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Bloody foam

The bloody foam was dripping on the smooth concrete of the car wash. As if there was a slaughter. Bandages, wrappers of emergency bandages, gloves, bulletproof vest torn to shreds. All that, totally soaked with blood. The smell of iron and raw flesh. Like at the market.

“Stop, stop, three hundred [military codename for “injured” — Ed.], three hundred!” a driver of a tattered bus, that had popped from the corner, ran in front of my car.

“Where am I to drive? How many?” I jumped from the footrest and ran towards him.

“In my car! I took everyone out,” the bus door had opened, and the first combatant staggered out of it.

“Let’s move them into my car. Are there any badly injured?”

“Everyone. Everyone is badly injured.”

The foam was clinging to the bars of a spillway with red bubbles. A gurney with an orange stretcher near the fence contrasted with a Nissan Passat nearby. Its owner was carefully applying straps of foam on the roof of his car, trying not to bedraggle his expensive shoes.

“Are you o…”

“I’m alive. Driving. Can’t speak,” I said quickly to the screen of my phone, not listening to the end of the phrase.

“Call me, when you can,” a dull but full of anxiety voice wheezed via speakerphone.

Blood has soaked everything in the car. My sleeping bag and pillow, the cardboard box with soap and other stuff, and my backpack. Bloody prints and streams on the doors. Blood mixed with sand and hardened into a brown mush on the handles, sealing the locks.

“B*tch, get out of the way!” I pressed the car horn with all my strength. The siren didn’t work, but the light signal must’ve been seen.

I was driving on the oncoming traffic line, trying to oversee the movement of other cars. Thank God it was early morning, and the streets were almost empty.

Scared pedestrians stopped, giving me the possibility to bypass them.

Blood covered the front passenger seat so much that, when I raised it, it started dripping on the floor with thick drops. Everything happened a few hours ago, but it still didn’t clot. How can it be? Again and again pouring the water with a disinfectant inside the car, I raised the chair. And the red liquid was pouring and pouring from it.

“Weapon. Give me the weapon,” I tried to take the rifle from the hands of an injured combatant. “They won’t let you go inside a hospital with it.”

“No. It’s unloaded,” he held it closer to the chest with his entire arm.

“Everything is alright. I’ll give it to your commander. We always take weapons and armour. If he asks, tell him that medics have everything…”

“No one will ask. He is 200 [military codename for “dead” — Ed.].

Pain covers my consciousness with bloody foam. No matter how much you try to wash it out and how many disinfectants you put inside it. Bloody foam is what everything around is made of.

Ukrainian Text by Oksana Chorna. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Sep. 19, 2022

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