I thought I’d cry when the deafening blow rattled me out of sleep early in the morning. My friend yelled into the receiver, Russians shell Kyiv, and the president forgot his tie when announcing the shocking news on TV. Well, I didn’t.
I thought I’d cry when the gray-faced, scurrying crowd cleared the shop shelves in a sullen hush, and solemn cashiers wore smiles over panic. ATMs ran out of cash. Gas stations out of fuel. Children shrieked at the sounds of blasts, and the next-door house caught fire. Yet I couldn’t.
I thought I’d cry to see the lovely lanes that carried the memories of my cheerful childhood shape-shifted into phantasmagorias of trashed concrete and chipped glass, mixed with blood and despair. And the smell of burnt flesh and rust crept into the folds of my clothes like a parasite. But no. Not a single drop.
I spent three weeks in a paralyzing trance, wrapped in stinky blankets on the cold floor of a metro station, shivers rushing through my body in uncontrollable convulses. Once a wimp, now barely human, I froze, locked inside my head as the only safe place left, with my eyes wide open and burning dry. Nights were the hardest. Heavy darkness seized with scarce, ragged dreams blending edges of reality into solid walls of no return. Life before felt nonexistent. Life ahead seemed an illusion.
Then silence fell gingerly on my siren-strained ears. A hand stroked my shoulder. A voice said, They’re gone. Can you walk? I strode out into the dawn of the rising spring, tripping over cracked asphalt. A titmouse’s song, the cry of hope, pierced the street rustle. A gentle sunshine melted craters and holes and rendered trees with warm golden honey. So delicate and free, I couldn’t help scalding tears rolling down my cheeks.
I loved it! Thank you!
Thank you for this submitting this. You convey the experience with immediacy and poignancy.
Devastating. Such a fine rendition of terror, despair, the return of possible joy.
This visceral emotions evoked by this piece worked because of the imagery & sensory details. Well written!
You have made this so painfully credible.
Best friend’s wife/family are Ukrainian, most of their family is over there. Almost like they were so shocked there were no tears. Realism here is strong.