Updated: Sep 11
** Eric Fischl’s sculpture, “The Tumbling Woman,” had a huge impact on the world following 9/11 when millions of people lost their lives in New York City. Although this sculpture had a negative impact on the world, I believe that this art piece tells a story of that tragic day. Through a class assignment, I gave “The Tumbling Woman” an identity and story that can shed light on the people behind the names from September 2001. **
“Mommy, are you taking me to school in the morning, or is Daddy?” Little Isabelle asked her mom as she listened to her favorite bedtime story, her parents’ memories from when they fell in love. Isabelle always asked to hear these and her mom, Loraine Reynolds, never failed to share her favorite love story. Isabelle especially requests this bedtime story in September because her parents got married on September 2, 1994, and she loves to celebrate them all month long.
“What do you say about Mom taking you to school tomorrow since she is meeting Jules a couple of hours before they have lunch, pumpkin?” Her dad, Nicholas Reynolds, proposes to his daughter. She is only five years old but wise beyond her years of making decisions that little kids make. He sees her thinking as she continues to listen to her mom talk.
Isabelle abruptly answers with, “I want Mommy to take me so that we can sing along to the radio all the way to school.” She looks up at her mom and smiles as her mom leads down and kisses her on the cheek.
“It’s settled then; I will drive you to school in the morning. Let’s all get some sleep then. Right, honey?” She gives her husband of 7 years a knowing look. Loraine and Nicholas have been together so long; he knows her looks like their his own. He falls more in love with his wife every day. Although they are now 28, he feels like he is still looking at the 18-year-old girl he asked to be his girlfriend all those years ago.
“Yes, dear, time for bed.” They tuck Isabelle in, head to the door, turn the lights out, and they are off to bed.
Before getting into bed beside her already snoring husband, who she rolls her eyes at because of how fast he falls asleep every single night, she picks up her planner. Loraine turns to September’s note section and looks at September 11’s plans: Meet Jules Jennings for lunch, arrive early at seating area near the Windows on the World on the 106th floor of the North Tower in the World Trade Center at 8:30 a.m.
The next day, Loraine kisses her husband goodbye and takes her daughter’s hand as they head out. Isabelle is in a good mood already singing something as her mom buckles her in the backseat. They start their 15-minute drive to Greenwich Village Elementary School. Loraine turns the radio up as 1980’s tunes fill the car, and she hears her little girl’s high-pitched voice from the backseat as she drives down the road while humming along to the song.
Loraine pulls her black Nissan up to the Elementary’s front doors, puts the car in park, and proceeds to let her daughter out of the car. Unbuckling a smiling and dreamy-eyed, Isabelle, Loraine helps her out of the car, gives her a quick hug and kiss on the cheek before sending her off. “See you after school, Mommy! I love you!”
“See you at 3, baby girl. I love you, too! She says as she gets back into her car. Looking in the rearview mirror as she drives away, she smiles at Isabelle’s figure skipping into school for another fun day in Kindergarten.
Another 12 minutes pass and Loraine shifts the car into park outside of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. She checks her lipstick in the rearview mirror, unbuckles her seatbelt, grabs her purse from the passenger’s seat and gets out of her car. Loraine starts through the North Towers’ doors and immediately spots Jules standing by the elevators. She called Jules’ name, and she turned to face Loraine, who continued to close the gap of floor between them. “Hey, Jules, it’s way too early!” Loraine gives her a soft smile as they wait for the elevator.
“Hey, Loraine, I know. But I wanted to actually spend time with you instead of a quick lunch. I know we aren’t morning gals, but I am glad we are doing this!” She smiles back while they cram onto an elevator and push the 106th floor. Loraine and Jules reach their floor at 8:30, step out of the elevator while a few people spill out behind them, workers getting ready for the workday. They proceed to stand by the large windows that overlook Manhattan, both musing at how beautiful the city looks this early in the morning. Streets and sidewalks below crammed with people going everywhere around the block on this lovely Tuesday. The next 15 or so minutes pass by quickly, and Loraine glances at her watch, 8:46 a.m., as she catches shrieks of panic coming from somewhere on the floor. She looks back up and over at Jules; her face is stricken with fear. Without saying a word, they both get up and start looking around. Walking over to the windows and the once beautiful morning is filled with thick clouds of smoke.
“We have to get out of here!” Loraine says to Jules in a panicky voice. Jules only manages a nod in reply, they turn and follow a crowd of people to the nearest stairwell. Panic swelling in her chest, Loraine grabs Jules hands as they try to make their way down the stairs, but it is no use. The stairwell is too crammed with people. Fear continues to rise inside of Loraine as she tries to think of what to do. Wishing she could hear Nicholas’ and Isabelle’s voices again, but she left her cell phone at home by mistake, and that sends her into a sobbing fit.
In a fight to take some action over what is happening, she turns to Jules and mouths; I’m going back to the window, we have to get out of this building. It is the only way! A still stricken with fear Jules follows her best friend back to the 106th-floor windows that overlook Manhattan. They take one last look at each other and mouth; I love you. Loraine lets Jules’ hand go as she moves in front of one window while Jules moves to the next one. Without another glance, both jump out the window of the North Tower as it crumbles.
Loraine Reynolds was a graduate of New York University Gallatin School of Individual Study where she completed her degree in Creative and Dramatic Writing. A few days before her death, she had decided to finish a book of poetry that she would dedicate to her husband and daughter. She would never get the chance to fulfill her dreams of being a writer of both poetry and fiction.
Isabelle Reynolds-Adams, now 28, closes the book and looks down at her daughter, Julia, “That’s the story of your grandmother. By writing this book, I followed her dream of becoming a writer. I hope you’ll cherish her memory just like I do.”
“I will Mommy. You are so brave for writing this. I love you,” 8-year-old, Julia muses about her mother.
Isabelle continues on about her late mother with tear-filled eyes, “But, baby girl, there is a sculpture that, I believe, although others didn’t, honors grandma’s life and her bravery.”
“Yes, baby girl. The sculpture is of a woman and mirrors the events of that tragic day – how people jumped out of the windows.”
“Yes. She jumped from the building. You know what?”
“I think she wouldn’t be negative about the sculpture like other people.
“But, why? It was of her and others?” Julia questions while giving her mother a confused look.
“Grandma loved all kinds of art. She would have mixed emotions, at least that’s what your grandpa would say. He would tell me how she loved art, but how she was very private about her art creations.”
“Like you are sometimes, Mommy. That’s why I ask you over and over to read me your stories. You tell the best ones.”
“I get it from her, baby girl. I found her journals after her passing and I felt like she was with me.” Isabelle wipes a tear.
“I love you, Mommy,” Julia hugs Isabelle, looks up towards the sky, “I love you, Grandma.”