DREAM 6. DAY OFF
I profited from my first let-out. It was a whole day off. Legally, you can’t do this, but I’ve spent almost a month on a piece of land of ten acres and my strong desire to rest corrupted me. So I managed to arrange things with my fellows to replace me on my duties, and there I was.
In the evening, Maria and Natalia picked me up. I happily captured every moment of this trip through the night. I told my army life stories and personal impressions.
“Look, you should write it all down,” Maria advised, looking in the mirror at me from the backseat.
Well, actually, that’s what I’m doing.
Late at night, we spent time with my family and our refugees. I shared my stuff, and they told me about theirs.
“You know, I enjoyed living in this sort of community. Everyone helps in some way,” Natalia summed up a month of close coexistence of four adults, one child, a dog, and my flowerpots (a family of cacti and a cheerful Poinsettia).
At midnight, we even played an unknown to me board game called Railroad Ink: Deep Blue. I’ve never been interested in railways or trains, but laying a track on your field with a felt-tip pen was fun. I’ll play it on a constant basis as soon as I get home.
Then there was sex. Passionate, tender, in a hurry, but with care. One that organizes all your thoughts. One that justifies any ordeal as an exhaustive reward. I love my wife. But most importantly, she taught me to feel loved.
I slept less than 5 hours. Because of falling asleep late and the clock switching to daylight saving time on that Sunday, I got an hour less of sleep, and there was an unbearable amount of sunlight in the room at 7:00. In addition, I was filled with anxiety that I would not have time to enjoy my first weekend in a month.
Breakfast included prosciutto, salmon, capers, Parmesan, and black bread with raisins and nuts. My enjoyment of the diet change was reinforced by the realization that all these products available in the Kolomyia grocery store are no longer available in russia. For them, this is an unattainable luxury, but for us, it is the everyday life of middle-class people.
After breakfast, I assisted my daughter with her homework. I hate this part of parenting, but this time it was different. Dolia showed considerable concentration and did not throw tantrums. Every minute of that homework was a joy.
As a reward for the hard work in her studies, Dolia and I played Kirby: The Forgotten Land. We completed the previous part together when Dolia was only 4 years old. When the invasion started, we played the KTFL demo on the Nintendo Switch right in the bomb shelter. We liked it. And I promised Dolia that we would also play the full version.
So my first army salary I partially spent on Kirby: The Forgotten Land, and we passed the first act of the game together. I can’t tell you how nice it is when your child shares your passion.
We went out for lunch with my daughter. Buy a few things, enjoy our favourite pita bread from the Twist Me café and visit the comic book shop with Natalia as the sole chairman now and Vova leading the board game club.
On the way, I noticed that the face of the city had changed a lot during the month of my absence. Noticeably more people. The average image has changed. People from big cities are very different. Russian language has increased a lot. Ukrainian is almost inaudible.
At the same time, the displaced people who did not know the customs of our city recaptured Vidrodzhennia Square from the local drinkers, for whom it was a permanent place of stay throughout the bright day all year round. And now the dry law has been in effect for a long time, and many new people are now occupying those benches where the drunk cattle used to lie.
I hope that one day this awful Soviet-style square will be reconstructed, and it will become fully suitable and convenient for people to visit it, for meetings, for gatherings or for holding events.
The comic book store was bustling with life. At one table, young guys were playing the military and economic strategy board game Scythe. Eight years ago I showed the very same guys what board games are, taught them how to play some of them, and now they are interested themselves, they play and, most importantly, buy board games.
And at the second table, Vova, our refugee, and Nastia, our regular visitor, were figuring things out about a very complex post-apocalyptic strategy on building up power. In 5 hours, they finished reading the rules and made two rounds. That is why the Ukrainian publisher Woodcat Games decided not to publish this game in Ukraine — it is too difficult to understand.
Customers also visited the comic book store. Unfortunately, comic book stocks are running out. Especially manga, and while the war continues, nothing new will be released. The situation is slightly better with board games. Some of them are even printed now, but the deliveries have also become very complicated.
I even managed to voice the final four anime episodes of the final season of Attack on Titan this weekend. Before the war, all forms of narration and voice acting were my main job.
But it turned out that this is not yet the “final” final, and I should spend on it some other weekend.
After a dinner with crispy vegetable salad and fragrant Chanakhi shared with my family and our guests, Maria and Natalia took me back to the barracks.
New acquaintances in pixel camouflage greeted me surprisingly kindly. After saying goodbye to my beloved, I laid out my things in my room, planned out when I’m going to eat the goodies I brought, took from the dryer stuff I’d washed before leaving, cleaned up a little, sat down on my chair at my table and exhaled:
“Phew, I’m home.”
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Ukrainian Text by Oleksa Melnyk, a volunteer fighter, translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Jun 20, 2022