When She Closes Her Eyes

Krysta Voskowsky

Krysta Voskowsky

I wish I had debris in my hair. I wish I had a smudge of smoke beneath my nostrils and cuts on my face, glass embedded in the skin on my forehead. I wish I’d been there to bump into my ex-boyfriend as he stood watching at the finish line, even if he was standing there with his new girlfriend. I wish I’d been there, looking up at the clear sky, the back of my head on the pavement, hands pressing torn t-shirts to my severed arteries. Or lying face up on a gurney as the hospital went code-red, the staff hurrying to lock the exits and ordering emergency vials of painkillers.

I wish the building across the street from my office in the seaport district had trembled on its supports, skirts of dust curling outward as it gave way. I wish there were nails buried in the flesh of my legs. Better yet, maybe if I’d left my legs downtown while the remainder of me was loaded into an ambulance, maybe then she would have called.

None of this happened, so she never did.

A woman in my office put her head on the shoulder of a man in the design department as CNN played the same video over and over. She watched until her hands were shaking. She kept glancing out the window to the left of the lunchroom television, like she was wondering where the next bomb would go off. But really, that’s what I was wondering as I watched her. She didn’t tell anyone she was leaving until she was already on the train, headed to find her two small children.

She would tell me later that she’d lived in New York City in 2001 when the World Trade Center went down. For months after the attack, she would go to the same bars she’d always frequented for drinks after work and innocently ask something like, “Where’s Alex? I haven’t seen him around lately.” And everyone would go quiet. I imagine the bartender polishing a glass with a dry rag, head bent, praying into the pint.

But today was not 9/11. This was Marathon Monday. I would’ve been right there if I’d had the day off, if the company I intern for in Boston wasn’t based in New York, if Patriot’s Day had mattered to our publicists.

Still, Mom did not call.

I suppose when she closes her eyes, my mother sees explosions all the time. Or maybe, to her, I’ve already died.

The morning before the bombings I woke up crying at 4:00am, my tank top soaked with sweat and sticking to my chest. I’d dreamt of two kidnappers.

They stole a little girl; she was no more than four or five years old, blonde, wearing a pink ski jacket. Two men cased the house and broke in through the front door while the wealthy owners were away on vacation. They snatched the child’s babysitter too, a brunette no older than fifteen. The criminals tied and gagged the girls, then shoved them into the house where no one would come looking. The kidnappers ransacked the place, spreading feces and scrawling spray paint on the walls, upturning cans of wet garbage, smashing glass. They then took turns raping the teenager while the little girl watched, tied to a metal radiator. And when the teen was finally used-up, one man grabbed the young girl by her bound wrists and dragged her up the stairs, thunk thunk thunk to the second floor.

A glowing fully-decorated Christmas tree stood undisturbed in one of the guest bedrooms upstairs. The man rounded the corner and tucked his victim beneath it like a gift. As she lay there looking up into the pine branches, quiet tears dripping into her ears, the man opened her jacket and used a sharp knife to gut her like a fish, slicing her from bellybutton to larynx.

My dream-self watched from the corner, a formless being without a voice. I was there too when the police finally arrived. I followed them as they burst into the home, searching. They didn’t notice me standing there until we were just a few feet from the child. I silently pointed to the doorway of the Christmas room, afraid to lead the way. The police moved to her quickly. One officer knelt beside the girl’s body, tucked his gun back into its holster, and spoke into his shoulder radio requesting backup. Then the little girl opened her eyes wide and coughed a spatter of blood, gasping. The flesh of her torso was flipped open like a book.

Later that day, when the news cameras panned over the Boylston sidewalk smeared with blood, I couldn’t help but think I should’ve warned someone.


Krysta Voskowsky is a nonfiction writer currently earning her MFA at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She received her BS in Professional Writing from Champlain College, where she worked as a staff writer for the Champlain Current, interned at Eating Well magazine, and had her poetry and essays featured in several publications. Krysta is also a vocalist, foodie, blogger, photographer, and tattooed world traveler. She is currently interning for Da Capo Press (Perseus Books Group) in publicity, a Recipe Hunter and writer for NoshOn.It (daily email newsletter for the adventurous home cook), and working to finish her first memoir.


  1. A heartbreaking account,so well written it brings us close to you.

    Try to think of all the calls that were made by all of those who were thinking of you.

  2. Krysta;
    This is a poignant, strong piece deserving of literary attention. You’ve handled it in an interesting way with a few twists and turns to make it unique. I’m so proud of you!