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That Day

The ride usually took about an hour, depending on the weather, time of day or which end of the shift you were on. Like most work commutes, there were times that the car seemed to know the way since the driver was lost in thought or in the fog of sleep deprivation.

That day was different. As the time to leave drew close, there was an uncertainty about the ability to reach the destination.

That day was different. By the time the car left the driveway, the world was several hours into a new reality. Although the first part of the trip was similar with the usual assortment of vehicles passing along, the overall atmosphere was one of ominous dread. The car’s radio played a mix of reflective and commemorative themes and interspersed with a constant update of news reports.

To the driver, at that moment, the reports that kept flashing through his thoughts were, “All bridges, tunnels and highways into New York City are closed.” The next part of the commute was to cross one of those bridges, a major crossing, which was part of the interstate system that would bring him where he needed to go.

That day was different. Although he had driven this route hundreds of times, in all types of weather, on this blue-sky day, he wasn’t sure that this would hold true. As a major thoroughfare connecting major business hubs, it was a link used by thousands of trucks, buses, and cars daily. If, according to the reports, every access point was closed, then there was a strong possibility that all the roads leading to it would be a logjam of idle vehicles.

Having been raised and worked in the area for many years, the driver was familiar with the streets that would bypass the traffic jam and, hopefully, bring him close to the entrance ramp. But getting to and getting on were two different things.

As the creeping highway traffic made its’ way to other unwanted exits and destinations, he made his way through the side streets to the closed ramp. Navigating as close as possible, only a grass divider, patrol car and police officer blocked the way. Explaining the situation and showing his identification, the officer moved the cruiser and waved him through.

That day was different. His was the only vehicle, in either direction, on the bridge. The feeling was surreal. Slowing down as it crested the structure the driver glanced, out of habit, toward the Manhattan skyline. How many times in the recent past, had the towers loomed on the far horizon? Replaced that day by plumes of smoke.

The world…and life itself had changed.

That day was different.

Terry Bellew

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