Contemporary Drama Sad

This story contains sensitive content

 Sensitive Theme: War on Ukraine

After clearing the remnants of the war out of the way, I sat the basket of seeds down and began to dig the hard earth, turning over the sod as needed. Normally, I’d have done this before winter, but the invasion put an extended pause in everyone’s plans. Plans of growing, plans of harvesting, plans of living, all halted for an un-seeable future.

I lowered myself down slowly, until my knees were on the makeshift padding of a dirty and torn bath towel. There was still no electricity in most of the towns, so things needed to be washed by hand. I wouldn’t waste energy in washing everything at once, only if and when I needed it; there was too much else to do. Food and clean water were essential; everything else would have its turn.

I began to loosen the soil with the largest fork I found amidst the rubble in the kitchen. There was a unique satisfaction with creating something right now, when trying to pick up where we left off before so much death and destruction. This was a creation of life. A green life, but life nonetheless. A life that would give life. Our country needed life after what transpired. I needed life. I needed life while I waited for them to come home. They would come home, I knew they would. I wasn’t sure if he would, but I knew they would. They were safe because I sent them away.

He and I stayed. We couldn’t keep them here with us, but he and I would stay and fight for our home. Their home. Only, he left me while I was gone at the station. I don’t know how or why. I don’t know if he thought he was keeping me safe or if someone came and took him. Did he want to go? Was it our people who came for him, to convince him to fight with them? Or was it the others? Did they come and take him? Did they take him alive or dead? Would I ever know? There was nothing for me to do but stay and wait. Wait for him to come back. Wait for it all to be over.

I reached for the wooden handled rake and stood, hearing the crunch of dried earth and pebbles beneath my boots. I worked the rake, removing the stones, weed debris, sticks and more, welcoming the cleaned area with what I could muster of a smile. My mama would say to use a line as a guide when you’re sowing your vegetable seeds. Keep things neat around your feet. My children’s feet working twice as hard to keep up with mine, came to mind as we ran towards the train station. The cacophony of cries and screams from my people still haunt me, whether asleep or awake.

I kissed Lina’s little red nose as her eyes darted left to right, scanning the pushing and shoving people on the platform.

“You hold your brothers hand and don’t let go. Rose will be waiting for you at your last stop.”

Silent tears streamed down my face, the moisture clearing a path through the dirt and sweat on my cheeks. I pulled Kristoff in closer. I pulled the zipper on his jacket up to the tippy top and then pulled his hat down.

“You must protect her. You must. Keep your head down and stay out of the way. Don’t talk to anyone. Do you understand?”

My poor Kristoff. My baby boy. He must have been in shock. He said nothing but made no move to let go of Lina’s hand.

“Do you understand?” I asked again louder, shaking him a little.

He nodded.

I pushed through the crowd with every bit of strength I had. Food had already been rationed for weeks, my stamina was not at a normal level.

“Please,” I forced out through dry, cracked lips. “Please take them.”

The yelling seemed to be getting louder. The patrons couldn’t hear me. I had to yell louder, but could I? I didn’t have a choice.

“Please!” I croaked out while hot, new tears spilled over. How I wished my own tears could’ve quenched my thirst. With the help of stocky man, a stranger by face, but a brother by heritage, we hoisted the children into the car. Kristoff first, then Lina. Her brother grabbing her small hand with one of his and using his other to grab hold of the railing and steady himself. He would protect her. He had to. There was no other way.

The sound of metal on metal brought me back. The rake had dug up a toy car. Slivers of muted yellow and blue showed through where clumps of hard dirt and clay chipped, and fell away. The colors of my flag. The flag of my country. I slid the car into the pocket of my apron and pulled the ends of the scarf under my chin a little tighter. The morning sun was not yet warm, leaving the air around me biting. I had to get this done now. The sooner the better. I could have my own food soon and not take what I didn’t need in the lines. I could help others get more. We had to help each other through this. We would.

I laid the rake down quietly and began to press the small seeds of vegetables into the ground, pressing a few seeds together to maximize the chances of germination. I pulled the car back out from my pocket and buried it with my seeds. Patting the toy under the earth with each hand. Then pushing down so hard my muscles ached. They would never stop us from being a part of this land. Never.

“Never,” I whispered aloud, to no one.

With no running water, I resorted to our rain barrel behind the coop. I placed some water into a small serving bowl and walked it back and forth to sprinkle the water, the best I could. This would work. It had to work. We made it through and we must start over. Like we’ve done so many times before. I inhaled the chilly outside air, my home’s air, and exhaled my sorrow. Yes, we would prevail, again.

April 01, 2022 18:25

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Unknown User
08:10 Apr 07, 2022

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Irene Ivy
12:40 Apr 07, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words! My great, great grandmother was from Ukraine and I hoped to honor her and my ancestors! Thank you again for taking the time to read my story!


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