Short Story: In a moment the world stood still


The day had begun like any other day in ‘The City that never sleeps’, the sunlight was streaming through the flower patterned curtains and I could hear the noise of the bustling traffic five stories below. I stretched and stifled a yawn and got out of bed. Walking to the window the cool morning breeze gently brushed across my face, certainly not the good dose of country air from what used to home, but it was something one gets used to … if you tried.
I got dressed and made breakfast. I made my way to the kitchen sink to wash up when I glimpsed something yellow from the cluster of magnets on the fridge door. After a closer look, I saw that it was a note from

mom saying that I’d have to drop Uncle Fred’s medication at his work place while I was shopping.

I was locking the door of our apartment, the rusty hinges playing their usual tune, when the loud hip-hop music from across the hall hit me, and do doubt the ruckus within could be heard through the paper-thin walls of the neighboring apartments, the Nell’s could never shut up, fighting or not. They were one of those families that didn’t have peaceful in their vocabulary and we have to put up with the result of that sad fact, as if the leaking sink from the room about ours wasn’t bad enough. I ran down the steps at full speed, reveling in the trill but as as soon as I stepped on the congested sidewalk I saw Mrs. Riggs, and I halted, walking those terrible poodles of hers whom I preferred to avoid, the nasty little half-naked creatures.

I was pocketing my change as I came out of the pharmacy when the World Trade Center came into view. It was here, the two huge twin towers, where my uncle worked as a security guard.
He was a strapping, good natured man who was once in the U.S Navy. I saw his battle scarred face smiling back at me as I walked to the entrance.

“Hey! What’s up soldier?’’ he said grinning.
“Nothing much. Life’s just as boring as yesterday. Here’s your stuff mom told me to give you,’’ I replied, breathless from the long walk.

He reached for the bag and was about to say something when a thunderous noise came from above. Without warning, an airplane was heading for the first tower. Then …


I screamed as adrenaline ripped through my veins. Within seconds, blocks of concrete were flying everywhere among terrified screams.

“Get out of here Jane. Now!”, steering me to safety he growled, “That’s an order!’’


The last thing I saw was my uncle running back to the source of chaos before dust got into my eyes. Then I heard another ear splitting explosion, the ground shook and I felt a sharp pain as my knees connected with cold hard pavement. I couldn’t see anything and didn’t

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

know where I was. Everything was black, my irritated eyes had refused to open, and I was coughing uncontrollably despite the searing pain in my chest. I heard voices, but they made no sense to me at all, no sense at all. What had happened? What happened to him? What on Earth just happened!

Suddenly, I felt hands around me, making me painfully aware of all the bruises I had. Moments later, my eyes opened to the horrible scene before me, one I know I’ll never come to forget. Where two magnificent towers once stood proudly, there was a wreck in flames. There were firemen all over the place, darting in and out of my vision of the grey-black smoke, bringing unconscious bodies from the rubble. Then fear claimed me and I froze, immobile as I lie in its iron grip. I didn’t care where I was, I thought desperately of Uncle Fred but nothing escaped my dry throat filled with dust.

After what had seemed like ages, a paramedic laid me down on a stretcher after I was swaddled in a warm, soft blanket.
“Unc…le…Fre…Fred,’’ I had managed to gasp. The noise from the sirens was deafening.
“He’s was rushed to the hospital,’’ came a familiar voice. It was my mother. She was pale as a ghost, so pale she’d put Edward Cullen to shame, and tears were streaming down her face.
“Is … he… is he… alright? Is he?’’ I pleaded as I attempted to get up as sensation began to return to my sore limbs. My back was so stiff, as if I’d slept through a hundred years without turning an inch on a stone soft bed.
“He lost one of his arms Jay, he got some people out though, but he’s lost a lot…a lot of…of blood. I don’t know if … he’ll …,’’ she sobbed, her trembling hands gently pressed me back onto the mobile deathbed on which so many had died. That was ‘ol Faithful’ Fred alright; he wouldn’t run away from anything and wouldn’t leave anyone behind, a SEAL to the bone.
“Don’t cry mom. We’re gonna be alright. Uncle Fred’s gonna…gonna be alright,’’ I tried to assure her, he has to be.

Amongst the screams, the sirens, the wailing and the song that always follows death, I heard snatches of conversations … two planes crashed into the towers, another one into the Pentagon and … the last one had nearly hit the White House.
All those innocent lives lost, I reflected on how lucky I was to be alive and with whatever consciousness I had remaining, I prayed for the ones beyond return and the ones yet to be found.

“Go to sleep, honey. Shhh. Close your eyes, everything’s going to be fine. Hush now”, mom crooned as she gathered as much of me she could. The last thing I saw was my mother’s wobbly smile. I let my exhaustion wash over me, leaving me feeling so hollow and oh so light, then slowly noise around me faded and then everything went black.


Just a side note: I never witnessed the event, nor have I actually lived in New York. I’d written this in my English class, and later for my English Language exams in 2011.

I’d originally posted this on -> The Dark Globe.



Filed under Writing

8 responses to “Short Story: In a moment the world stood still

  1. Pingback: In a moment the world stood still | Writing into the Night

  2. That was excellent. Had me totally riveted! You’ve got serious talent. Keep it up! And consider yourself followed. I think this blog is worth following.

  3. So beautiful and powerful!! 🙂 Great job Devina.

  4. spellbinding…just as if you’d witnessed the event firsthand…great job dean!!!

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