The Bradford pears in bloom on Cambridge Street shed perfect white petals that flit down to the sidewalk and across the hoods of Humvees and police cruisers. In two weeks, the trees will rot and smell like yeast, but not yet. The bars, the convenience stores, the diner, and the cobbler’s closet-sized shop, are all shut up and dark. The streets usually echo with the sound of shuddering trucks delivering milk and crates of eggs or kegs of beer to the restaurants; on the sidewalks, there is typically laughter and shrieks, clacking heels and thwapping sneakers and the radio wafting out of the sushi place, or barking dogs and drunken arguments and the murmurs of the old men in high-waisted pants and nice shoes who watch everyone and comment to one another in Portuguese from the concrete ledge outside their apartment complex. But now, the streets are empty.
In one apartment, Mommy and Daddy say it’s like a springtime snow day, and we’ll all be okay, but we have to stay inside. Jenny is not allowed to watch the TV. Mommy and Daddy take turns watching it.
One block away, a woman is trying to write a research paper on Victorian literature at her desk in her underwear while the radio drones on, giving a brief history of Chechnya. She stops to answer text messages, emails, and phone calls asking if she is okay. “Fine. Just bored.”
On the floor above her, the newlyweds drink beer on their couch and watch TV news until they can’t listen to constant updates about what possibly might but isn’t actually happening, about what a resilient city Boston is, about acts of valor and people scattering and then running back toward the finish line, about the raid of an apartment on Norfolk Street. If they leaned out their window, they would see the same cruisers and Humvees. But they don’t look out the window.