoulder. That’s when we heard the thunder of the oncoming plane and looked up.
   When I next looked down at Emanuel, he was smiling nervously: His cartoon fantasies had suddenly come true. Only when the bloom had depleted itself, when the gaping wound in the tower had begun to belch ugly black smoke, when it was certain that this was no ultra-expensive film shoot, did what had happened become clear. “They blew it up!” someone from the faceless crowd shouted. . . .


About the writer: Jacques Menasche is a New York–based writer for Contact Press Images, a photo agency. He recently traveled to Afghanistan on assignment for Contact.


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