A community project hosted at Northeastern University

The Mailbox

Date

Current Location

02117

Text

“Miss, do you remember seeing anyone suspicious? Anyone that looked out of place?”

We sat there in silence for the next minute. I thought about my day and the events that had occurred. As much as I thought, I couldn’t picture anyone out of place because I wasn’t looking for that.

I woke up early on Patriot’s Day to join friends and make signs for my sorority sister and two fraternity brothers who were running in the Boston Marathon. While arts and crafts are not my specialty, I wanted to support them because they had supported me my freshman year. We drew; we painted; we splatted glitter here and there. Once the signs had been made, we went to the Little Building Dining Hall for brunch. I ate a waffle, an omelet, a muffin, some pudding and, of course, the seasoned potatoes. While I felt stuffed to the brim, I was too excited about the marathon to care.

When everyone finished their meals, we prepared to depart. One sign in each hand, six of us weaved our way through the crowds to find an open spot right on the finish line. While we were lucky to get so close to the race, two strangers next to us were huddled over a mailbox and really getting on our nerves. “If only they would scoot over just a little, we could stand there and all fit
right along the fence. How rude to take up so much space on such a crowded day like this.” Our banter continued, but the girls never scooted over. They stayed huddled over that mailbox.

We arrived an hour early to soak up the fun environment of the Boston Marathon. I loved watching people as they ran by, cheering them on as they ran the last yards. I got goosebumps seeing the joy on the runner’s faces.
! A few minutes later, another sister joined us. She took a picture of the scene: the runners, the crowded sidewalks: the Boston Marathon.

BOOM

“What was that?”

The chatter around me quickly started.

“A gunshot?”

“No, way too loud, maybe a cannon for the race?”

But the Boston marathon had never used a cannon before. Shooting off a cannon at a random time during the marathon didn’t make sense. Then it hit us. It was an explosion.

As the smoke began to rise above the buildings we had another realization, it wasn’t just an explosion, it was a bomb. We were under attack.

“GET DOWN.”

I turn away from the explosion to get into tornado position because that’s the only thing I can think of to do. As I am getting on all fours, not even thirty seconds after the first explosion,

BOOM.

I am thrown on my back by the force. The smoke surrounds me and my first instinct is to stand up. I try to stand and feel pain in my right thigh. My shoe is missing, so I begin to look around to where it was blown. I see people hurting, bleeding, dying.

Next thing I know, someone pushes me back down. I land on shards of glass, but am not cut. I look down and see a charm I had just bought the day before with my best friends. It’s the celtic knot which means connection, community, and resilience. As I stare at this charm, I freeze. I don’t know how long I laid there or what was happening around me, I just stared at that charm and nothing else.

One of these best friends was with me that day. She sees my lying on the ground, not moving, and pulls me up and into the Starbucks behind us. Their workers were herding people into the store and down to the basement for safety,
not even thinking about their own. That’s my last memory until my best friend hugged me in that Starbucks’ basement.

I sent a group text to my family–my mother, father, brother and grandmother. It simply said, “I love you guys so much.”

Not knowing what was happening, my family instantly assumes I am about to commit suicide. My mother and brother bombard me with texts. “Are you okay?” and “Hannah, what’s going on?” quickly fill my inbox. I try and text as fast and quickly as I can to explain the situation, but my hands are shaking. People around me are bleeding, crying, some even screaming. I just wanted to let them know, I survived the first explosion, barely the second, and I didn’t know what was going to happen next.

The rest of my day is a blur. I don’t know how long I stayed in that basement. I remember sitting in a group with the two other sisters and crying because we didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where our other sisters were or if they even survived. I remember the workers of The Proper Slice leading us up their backstairs to escape onto Newbury Street. I remember calling my mom and asking her what to do. I remember crying and screaming at complete strangers, begging them not to head towards Boylston Street. I remember the pain in my leg, my ear, my head.

I don’t remember meeting up with the other three sisters. I don’t remember getting an EMT. I don’t remember walking to the river. I don’t remember crossing streets or going to the hospital. I blacked it out. I don’t want to remember.
! Waiting for our discharge papers, we are each taken, one by one, to be interviewed by the FBI, Homeland Security, Boston Police Chief, Boston Detective and the Emerson College Police. It was hard to tell the story over and over again. It was hard to be asked questions I couldn’t answer. I never thought I would experience a terrorist attack firsthand.

It is hard to see pictures of suspect number two and remember making comments like,“Oh wow, he’s cute.” It’s hard to see pictures of me and my sisters and see suspect number two in the background. It’s difficult to see interviews with those standing around us who were severely injured.

Remember those two girls leaning over the mailbox? One lost a leg, the other both legs. If it wasn’t for them, it would have been me. To think I was mad at them for leaning on the mailbox.

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