It was early September, yet the summer warmth lingered with tenacity. Labor Day over, kids in school, and Halloween advertising was underway. The activity stimulated my dreams, one in particular.
Grocery shopping done, I was home for lunch.
I remembered my good friend Erin who’d moved into a spacious new office and asked me to come by on my next trip to town.
“Erin. It’s me, Jean.”
“Hey, girlfriend, good to hear from you.”
“Remember you asked me to visit next time I was in town? How about tomorrow? Dan leaves at seven-fifteen every morning with the girls for school on his way to work. So I thought I might come by to visit shortly after eight. Then I’ll shop, and we’ll meet up again for lunch.”
“That sounds like a plan. You got my work address and info?”
“The receptionist will call me when you get here.”
“Great. See you early tomorrow.”
I hung up the phone and smiled. I’d enjoy visiting with Erin again, catching up, and early holiday shopping at stores I normally wouldn’t visit. I liked to get up early these past few weeks. If I slept later, I’d often have that terrible dream and wake up perspiring and heart-pumping. I’d awaken just before something ghastly happened, but not sure what. Wake at six and get going was the best medicine.
Damn, if I didn’t have that dream again. I woke with a start and saw the time was only 5:45 am. I woke Dan and told him about my scary dream again. I told him now nervous and scared it made and how real-seeming it was.
“You musta been a naughty girl in the past, and it’s coming back to haunt you.” He laughed and gave me a light fist tap on my shoulder like he jokes with the guys.”
“I’ll be extra good today to make up for it.” I straightened my back.
“And how about later tonight. . .extra good?” He chuckled.
“You get the kids off to bed early, Mr. Sparky, and we’ll see.”
We all had breakfast, and I left behind them, heading into town. I knew it’d be slow going at rush hour, but I didn’t have far to drive from our apartment overlooking the river.
I swear, cabbies are the rudest and most reckless drivers in the nation. When they pull out in front of you, and you have to slam on the brakes, they have the nerve to shake their fist with their middle finger out.
I pulled into Erin’s building garage, and though crowded, I quickly found a parking place.
Leaving the elevator on her floor, I looked at my watch—only a quarter after eight. I made good time.
The receptionist desk across from the elevator was most impressive. She looked like a model, and the v-neck blouse displayed her attributes. A man hired her, I said to myself.
“Oh, hi. I’m Jean Parks, here to see Erin Johnson.”
“Certainly,” she chirped, smiling to display her perfect teeth.
Erin appeared and greeted me with a hug, took my hand, and led me through a door in the impressive facade.
Once inside, it was expansive and noisy, and completely open so I could see the opposite wall. It was filled with cubes, computers, and workers selling insurance. The majority wore headsets and were talking.
At that moment, a great chill ran from my head to my toes—almost a tingling. It grew immediately into terror. Something a person might feel standing on railroad tracks and a monstrous diesel engine bearing down upon them and knowing you don’t have time to get out of the way.
The next thought that popped into my mind was that…that…this was it. This was the same scene as in my dream. I was surrounded by glass windows when something terrible happened. I couldn’t escape.
Then I finally knew that last part of the dream—no escape, and everyone would die.
I must have squeezed Erin’s hand hard.
“Ow,” she said. “You’re hurting me.”
We both turned to each other. Fear drained the blood from my head.
“Your shaking, and your face is white, Jean. What’s wrong? Are you ill?”
“I’m about to be. I’ve got to get out of here…and you’ve got to come with me.”
“Sit down. I’ll call 911 and the building medic. They can help.”
“No.” I grabbed both her hands with mine. “If you’ve ever trusted me in your whole life, believe me now when I tell you we’ve got to leave. Something terrible is going to happen.”
I was near screaming, and she glanced around to see coworkers staring at us. I was sure the other workers wouldn't believe me about this urgent sense of danger.
“Now,” I said and started pulling her with me. I knew she didn’t understand, but thank the Lord she came with me. We hurried to the express elevator, then street level, and I was pulling her toward the outside.
“Don’t you have a car?” she asked.
“No time. Believe me; we gotta run—get away this minute.”
Holding her hand, we made excellent progress, even in the high heels we both were wearing. I’d rather have carried our shoes in our hands but doubted I could convince Erin of it.
Many blocks away, I finally slowed down to a hurried walk.
“Jean, I hope you’ll explain all this to me. I only came to keep you from having a heart attack or stroke.”
I guess all the exertion relaxed some of the fear that had a grip on me. My watch displayed 8:45. We were both heaving and getting our breath when a monstrous explosion occurred. Looking in the direction of the sound, we could only see the sky light up with an orange fireball behind the small building in front of us.
Erin grabbed my arm with both of her hands and gripped tightly.
“Oh my God,” she said. “That’s where my office is in the Twin Towers. Something terrible has happened.”
I knew from my dream she was right.