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I found myself thinking how futile life was. I had spent my adulthood planning for my future. I had money in the bank, a career, a wife. But I had denied myself certain luxuries so that I could have a financially secure future. Now, after watching that man die, I suddenly saw the futility of all that planning. I should have lived more. What was the point?

 

There were four to five of us standing at the window. I started to walk away, but then I turned back and saw more people falling. This time there was a man and a woman. The woman wore a beige mid-length dress that fluttered in the wind. She was not calm. All her movements screamed of a panic that was beyond panic. For one brief awful moment, our eyes met. I felt some small part of what she was feeling, and I couldn't bear it. I got away from the window. I wouldn't go back. But she comes back to me from time to time. She is the one who invades my nightmares.

 

At that time, I figured out that the fire must be extremely hot, and these people had known they were going to die. The thought of a death on impact was better than being incinerated. I thought some of them knew they were jumping out windows. Others may not have known. There was a lot of smoke. Some may have thought they were going through a door, not a window. But some probably knew and made the choice.

 

A colleague came running to tell us a plane had hit WTC I. I asked him how he knew. He said he saw it on television. I asked him where the television was. He said it was in his office. So I ran down to his office, but a different story was up on the visual screen of his computer. I decided not to wait for the story to come back on. I wanted to leave the building.

 

I went to my desk, trying to figure out if there was anything I should bring with me. I grabbed my set of personalized pens and added it to the stuff already in my briefcase. I had quit smoking months ago, but nevertheless, there was a pack of cigarettes in my briefcase. It was still semi-wrapped in cellophane and I had had it for maybe ten months. It was the last pack I had purchased when I quit smoking and I had only smoked one cigarette from it -- my last -- nearly a year ago.

 

I put my cell phone in my left back pocket and headed towards the elevator.

 

The PA system was asking people in my building to go back to work. I still headed for the elevators. By this time, the fire alarms were going off. When I got to the elevator, it was already deactivated. I decided to go back to my desk and call Catherine's secretary. I knew I had those numbers on the mainframe. I was getting nervous.

 

I placed my briefcase on the desktop behind my chair. I sat down and called Catherine's work number. At the same time I was looking for her coworkers' phone numbers. I was hoping to not have to call her boss. Watching that first man jump and hit the ground had really affected me. I wanted to hug my wife and then go home.

 

I knew that the phone numbers for a couple of Catherine's colleagues were right in front of me, but I couldn't see them. I had to listen to Catherine's very long voicemail greeting before I could leave a message. Finally I heard the beep. I started to leave a message and as I did so, the building jolted. The force of it tossed me around my cubicle. I remember thinking, *Finish the message or Catherine will worry.* I finished it as quickly as I could. Later that day, I would learn what I said. I said: *Catherine, this is Chaaa-arrr-rll-lie. I want to come see you. I want to hold you. And then I want to go home.* But at that moment in time, I didn't know what I was saying. I was trying to process what was happening around me. Once again I heard a *whoosh* surging through the ventilation ducts. This one was much, much more pronounced than the first one. It also sounded like large pieces of furniture were being moved across the floor above me.

The building lurched to one side. I thought it wasn't going to stop going in the direction it was going. Then the building started wobbling. This I knew was bad. The thought that I was about to die ran through my head. I was going to die. The building was going to fall over. I was convinced WTC I had fallen into WTC II, my building. I was going to die with no one around me. No one was going to witness my death. It all seemed so meaningless. During all this, I was still on the phone. Throughout the entire message I was leaving for Catherine, the building was moving. It was like my desk was on a platform of Jell-O. Not good when you are 68 floors up.