I come out of the northern line and walk out of the station. It’s a normal afternoon and I’m meeting a friend after work. As I make my way down the street and towards the bridge, I hear what sounds like a thud. Then I hear screaming, and then three shots. It’s happening on the other side of the bridge, but I feel terror inside me. I half run, half walk, to the accommodation building opposite the bridge.
I don’t know how long it takes to get there, time isn’t working properly in my head. I feel sick, and people are filming on their smartphones in confusion. A blonde woman stands staring at me as I lean against the wall, wondering if I’m going to vomit. “It’s okay.” She says, feebly. “Don’t worry, you’re okay.”
I’m fine. I was never at risk at all. I was on the other side of the river to where the innocent people were murdered. However, I was scared, frightened, in shock. I want to scream, burst into tears, hit something. Yet I can’t, so I sit down inside the reception and regain my composure. Outside, the sickening sound of ambulances and police cars builds up. Feeling rather morbid I watch, not knowing what else to do.
It will take several hours for me to calm down. Everyone is in shock.
This is incredibly unlikely, I say to myself, repeatedly. This doesn’t happen regularly at all. London isn’t a war zone. You are fine. My friends are also behaving weirdly in their shock. They go from silent horror, to attempts at humour, to almost excitement. It’s funny how the brain copes with fear. My friend’s mothers, and mine, are checking in on us, erratically. Some want us to come back from university early. London’s not safe. London’s not safe. Hours after the attack, the tension is palpable.
Let’s be honest: we are scared. People being murdered in cold blood is scary. Especially when it happens so close to home. Terrorists know that. That’s why they do it.
Don’t let them win. It’s horrifying, it’s horrific, it’s evil, but don’t be frightened. Go out tomorrow and walk the streets, attend that party and go and watch that film. Show them that we don’t give in to fear; that London is stronger than giving into threats and terror. We don’t need to resort to violence and hatred to get through the day. We will not make a terror attack worth it.
Anthropologist, Liberally Jewish, Cat enthusiast, Nuance extremist.