Content warning: suicide
There is a big fire in the sky. A plane hit a building across the river and I am looking out at it through the window next to my school’s gym. I press my forehead against it. Black things fall out of the building.
I am five.
I don’t hear the fire alarm. Maybe it went off outside. Maybe that’s why firemen put out fires. They told me in school I should stop drop and roll if I was on fire. My gym teacher says a word my brother says when he loses Tetris. I say “Fuck” too. Hey Mr. Gym Teacher are we losing? The people down there on the street look confused. Maybe they want hugs. Hi there do you want hugs? If I hug you maybe the fire in the sky will go out.
I’ve never been on a plane that flied that bad. This building has a lot of black things in it. “Fuck.” I wonder if the building I’m in now has a lot of black things too and whether they would fall out if a plane hit. My classmate says that the black things look like people. I trust her because she is wearing glasses. How can you tell? Because there are those two people right there you see and they are holding hands falling together turning together in the sky.
I am scared of heights. I wonder if these falling things are scared too. Hey people are you scared? Hey do you think that they are falling together because they are in love? Hey people are you in love? I want to catch the falling things. I am good at catching things with my baseball glove. The falling things might be scared of heights too.
My friend’s mom is going to take us home. I don’t know how far we are from home because I don’t know how to tell how far you are from something. I take my Doritos out of my backpack and give some to my sister. Besides I don’t think that they make rulers that long. Like from my house to my school. Paper is just floating around. I wonder whether someone lost their paper. Dad would be mad if he lost his. Papers. Maybe we should give them back to whoever lost them.
I like Doritos.
Sometime after, I learned that the black things were people and that they jumped out of the buildings. Maybe they were afraid of the flames because maybe they were too hot. Fire does seem really hot and it probably hurts to be in fire. But I don’t want to jump out of a building because I’m scared of heights. Also what would happen if I hit the ground. I think about whether the jumpers had to cook dinner later that night for their families’ and who might cook dinner now that they weren’t around. I am scared about who might cook dinner for me if my parents weren’t around anymore either.
word by Jacob Goldberg
colour by Fiona Tang
From the author: “White sheets of paper have the unique quality of all opaque things: they disguise what is behind them. Only in tearing the paper do we meet this surprise. This notion of the unknown, coupled with the fierceness of the artist’s rendering of the tiger, largely contributed to the inspiration for the above story. September 11th, 2001 was just that: initially, an azure sky; then, one stained with smoke and black things.
It is shaking events like 9/11 that should exhort us to become more compassionate; to take refuge in exploring the deep, soulful questions that many find difficult to broach. In so doing, we can learn the enduring power of relationships and that fate might be tempered by unrelenting love. Even more vital would be our newfound cognizance of time, and the fact that we simply cannot know how long we have. To find solace in living with that uncertainty, but to have also developed an absolute commitment to living: that will be our catharsis.”