(Image: Private Media/Gorkie)

The Twin Towers were my favourite buildings in New York. At 8am on September 11, 2001, I walked past them for the last time. I glanced up at their spires, silhouetted against a cloudless blue sky. I told my friend Janis that we would return later with our lunch from the nearby Amish market. We hurried on. An exam awaited us in a hotel ballroom a block away.

Barely an hour later we were told to stop writing, leave our belongings, and evacuate via the fire escape.

As we emerged into the street below, chaos enveloped us. Police and gridlock and cacophony and debris and shocking images saturated our senses. My first thought was that a bomb had exploded. Instinct told me to flee lest another detonate. I heard a cry that people were leaping from the burning skyscrapers. I knew that could not be unseen, so I didn't look.