It was days but it felt like weeks before we saw Vlad and his boys. They all were wearing the ugly tshirts that we had bought at the beginning of our journey before we even knew about a portal.
“We are getting in…” Vlad whispered to my husband. “two or three men only. But we are getting food in and children and babushkas out.”
I put a chair behind Vlad and he immediately slumped into it. I gave him some borscht and brown bread. I had gotten pretty good at making this Ukrainian staple.
I went around to all the men giving them their food and pointing to where they could clean up and rest after dinner. None of the guys complained though there was grime and blood and bruises all over their bodies.
“Vlad what happened…” My husband rushed into the church frantic.
Vlad held up the hand that was holding the bread. “Let me explain.”
In between bites, Vlad told us of the last group he had gotten out of Mariople.
“These soldiers are heartless. We loaded up many people into small car. They each needed help to walk with canes or even wheelchair. They needed to get out of Mariople. Wheelchair and canes thrown in trunk and clothes and pillows to the roof of the car. How anyone could breathe I don’t know.”
“The car is covered in bullet holes, Vlad.”
“Getting to that.” He chewed. “They started shooting at all the cars getting out. Car in front and me pushed the petal down quick. Glass sprayed everywhere from the shattered windows, tires blown and pillow stuffing flew all around. Not one of us got one tiny scratch. The cars behind us was much worse. “
“What do we do with the car now?”
“Of course we fix it…” Vlad smiled that Ukrainian confidence that I had grown to love about the man who I figured was nigh on 100 – give or take.
I looked in my medical bag and pulled out scissors and a roll of duct tape.
My husband chuckled “You know that book titled 1001 uses for duct tape? I think we can make filling bullet holes and repairing car windows 1002 and 1003.”
Though we were all getting weary from no nights of sleep, bombs falling, and air raid sirens blaring, we were still able to smile at the little miracles in a war zone…
Thank you to the A to Z community and each blogger that joins in April.
This on-going story for A to Z challenge 2022 was originally written in 2007 in Odessa, Ukraine. I’ve tweeked it to arrive in 2022 but the elements of a multiaccess portal and a war (the original story had multiple wars) are original. The Passage that is central to this story is a real hotel built in 1880s. She’s seen alot of history stomp through her doors and I could feel the past while I lived there. I hope you see the tenacity of the Ukrainian people through this attempt to honor their bravery. The story about the shot up car and the people is one of many stories we got from friends helping people escape Mariople.