There is a line in John M. Ford’s 110 Stories that mentions the detail that most haunts me from that day they attacked my home town:
The air’s deciduous of letterhead.
The second plane had not even hit yet, and the fire had not yet spread to the south side of the north tower by the time I took my first picture that morning, but the identical sheets of paper had already started raining down. They appeared as tiny specks on the prints of these photos, like grainy imperfections. On screen, you don’t even see them.
The leaves of paper that filled the Manhattan canyons had a horrifing humanising effect: they were an undeniable reminder that there were offices — people — inside the anonymous metallic colossus that was now rapidly being consumed by fire.
I still wonder what made me keep taking pictures as I hurried south on Greenwich Street and across the Battery.
By the time I walked passed the towers’ shadows again — as far east as I could, on Water Street — the paper was coming down hard. It rained down on the fleeing throng while the air above filled with smoke.