Sorboni Banerjee


Tommy Baxter


Theresa Edo


Erin Jang


Michelle Kearns


Madelyn Rosenberg Lazorchak


Jay Rubin


Sarah Williams

Introductory Essay


By Madelyn Rosenberg Lazorchak

In New York they heard crashes, booms, thuds, crunches, cracks and “Oh God, please, no.”

Eyes filled with smoke and ash and dust. Tears.

In Boston, eyes filled, too, but the things we saw, we saw through glass, the glass of a television screen, the glass of a computer.

Outside our Massachusetts apartments, fall leaves fell in colors burnt by the sun. And hope. That fell, too. But our building stood upright.

From my living room I heard this sound: the fast busy signal of a telephone that would not connect me to my brother or my friends who worked in lower Manhattan. All I knew was what I saw through the glass where images unfolded as if they were on the screen of a movie whose special effects I would normally criticize.

There would be more fire, wouldn’t there, if this were real life?”

“Could a building actually fall straight down like that?”

(Architectural experts on television assured me that yes, indeed, they could.)
I heard estimates of deaths and orders for body bags and finally, the gentle bleep of my e-mail as I began to receive notes from my brother and my friends: “OK for moment. More later.”

It would be hours before I heard their voices, hours before I heard my brother say there was a three-hour wait to give blood. Hours before Kerry, who had seen someone jump from the World Trade Center, would wonder whether the image would ever leave her brain again.

“It’s like the moon,” said Joe, my college roommate, who waded through ash and debris to get a few things from his Tribeca apartment. “It’s just like being on the moon.”

When I was a kid, I wanted to go to the moon. I had this dog-eared book about Matthew and Maria Looney, two young moondwellers who lived with their family in a small, cozy cave. They needed gravity shoes to walk. Sometimes, they would fly.

When I wanted to join them, I was about 8 or 9, the same age as the children I saw through the glass of the television screen — children with broad grins and shining faces who might enjoy Mathew Looney if anyone ever translated it into Arabic. Children who cheered outside coffee shops in Iraq and Egypt because Americans were suffering.

Their smiles chilled as much as the thought of those bodies under tons of rubble, bodies that were, at that moment, still faceless, nameless, and too plentiful to comprehend.

I hoped that the children were too young to think about those bodies, that they were like the Chinese girl in a friend’s pre-school class, who held up two fingers, then bent them and said in careful English: “There were two buildings. Now they are gone.” Tumbled, like blocks, without harming a single Fisher-Price person on the way down. I wanted to shake the Arabic children through the television glass, to grab their shoulders and say: “People are dead. Look. Do you understand what that is? Dead?”

But of course they do understand. Haven’t they seen death? Grown up with it? Been hurt by it more in their young lives than the children in untouchable America? Even so, did they have to feel hate?

I have seen hate before without television glass in the way. I have seen it here since the attacks, in the broken windows of a mosque or the glares hurled at an Indian friend, accused of being a terrorist because he will not shave his beard. The time I remember best, though, was in 1989. It my first year as a full-time reporter and I was covering a Klan march in Southwest Virginia. There, in a parking lot of hoods and sheets, I saw a little girl, also around 8.

She did not wear a hood. She wore pink: a cotton-candy pink shirt and faded blue jeans that seemed not-so-faded because she was standing in a sea of white. Her hair, long and brown like mine, had been plaited into careful braids, and she walked alongside her mother, who screamed as the group made its way through quiet Virginia streets: “Stand up for your white rights.”

I was afraid — not of the hoods, but of the girl who might someday wear one. She should be about 20 now and I wonder if she is going to college. If she has a job. If she hates. And the smiling boys behind the glass, I wonder about them, too. Will they grow up? Kill? Steer a plane full of people into a building full of people and die as the steel collapses like a tower of blocks?

I make up names for the television children: Ahmaad, Munzil, Duqaq. I make up a name for the little girl: Annabelle or maybe Karen.

The children killed in the attack have real names, like Christine Hanson, who was on a plane to Disney Land. To her I give a face, dimples and head full of curly red hair that will never sport Mickey Mouse ears.

The others start to have faces, too, the people buried in the rubble. Their relatives stand on street corners with signs, pictures mounted under desperate words: “World Trade Center. Missing.”

Until now, missing has always been for runaway tabby cats or brown dogs that answer to “Buster.” The television shows another picture of the rubble.




It has become too hard to watch and I turn away from the glass, but still I hear voices.

Joe is looking at a slow line of yellow taxis. “Someone told me they’re carrying bodies,” he says.

Laura claims the city is so quiet you can hear pigeons’ wings and other sounds that are normally drowned out by honking car horns.

And Joe says again: “It’s just like the moon.”

I’m not sure when I stopped wanting to go to the moon, when I decided I would prefer Disneyland or maybe the Galapagos Islands (because I liked saying the word Galapagos). I just know one day I must have looked at the moon and seen it the way I see the rubble now; one day I must have looked up and felt lonely, knowing the Looney family wasn’t really up there. Nothing was there, nothing but tattered flags, deep, dark craters, emptiness and dust.