Every day that the men went out, we were concerned. Often Olga’s husband the pastor would go. He would distribute the food that filled the back of the van.
“More room for people escaping,” Vlad said as they loaded the van.
The men filled the van going out and Vlad would leave several of them behind each trip to help protect the locals.
“All men in the East fighting. The women are left with children and old women.” Olga’s husband Andre told us.
We stayed too busy to worry about the group of people taking food and medical supplies. We had more than 100 refugees each night.
“People in many countries send money and we can buy what food is in warehouses.” Olga smiled as she stirred another pot of cabbage soup.
“I heard that places like travel sites, churches, community groups are all gathering funds.” I said to my husband who ran all the errands and did the heavy lifting.
“Yes, Dmitre told me that Ukraine is hanging by a thread.” My husband’s shoulders slumped.
“What is the world waiting for?” I said in frustration.
“Some countries think Ukraine should just cave in and cease to be Ukraine.” His eyes narrowed.
We both knew there would be many women and children for sale and most men dead if that happened.
I wanted to scream at the injustice…
“I need to go back to 1991.” I said quietly.
“I’m out of medical supplies. The Portal must know we need to get back.”
“We could use other supplies as well.” My husband wasn’t specific but I was thinking grenades. “Let’s wait for Vlad…”
Vlad agreed with us. “Portal knows you. Go.”
We tried to clean up as best we could and also wore Ukrainian clothing. I had a scarf on my head, an old grey skirt and old shoes. My husband had a worker’s uniform on.
When we went into the Passage, we noticed people sleeping on the floor, mothers holding their tired children and very few men. No one so much as turned their head when we walked in. We just looked like another tired couple.
I wanted to go to our room, but the risk was too great. We went to our clock on the third floor and went back down the stairs to the second floor at exactly 3 pm. The carpet was dirty and the design was almost covered in debris, but it was still visible.
“Let’s hope this works.” My husband held my hand with expectation.
I held my breath. Then I said just above a whisper, “We really need to enter.”
For a second, I thought I heard Valeria’s voice say “locked” but I couldn’t be sure.
As we left the Passage, the one thing I noticed was the guy who watched us and the surroundings like a hawk wasn’t there.
“I’m worried.” I said to my husband whose face registered the same emotion.
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.