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It’s better... at once

Myroslava Ilto

June 10 at 3.44 p.m.

“Where do you live? Please, be my friend. I’ll help you with everything. I’ve been able to do a lot of things for a long time. You have a goat, don’t you? I’ll feed it!” — said first-grader Luba and took my hand. Her family had to leave her own goat as well as the rest of the farm. Our military could reach their street, take people from basements and take them out under the shelling because rashists had already taken the rural cemetery, from which they covered the village with the white phosphorus bombs.

Luba is looking at the window, in the three hundred meters from the road burns russkiy mir (russian world).

June 10 at 8:13 p.m.

A driver, with whom we are to drive to Kharkiv tomorrow, said that I must be ready at five. And here I am on the road, a little more left to go, and I'm already giving up — I lean my head against the window and fall asleep. Lubochka, the girl saved from the bombed village, sits on my knees. She is as talkative as I am, and obviously, I’m here to listen to her, but fatigue takes its toll — I slumber. The girl is purring something about her friends, about an English poem, it seems, even recites it. It’s nice and amiably, her voice reaches me through the dream, and suddenly I hear the words: “...because it’s better at once, if you are dead at once, it’s a pity, but you can’t do anything with it, and it hurts you just because your death has come, but if you are injured — it’s more painful because you feel bad due to the others feel way worse, and what is worse, that you can’t help them. We worried the most that the shard would get stuck in anyone because we didn’t have even a peroxide”. And I’d like to wake up, but it isn’t a dream. The girl, who has just ended the first grade, between the English poems, thinks that it’s better to be dead at once.

Ukrainian Text by Myroslava Ilto. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – Jun 26, 2022

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