The Friend …
Scene from Ukraine, after a sudden bomb attack (Daily Mail 5/3/22 – article written by Marc Nicol)
Bewildered, she stood in the road.
Around her the city burned, the land shook, the dust choked life itself. The air amplified chaos, shattered eardrums and reverberated fear. Where to go?
She turned this way and that. East held a roadblock, guarded by frightening silhouettes. North showed her dark clouds spurting flames. South offered a route to nothing; she could make out a grey blur of a huge, rolling monster, reminding her of a scary story her big brother had read to her the other day. Today had laid waste her world. In a heartbeat, Mama had disappeared, fallen out of her picture, forever unreachable no matter how loudly she cried out to her. So had Papa and Brother.
Peering to the West, she sensed rather than saw a figure emerge at a slow pace from the dust. Fearful of more horror, she ran to hide behind some old rusty barrels on the verge. From there she saw a clear outline of a man like her father. Hope made her gasp, then Grief struck another dagger in her torn heart – it was not him.
The figure stopped. She felt his soft, compassionate voice,
“I won’t hurt you, I will try to help. When you are brave enough to trust me, walk over to me; we’ll find a safer place to sit and talk.”
They sat facing West in an old concrete bus shelter, protected from blowing dust, away from crippled buildings.
“My name is Petro. We have all seen nightmares, have suffered deeply, suddenly, without just cause at the hands of evil. I need to do something about this. Will you help me, ……. – what should I call you?”
Her voice, a blurred shadow of yesterday, forced out “B’dana”. Only six, yet her face and mind had been wiped of innocence, just one day’s events heaped upon her shoulders, reflected in her eyes, a childhood stolen never to be returned.
“I need an army of braves. You are one, standing alone, already working out what to do, a survivor. I would like you by my side as we go to find others who will join us. What do you say?”
Petro smiled at the child, already understanding her circumstance. His heart wouldn’t leave her to fend for herself, knowing that she would not last even a day longer without help.
She looked up with eyes that dared not hope but which pleaded for company.
“I’ll try to help you if I can come with you. I have nowhere to go, Mama and Papa are ….. I know they can’t help me any more.” No tears, just despair searching the ground at her feet.
Progress is Made
Over the next two days, the two unlikely companions found kind shelter and some offerings of shared food. Their ranks grew, one by two by three; young men wanting to defend what they’d toiled for, older ones angry enough to take up arms again, die rather than suffer humiliation, avenging loved ones prematurely, barbarically wrenched from them. Women and children came too, needing the protection in numbers, some also prepared to fight.
B’dana made young friends who travelled with their mothers. She recovered some trust, eager to talk with those of like age, able to at least attempt some play, forget for a few seconds the incomprehensible devastation she and the others had seen.
Petro collected the beginnings of a solid company, ready to fight, arming themselves as best they could. He knew how to inspire, encourage bravery, give hope to those who could not allow invasion of their homes, their lives, their values. He was respected, loved even, and created strength from his purpose and their loyalty.
When their numbers were enough to make a difference, a clandestine meeting was arranged. In a deserted barn, Petro stood on a hay bale, fixed his eyes on those eagerly awaiting his words, ready to follow him into hell itself.
Ready to Go!
“We can help make a difference, my friends! I am proud of our civil army, I am proud to have you beside me. Our anger and our just cause are our strengths! Rise with me to bring back justice and freedom!”
One of the more outspoken of the company replied,
“You are our leader. We should call you President.” The crowd endorsed this, cheering as loud as they dared.
B’dana, though frightened of what might happen, realised she had protection, shelter and many whom she could trust. Never far from Pedro’s side, she whispered to him,
“I prayed for help and you came. Thank you for being my friend.”
Together the young and the wise would rebuild and reconcile. They would learn, move forward, pull some sense out of the ashes and create a solid foundation for peace based on reason, compassion and love. B’dana and Petro would remain friends for years and serve their country well.
‘The Friend’ is a work of fiction, written as a tribute to the brave people of the Ukraine, their plucky, sturdy, personable President and their efforts against a cruel attack. I hope you gleaned something personal from it.
For more works by this author see Ann Carr on The Creative Exiles.
You can also read more works by Ann Carr on Hubpages.
- On the Edge: ‘Ukraine’: Poem, Meaning and the Fight - January 19, 2023
- Snowing up a Scene:Form, Impact and Wonder - January 18, 2023
- The Wind out of Your Sails - January 5, 2023