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18.4.22

THROUGH THE COLD OF A RUSSIAN WINTER

 

Through the Cold of a Russian Winter             

Through the cold of a Russian winter

they flee the one home they have known,

dragging a case of possessions

and wearing every garment they own.

 Deep snow impedes their sad progress,

chill winds freeze their faces and toes -

‘Where’s Daddy?’ the children cry, weeping.

Mother cuddles them – ‘God only knows.’

 They couldn’t have stayed in wrecked houses

without heating to ward off the cold,

so they huddled in bomb-shelter basements –

the mothers, the children, the old.

 Here in England we moan as the weather

turns from spring back to winter each day,

but we welcome the exhausted strangers –

how could we turn them away?

 Summer will come, and autumnal rain -

Hell will freeze hard ere we trust Russia again.

14.4.22

THE SAGA OF MUM'S CHAIR

 


THE SAGA OF MUM’S CHAIR

When Mum went into the Nursing Home she took her reclining chair, which was in her room for two years. In the lounge she wasn’t putting her feet up and her legs were swollen, so we moved her chair downstairs.

All was fine till my brother thought it had been removed for general use. He almost accused the staff of theft – he asked Mum, who got upset – he told the Home to move it back.

Today the manager tells me she’s spoken to Mum, who wants it left in the lounge between her two best friends.

Now I must tell my brother.

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A true story this week, and how I managed to condense it into 100 words is a mystery! I am now about to go and see Mum - after taking my compulsory lateral flow test - so I'll have to sign off, after a quick thank to Dale for the photo and Rochelle for the FF site.

30.3.22

BOOTS

 


BOOTS

Bogdan wandered the city in a daze of despair. His wife and children had left on a train three days earlier, thank God, because their apartment took a direct hit last night. He’d escaped, but pyjamas weren’t much protection against the bitter cold, and his feet were freezing.

His eyes followed the flight of a pigeon and there, just above him, hung some boots! He climbed gingerly through the shattered building to retrieve them, found jacket and trousers in another ruin, and life began to look hopeful again.

He headed towards the sound of gunfire – time to join the army.

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We take our peaceful lives for granted - until something as dreadful as Ukraine shows how fragile peace can be. Here in England there was a fund-raising concert last night, as many refugees are in dire need of everything - food, medicines and shelter being top of the list, and their army needs medical equipment as well as arms. My local pub landlord is organising a fleet of lorries, loaded with such necesseties, which are due to leave in a few days. Another pub landlord is taking in a family, as are many other families. I don't have the space, but we are all doing what we can for the women and children who have fled their country, leaving their men behind to fight the war. Hell will freeze over before we trust Russia again.



11.3.22

ORPHANS

 

ORPHANS

Marysa looked at their faces, tear-streaked and dust-covered. They’d hidden in the cellar till now, but that explosion was the final straw. “Right – we’re leaving.”

Older children helped toddlers into layers of clothing and, carrying the babies, they set off on foot.

At dusk Marysa spotted the cattle-shed and the exhausted children burrowed into the straw. “Titka, we’re hungry.”

Town-bred Marysa approached the cow with trepidation, but it yielded its aching udder gratefully to her fumbling efforts, and soon thirty bellies were full of warm milk.

Days later they reached the border, with several children perched on the cow’s broad back.

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I woke at five this morning, unable to sleep again for thoughts of the desperate plight of the Ukranians. Media reports of children making the journey to Poland unaccompanied because their parents are staying to fight the Russians. There was one child alone because his mother had to look after a grandmother too frail to move, another whose mother couldn't leave her orphanage full of children. Hence this story, prompted by Lisa Fox's photo on Rochelle's blog at  https://rochellewisoff.com/

Thanks to Google for translating 'Auntie' into Ukranian for me. 'Titka'.

2.3.22

MEMORIAL

 

MEMORIAL

‘That tower is all that was left of our church after the bombing.’ The old man spat comprehensively. ‘My lungs have never been the same since the gas. I was a child then, sheltering in the crypt with my parents. The ground shook so much it disturbed the foundations.’

‘You must have been terrified.’

‘It took them three days to dig us out, but our homes were gone. Papa went off to fight - that was the last we saw of him. The tower remains as a memorial to him and all the others who fought the aggressors.’

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There are similar stories taking place right now. In my local area a group of Polish Scouts are collecting for the Ukranian refugees. On my stint in the village charity shop this morning we packed up a suitcase full of warm clothes for their appeal. They plan to take them to Poland on Sunday. 

And I have two daughters-in-law from countries neighbouring Ukraine - one is Polish and one Slovakian. That brings the unthinkable far too close for comfort.

Pray for the Ukrainians, for all helping them, and for the Russian people who are also suffering under a rotten regime.

24.2.22

THREE KIDS UNDER FOUR

 

THREE KIDS UNDER FOUR

Elizabeth pushed the pram uphill, her new baby asleep, two-year-old Debbie sucking her thumb, little Mandy holding the handle. Elizabeth loved them all, of course she did, but sometimes she wished…

She stopped at the kerb as a lorry reversed, but Mandy kept walking – behind the lorry where the driver wouldn’t see her!

Elizabeth’s whole world shifted off-kilter. She couldn’t let the pram roll back, if she called Mandy she’d stop, if the child kept walking she might reach the other side safely.

Time froze.

Then the driver leaned out of his cab. ‘Don’t worry, mum – I’ve seen her.’

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This actually happened to me. I can see it now - a fourth-hand Silver Cross pram with my tiny son at the top end, my 21month-old daughter at his feet, and my 3-year-old holding on. Fifty years later I can still feel the terror of that moment. I seem to recall going straight into the pub, pram full of kids and all, to spend my housekeeping money on a brandy!

Thanks to Roger Bultott for the photo and Rochelle for choosing it as this week's prompt. You can read other stories via her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/

16.2.22

IN HIDING

 

IN HIDING

The police answered the alarm call too late.

While officers scoured the grounds, Jeff from Forensics did his work, kneeling on the blood-soaked Persian carpet, his bag of tools on an onyx table.

He jumped as a book fell from a shelf, revealing a scared face, but it was just a cat. He made a note to call Animal Control.

The body went to the morgue, the police ended their fruitless search, and the isolated mansion fell silent.

Nobody heard the children’s cries from the panic room – no-one was even aware of its existence, let alone the codes to open it.               

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The way my mind works often surprises me! Dale's photo made me think of secret rooms concealed behind bookcases, and from there we have this story. Thanks to Rochelle as always for running Friday Fictioneers for umpteen years, and for posting the prompts that get our minds working.   https://rochellewisoff.com/  Go to her blog to read other stories - or to write your own.