9:30 (ish)— This was written somewhere under the East River, on the 4 train. I hope someone reads this someday (preferably while I’m still alive). About a minute after pulling out of Bowling Green station at full speed, I felt a bump. Hearing a “pfizz,” the train came to a halt. Had we hit something? Had someone pulled the emergency cord? I realized that we were underwater. I’m not normally a claustrophobic type, but I suddenly felt very nervous, and we were under a few hundred (thousand?) feet of water.
Then, the car started to fill with smoke.
It was the most frightening thing I’d ever experienced. The man next to me pulled out a gas mask and winked at me. I had the terrifying feeling that every time I’d made fun of terrorism being overblown was going to come back and haunt me. “It’s OK,” he said. “I work in construction.”
I found this not particularly likely or reassuring.
The smoke got thicker, and people started to panic, slightly. The “ping ping” of the subway’s PA system went off but wasn’t followed by a voice. The smoke got thicker. Nervous laugher turned to muffled groans. Several people, me included, dropped to the floor and covered our faces with cloth. Somewhere this came back to me from elementary school. (Stop drop and roll, right?)
I starting to think through the past day. It had been my first day in Manhattan in many weeks with neither a surgical boot or cane. Had I told anyone I loved them? Did anyone even know where I was, or when I should be home? (The latter was a no; I couldn’t recall the former.)