Three women, a 60-year-old, a 70-year-old and a 90-year-old drove in a car, away from their homes, farms and everything they owned. They had no destination. No place to go, no way to contact anyone and no promise that they wouldn’t get shot or blown up the next day in the continual attacks that terrorized their small villages.
Now wind blows through the bullet holes in the doors and windows, evidence of the Russian soldiers' dominance in their village. The 70-year-old looked down at the bullet hole in her arm and was reminded of the moment she received it. She was trying to help the 90-year-old escape from her house as the Russians burned it down, and she became the target of their machine guns. She lost consciousness, but with the help of the 60-year-old they were able to get the 90-year-old out of her house. Once they succeeded in rescuing the women from her burning house, the three hid in her freezing cellar for days. Her new wound continued to bleed and, because she has asthma, the freezing, thin air made it hard for her to breathe.
The three stayed there until the fighting in the village got bad enough that the Russians wanted her cellar as a bomb shelter for themselves and forced them out. As they forced themselves into her home, they tore her furniture apart and ripped her front door off the frame to make themselves bunk beds in their newly claimed shelter.
One Russian soldier asked her how far away Sumy was because his grandmother lives there. He was half Ukrainian and half Russian and yet here he was, terrorizing this rural Ukrainian village. He came back and talked with her many times, and he eventually told her that if she wanted to survive, she had to leave her village. He also said that the only way she would get past the Russian checkpoints was if she told the soldiers she was going to the Belarussian border. So, she found some blown apart tires to put on her bullet filled car and told the Russians she was going to Belarus.
While they feel gratitude that they still have their lives, the possession of life in their meek corner of Ukraine means terror and a struggle to survive.