The door opened and warmth poured out. A tea service was waiting for our guests. Luda plopped herself down on one of the couches with an “ooff”
“See now sister isn’t this better than sitting downstairs?” Malika took her winter coat off before she sat down to tea and cakes.
The children sat on the floor with their tea and were quite happy to be in the warm room.
“There are some activities in the bedroom for you children. Puzzles, crayons and some crafts are in a big box.”
“Now we must have some serious conversation.” Valeria sat down as the children shut the door to the bedroom. “This is not a vacation stop. Many in Odessa are in harm’s way. You have been brought here for your son’s sake.”
My eyes looked intently on Valeria. Ah, I thought he was a target.
“You are staying in the The Passage Hotel. Many in this hotel are from a different time. We can only keep each of you safe if you have minimum contact with the outside world.”
“What does that mean?” Luda jumped in before Valeria could finish.
“You are safely sitting in the Passage Hotel of 1991. The Communist regime has fallen and we will rebuild now. Also, if you have questions please ask them quietly, the children are just in the next room and there are guests in the room next door.”
“We are in 1991?” Malika asked quietly.
I noticed Luda getting ready to make a tirade but her sister grasped both hands, looked her in the eye and said “Shhhh.”
“There are so many questions that can be asked.” I added.
“But let me answer simply. We are each here for a certain reason at a particular time. Our working together will make this time more bearable.” Valeria nodded to me.
“Does my son know?” Malika asked.
“Yes and No. He knows you are safe because there is someone watching you. He also knows… I have said enough…”My husband’s kind face and calm voice had the necessary effect.
“You are the welcome guests of the Passage hotel. You are welcome to come and go. You can even take the children out to the park during approved times. We do not want you talking to people unless we approve this. I’m sorry if this sounds strict but it is to keep people in 1991 from having suspicions. And for protection.”
“We have people who are being protected from every dictator and war since 1898. If a guest seems “old fashioned” it’s because they are. Let us introduce you before you enter into the life of another person. There are several we would love for you to meet. These are people who will never be safe in their world so this is their permanent home. We do not want the children to know. It would be a big mistake So please act normally but quietly.” Valeria was beginning .to look tired.
“We will be your friends from 2022.” I said confidently. “We are able to communicate with Dmitre and can bring news of what is happening.”
“Your friends will live in 1991 and also in 2022. Please be considerate of them.” Valeria got up to leave. “There will be some food delivered soon for your dinner. Each day you will have one meal you can eat down in the café. But I need to remind you, please eat silently, do not complain and do not talk to others. Your server will be one of us. Not everyone in the Passage knows about who you are. You must never pay. Your 2022 money will be of no use but it would make you a target. We do have enemies in 1991.”
“I think it would be a good idea to put all of our 2022 money in an envelope.” My husband reached into his wallet. Both of the women opened their purses. They gave me their wallets. “We also need your technology. It must be sent into the 21st century. “
“But how will we…?”
“There are no mobiles in Ukraine in 1991.” Valeria said with frustration.
I took the cell phones and 2 tablets and put them in my oversize purse.
“What about the children?” I asked.
“I will get their things.” Malika knocked on the door.
“Babushka needs your phone and your tablet.” The children made faces. “This will help keep your mama and papa safe.” They quickly rose to their satchels. I also need any money your papa gave you.
“Babushka.” Sasha got a grumpy look. “He said we could spend it the way we wished,”
“We will save this money for an emergency children. If there is very little food, we will each of us need to help.”
“Oh alright.” Dema gave his Babushka his wallet as did Sasha.
Valeria gave me some 1991 money and Luda as well.
“You must be the most careful.” She looked at both of us. “It would be very easy to use the wrong money.”
“We will find a way to keep it separated.” I looked at the money that looked the same as the money in my wallet.
“Tonight, you will stay in the next room. Tomorrow you will return to 2022. Every other day you will stay here. Unless it becomes unsafe for your there.”
“Then what will…”
“We will decide at that time. Remember the technology stays in hiding. If anyone asks about this family, tell them they were visitors who have moved on.”
“What about their car?”
“You had better move it to another place in town. In front of another hotel.”
Welcome to Penned in Moon Dust. This year for the A to Z challenge I chose to dust off an archived story i wrote while I was in Odessa Ukraine (2007) I’m actually glad I rewrote it to the current times. it represents what families are enduring and I hope the tenor of the story is “heartfelt.”
I appreciate your time if you are an A to Z blogger. This is an ongoing story and it is pulling from some events that have played out in Ukraine around the Southern Region of the Country. Odessa is a large city in the So. West, Mariople has been a beseiged city from very early days – she is also in the south on the coast of the Azov sea.
Links to the story in order: