I open my eyes from what seems to be a bad dream. Something about me being in a tragic bombing in a big city, weird. I don't feel like myself, but I shake it off as being really tired. I slowly open my eyes to be blinded by the morning sun. I look down at my bed and then quickly take a second glance. My heart drops.
“Where am I?¨ I think to myself.
With a million thoughts running through my head, I start to panic. I jump out of what seems to be a king size bed with plain grey sheets and a spot that looked like someone was sleeping next to me the night before. Obviously not my bed, which is a twin and has bright pink sheets. I feel sick to my stomach and run to a bathroom that's connected to the room. I walk out of the bathroom and begin looking at pictures hanging on the wall of the bedroom. I see what looks like a married couple, probably early 30’s. There's a picture of the couple on the beach and then at a baseball game. Then I quickly look down and I see big feet. I look at my hand. It's huge! My heart's beating out of my chest. I’m the man in these pictures? I can’t be. I run to the bathroom and look into the mirror in shock. I have a shaved head and clean shaved face. I slowly go to touch my face while trying not to scream. All of a sudden I hear a phone back in the bedroom go off. Then it dings again and within 30 seconds the phone had received over 30 text messages. I walk back and pick up the phone, which I assume is the man's whose body I'm in. I scroll through all the messages on the lock screen of the iPhone. All of them are saying things like, “Are you ok?” “Jay, are you working the marathon today?” “Call me when you get a chance!”. Whats going on? The phone is non-stop getting calls. Something inside me tells me to answer it. I answer a call that has the name “Nicole” as the contact. “Hello?” I say kind of scared, but then I realize that everything was kind of coming to me as I started talking and flashbacks of this man and his wife fly into my head. It clicks in my head that Nicole is my wife and she’s a nurse. I see her in her scrubs, smiling and heading off to work. I see myself in a police uniform. I realize that we live right outside of Boston and we both seem to work in the city. I start to develop the same thoughts as this man, Jay. A Boston Police Officer, 32 years old, no kids, and married for a little over a year. As all of this rushes into my head, Nicole is frantically screaming and crying and can’t seem to get the words out.
“A bomb! A bomb went off!” she says as she's sniffling and crying.
“A bomb? Where?” I say trying to gather as much information I can from her.
“The finish line!” she says loudly. The Boston Marathon, it was today. I can picture myself working there last year with my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in my hand cheering on the runners while also protecting the crowd and keeping everything under control.
“I need to go there and help out!” I shout to my wife.
“No! Please don’t! I don’t want you to get hurt!” she says screaming. I feel something inside that begs me to put on my uniform and go to the finish line.
“I’ll be fine I promise!” I say.
“Be safe, Jay”, Nicole says to me.
“I will”. I rush to my closet and rummage through all of the clothes inside trying to find the police uniform. I see it freshly ironed and ready to go. I get dressed and ready and go into my cruiser that was parked outside our house. I turn the lights and sirens on and race to the marathon. I didn’t have to think of where I was going because Jay’s brain had morphed into mine and it felt like I drive there everyday.
I start to get into Boston. I see Fenway and the TD Garden and I see people crying and screaming while running to find loved ones. I park the car and run out. Without thinking I'm saying all types of number into the radio on my shoulder. “ 10-33, 10-32”, I say into the radio. I run to see a family of two young kids, one boy, one girl, and their mom and dad who looked really upset. The mother is crying. The kids are in a state of shock. I run through the smoke and dust to try and help them. “Hey guys are you hurt?” I say trying to stay calm.
“My son! My son!” the woman exclaims.
“Where’s your son, Miss? Was he running in the marathon?” I ask trying to calm her down. “My son! I can’t find him!” she says louder than the first time.
“Our son is missing, when the second bomb went off we lost him in all the dust and debris.” the man says, a lot calmer than his wife.
“Ok, I’m going to call more officers and inform them that you’re missing your son and they’re gonna find him, okay? How old is your son? Do you remember what color shirt he was wearing today?” I ask hoping that they’ll give me information to find their son as fast as possible.
“He’s 8 years old and he was wearing a red t-shirt!” the mom says loudly into my face.
“Ok people are already searching, just stay calm.” I say.
I’m starting to cough because of how bad the dust and debris is. I see an officer running towards me. “Jay! Jay!”, he says from a distance. I can picture him in my head as my best friend, Mark. I see us laughing and having fun together while working. “Mark!” I yell out.
“I didn’t think you were working today!” he says.
“I heard what happened and I know I needed to come help.” I say.
“You’re insane, man! This is the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me! I saw the first bomb go off!” he says.
“That’s crazy, are you hurt?” I say worried.
“No I’m fine! I’m invincible!” he says in a joking way.
“You’re crazy, by the way have you seen a little kid, like 8 years old?” I ask still thinking about the poor family.
“No, sorry. There are thousands of people running around and trying to find their kids.” he says.
“Well I have to go save a little kid.” I say to Mark.
“Stay safe out there Jay”, Mark says to me.
“You too buddy”, I say and start running to find any little kid I can. As I’m running I’m stepping on screws and nails and all types of metal pieces. I don’t even acknowledge the fact that another bomb could go off any second because I need to keep this city safe. After so many hours of searching, I can’t find anything. Boylston Street is cleared out a lot, but no sign of the kid. I really hope they found him somewhere in all the mayhem.
I see Ed Davis, the Boston Police Commissioner who I’m also very close to.
“Jay I knew you'd come in today and save this city!” he says while walking over to me.
“Of course! I was worried about you, Ed!” I say knowing that Ed was a huge part of the marathon every year and would definitely be at the finish line.
“I’m good, really shaken up though. Long day to say the least”, he says.
“Did you find out who did this ?” I ask.
“I’ve been working with the FBI all day and we have two suspects, white and black hat. Two college aged kids, we saw them on the surveillance cameras”, he says.
“Ah I hope the find him”, I say worried that they could be anywhere right now. “Hey did you happen to hear about a young boy who was lost during the second bombing?” I ask Ed hoping for an answer. He all of a sudden looks at me with a rush of sadness in his eyes.
“Did you know him, Jay?” he asks a lot more serious compared to the rest of our conversation.
“ No, I just met the family and wanted to make sure they found their son”, I say as my heart sinks down knowing what he’s about to say to me.
“He passed away, Jay. Officers found him a short while after the second bomb”, he says extremely upset. I feel like I’m going to cry, but I hold it in.
“What? That can’t be true!” I say in disbelief. “ Yeah Jay, his name’s Martin and he had a brother and sister who were injured in the second bombing”, he says. I can’t believe that they lost their son like that. I stand there and can’t get any words out.
“I have to go, Jay, but I’ll talk to you later”, Ed says as he walks off talking to the bomb squad.
I stand in the middle of the street where I see the yellow and blue finish line peeking out of all the dust and I see the barricades knocked over and crushed and broken. And then I see written on the ground in spray paint, “Boston Strong” and I know that this city is better than what happened today and we’ll make it through this tragic event.