March 1, 2022 Pray For Ukraine
Grygoriy and Larysa held each other in the darkness. The sound of falling bombs kept them awake, terror held them by their souls. Grygoriy wasn’t sure how he could make it through the night if it wasn’t for Larysa.
They heard the news reports about the oncoming Russian invasion. They just couldn’t believe it would really happen.
Until the bombs began to fall.
“Why are they doing this Greg? What could they want, I’m so afraid.” Larysa pulled tighter into Grygoriy’s arms. Just then, another explosion rocked the night. They could feel the vibration shake the walls of their apartment.
Weren’t the Russians supposed to be negotiating peace?
Air raid sirens filled the night. The power had been knocked out in their home city of Kharkiv earlier that day, now the city was being destroyed.
“Rat a tat tat…” the sound of gunfire was getting closer.
“Greg, should we go? What if a bomb hits our building? What can we do? I’m so afraid, they sound like they are getting closer.” Larysa sobbed as her body began to shake.
“Larysa, I wish I knew what to do. If I was twenty years younger I would go join the soldiers fighting in the streets. But that day is gone… I think we need to stay here but maybe we can go into the basement and find shel…”
Greg’s next word was drowned out by the explosion that rocked their world. Glass and debris rained upon their shoulders and he could feel a sudden blast of cold air.
“Larysa? Are you ok?” Greg felt his wife of thirty years go limp in his arms. “Larysa? please answer me.” Greg couldn’t see but he felt a stream of moisture on the back of his wife’s head.
“Ohhh aahhh… Greg, what happened?” Larysa said as her body trembled in Greg’s arms.
“A bomb, I think… the building was struck by a bomb. Thank God you’re alive. But you’re bleeding my sonechko. We need to go to the hospital, it’s not safe here.”
“It’s so dark, we need to find… We need to pack up… uhm help me get to the dresser, I’ll get my bag and you need your pills,” Larysa spoke slowly, Greg could tell she was struggling.
He slid off the bed and pulled Larysa gently to her feet. His stomach felt like a bucket of sand was dumped inside and it was rolling unsteadily in the bottom. It felt so unreal, it was as if he was watching himself from his own shoulder.
He had to keep moving.
“We’ve got to go now Larysa, NOW!” Greg didn’t know why he just knew they had to get out of there that second.
Greg wrapped his arm around Larysa’s waist and guided her toward the door of their apartment. He could smell smoke when he opened the door. Greg silently cursed himself – he forgot to feel the door first, what if the hallway was on fire.
But it wasn’t.
They stepped out into the hallway, the emergency lights gave an ominous feeling.
“How could this be happening, Greg? It hurts…” Larysa’s voice was muffled by his shoulder. He pulled her to the side of the door and they leaned on the wall.
“Can you walk?: I don’t think I can carr…”
BOOM! In an instant, the door of their apartment blew into the hall. If they’d stayed any longer they would have been inside. And dead.
Greg shuddered at the thought and urged Larysa forward. They were on the third floor and had a long walk ahead of them. It only took a few minutes – yet felt like forever – they managed to descend the smoke filled stairway to the ground floor and stumble outside into the night. The air was cold and it hit them like a frozen wall as they left the building, they were still in their night clothes. They’d left everything behind including coats and shoes.
Greg turned around and looked at their building. A lump crawled up into his throat and threatened to drown his spirit.
“Oh, Greg, it’s gone… all of it, everything we had… gone.” Tears flowed down Larysa’s face.
“We still have our car Lars, and we still have each other. I love you.” Greg reached around Larysa and held her tight. “Good thing I parked outside to leave room for people in the parkade.”
The two refugees sat in their car and turned the interior lights on.
“Let’s have a look at your head,” Greg closely looked at the back of Larysa’s wound on the back of her head, “Whew, looks like we got away lucky. It’s just a bit of a scratch and doesn’t look too deep.”
“Where will we go?” Larysa wiped her eyes and started to practice the breathing exercises she learned so long ago.
“Our son is close to the border with Hungary. I think we should go there.” Greg pushed his foot into the clutch and through their car into gear. “But first the hospital.”
“Pray for Ukraine, Grygoriy I can not live under the Russians again… the Soviet was bad but Putin is much worse.,”
“Indeed, pray for our homeland.” Greg turned their car on the main road headed into a world they never expected.
This is a fictional story based on the events of the last week of February 2022.
Pray for Ukraine.