Iowa Writes

SEAN AMBROSIA
Excerpt from Hit


        Morning. As Parental Unit A is attempting to extricate me from my bedroom and force me out the door to the bus-stop, it gets a call from Parental Unit B, who's heard from co-workers that a jet airplane has collided with the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
        To this day, I can feel how blankly this news registered with me. Plane hit a building. This is so far out of a slow suburban kids' frame of reference that he doesn't have a reaction to it, unless its been fed to him by an adult. So it doesn't really faze me as I head out the door and make my way to school.
        All day news is trickling in; one of the 5th grade teachers, who wasn't related to the victims, had no family in New York, didn't know anybody in harms' way at all, was so overwhelmed that he had to leave the school in the middle of the morning. The rest of the teachers have a TV in their lounge, and our state appointed guardians are debating how they're going to break it to us. How do you make sure that a group of elementary school kids are sufficiently scared of Arabs, but not so scared that they wet themselves on school property? It's a daunting task.
        I actually don't remember who told us what was happening; I just know that we must have found out, because by the after-lunch recess I knew, everybody knew. But a more apathetic American you could not have found on that day. So what if two towers got hit? I had been to downtown Chicago, we've got lots of 'em. Hey, if New York needs to borrow some, I'm sure we could spare a couple while they rebuild. (Eight-year-old me was not very smart.)

        Morning. As Parental Unit A is attempting to extricate me from my bedroom and force me out the door to the bus-stop, it gets a call from Parental Unit B, who's heard from co-workers that a jet airplane has collided with the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
        To this day, I can feel how blankly this news registered with me. Plane hit a building. This is so far out of a slow suburban kids' frame of reference that he doesn't have a reaction to it, unless its been fed to him by an adult. So it doesn't really faze me as I head out the door and make my way to school.
        All day news is trickling in; one of the 5th grade teachers, who wasn't related to the victims, had no family in New York, didn't know anybody in harms' way at all, was so overwhelmed that he had to leave the school in the middle of the morning. The rest of the teachers have a TV in their lounge, and our state appointed guardians are debating how they're going to break it to us. How do you make sure that a group of elementary school kids are sufficiently scared of Arabs, but not so scared that they wet themselves on school property? It's a daunting task.
        I actually don't remember who told us what was happening; I just know that we must have found out, because by the after-lunch recess I knew, everybody knew. But a more apathetic American you could not have found on that day. So what if two towers got hit? I had been to downtown Chicago, we've got lots of 'em. Hey, if New York needs to borrow some, I'm sure we could spare a couple while they rebuild. (Eight-year-old me was not very smart.)
        After a recess period of wild rumors and kids who apparently are dumber than me bursting out into tears because I guess they hadn't reached that stage of child-hood development where they're able to realize that their mommies and daddies, and aunts and uncles, and just anyone in general not currently in their frame of vision haven't been killed by Al-Qaeda, we're all standing in front of the back doors of the school, in the "get your butt back to class line," waiting for the bell to signal that recess is kaput, and one of my smart-ass little friends, a die-hard Cubs fan comes up from behind me and, just to stick it to me says "The White Sox aren't playing tonight." And another kid behind him chimes in, "I bet they're all dead". And I realize that the kid is right (well except for the part about them all being dead, I may not have been a smart child, but I knew that not everybody in New York City had died).
        As I'm having this realization, a patriotic fervor builds in me, and I start thinking that we need to smoke out those evildoers responsible and bring them to justice.  And as my little eight-year-old mind tries to suss out what evil has been perpetrated against the American nation, I come to an epiphany of who the true enemy is- the real culprit whose responsibility is clear as day, and yet who nobody from the White House to the halls of Congress, to the deepest, darkest conspiratorial corners of the internet has ever brought to account. It's the fault of those stupid towers for falling over. If they hadn't-a fallen over, I'd be listening to the Sox game tonight.
        And I'd arrived at the obvious, yet brilliantly simple conclusion that 9-11 was the fault of buildings themselves that were toppled! But how can I as a small child in the heartland of this country protect the land I love from these steel framed evildoers?
        I start jumping up and down, while being very mindful to keep my place in the single-file line. Like all the most effective military maneuvers, it's a bit unorthodox, but its brilliance is in the execution. Picking up the pace of the jumps, I decide that I need to begin shouting. It's a classic counter-insurgency tactic that those terroristic buildings will never see coming. The tactical tantrum, the tac-trum.
        I shout "I hate the World Trade Center, I hate the World Trade Center, I hate hate hate the world Trade Center!"
        I muster up all of the rage that my little self is capable of, I can feel it building in my stomach, and I cap this tirade off by shrieking "F--- The World Trade Center". Only I don't say "F", I say the real thing. The word. The Anglo-Saxon homage to the physical act of intimacy which is verboten everywhere except for brothels, opium dens, and pee-wee Hockey matches.
        And I don't squeak it, I belt it. Into the cheap seats. As if I'm saying "take that World Trade Center, you think you can post-pone a White Sox, game? This is America, we don't cow to the terrorists."
        Of course I immediately realize what I've said and so I freeze in place, waiting for the boot to drop. I'm not very worldly at such a young age, but I'm aware enough of the structures around me that I'm bracing for the "Ambrosia! What in the world did you just say? March your ass down to the principal's office now and receive your state mandated verbal abuse!" But it never comes.
        Instead, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Hampton, comes up to me, crouches down to my level and asks me, "Honey, would you like to see Ms. Wilbur?"
        Ms. Wilbur was the school psychologist.
        And I just look at her and shake my head. And we just kind of stare at each other blankly, because she's wondering why an unbalanced kid is siding with the terrorists, and I'm wondering why I just got away with dropping an F-bomb.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


SEAN AMBROSIA

Sean Ambrosia is a Senior in the English Program at the University of Iowa.  Originally from La Grange, Illinois, he has been in the undergrad creative writing tract for the past two semesters, and has performed his work at several public events, including the undergrad showcase "Writers' Gone Public" and "The Lit Show," KRUI radio's booktalk program.

This page was first displayed
on December 09, 2014

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