(Text and photos by Joel Pena)
Boston is a beautiful, well-kept city. As a new college student I have enjoyed the amount of events that are held in public spaces. Going on long walks helps me meet new people and stretch my legs, and the day of the Boston Marathon was no different. I wanted to witness one of the most attended runs in the country where athletes and their families from all over the world gather to cheer and show their strength.
When the first bomb was detonated I was a block away from the finish line. The deep boom instantly paused the streets, packed with confused tourists and locals alike. It was only a few moments later, while I stood at the street corner overlooking the end of the race across from the iconic public library, that the second bomb was detonated and the entire area became a frenzy.
A deep grey smoke rushed over the side of the street and a uproar of terrified screams began. Of course, everyone’s first instinct was to run the opposite direction. Hundreds of disturbed faces sprinted past me as I remained stuck. What happened in Boston was so eerily out of context and ruthless I could not have predicted that I would react with complete stillness. Taking a couple steps back into the side of a building, I made a quick phone call and headed into the crowd. The siren of every cop and ambulance summoned in the area rang as I watched four separate people emerge from the scene in wheelchairs with blood-soaked legs. I did not think to document any of the commotion until I saw a man and a woman meet eyes, sprint towards each other and embrace.
The rest of my experience was a cold blur.
Joel Pena, a former SAY Sí student, is a film major at Emerson College.