Foreword: Written in honor of the Eastern Ukrainians, published as a story the West will never share. This, I believe, is the cost of freedom, of liberty-it is death by those who claim to honor "freedom and liberty."

The story is true, the man (each bolded word refers to this said man) is real, and his pain understood. Without further ado, I present:


All It Takes

by Marisa Chuikova

As the alarms rung, the grizzled, young company commander waved his men to the bunker. As the hard shells burst in the background, one fell particularly close—about a block away. The lieutenant froze, realizing roughly where the shell had landed. Waving to his trusted sergeant, he ordered, "Masya, take the men to the bunker."

The dazed commander took off to a trot, running as fast as he could to the strike site-the direction of his house.

As Masya observed his commander's back growing smaller with distance, Masya turned to some of the men and said, "Kid, Vanya, you two with me. The rest to the bunker."

The moment the lieutenant overcame the block's distance, his heart fell. As he suspected, it was his house that had been hit. Hastily opening the door, which was still intact, he rushed to his bedroom and stared at the gaping hole in the ceiling and piles of debris upon his bed. Blood was splattered here and there, with bits of human flesh staining the walls.

"Daddy?" As he lowered his eyes to the floor, the young lieutenant recoiled in horror and struggled to control himself as he looked at what was his five-year-old daughter.

Her upper half was unharmed, but where her legs used to be were now but shriveled stumps of flesh, vein, and raw bone. The shell had done its work.

"Daddy, I can't feel my legs."

Collapsing, the young father beheld his daughter in his arms, cradling her head in his lap. Holding her right, he started whispering, "Mar, it's going to be alright."

Little Mariya asked, "Daddy, where did Mama go?"

Struggling to smile, the pained father whispered, "She's safe honey, she's safe and sound in Rostov-on-don...After the war, we'll go there to visit her and we'll vacation in Sankt Petersburg, ok, honey? We'll go see the Nevsky Prospekt, the Royal Square..."

Gulping, the young father struggled to finish these last few words and let his sentence taper off. He knew that soon the pain would kick in and become unbearable. To make matters worse, there were no more medical supplies in the hospital.

Slowly removing his Makarov from the holster on his right hip, he gently cocked the hammer and aimed it as his daughter's head, a tear slowly slipping down his face.

"Mar..." Gasping for breath, the father let out a soft sob. "I just want to tell you...Daddy loves you very much..."

"Daddy, I love you too!" Beamed little Mariya.

Gripping his pistol tightly, the young father closed his eyes.

Bam.

As the peals of the gunshot rolled off the sides of the ghost-like city, the bit of solace remaining was interrupted by shells erupting in the distance and the sobs of a lost father.

Dropping the pistol in his hand, the young father groaned terribly, a masculine wail amidst the blood and destruction. He had seen manny a horror, and this was his worse yet...

Sobbing slowly, the young father kept whispering, "Daddy loves you..."

"Daddy loves you..."

Outside, Masya and the other two men heard the gunshot and came running through the door, only to find a father and a daughter. Taking their caps off their heads, they made the sign of the cross.

After a few moments of silence, the young father gently laid his daughter's head on the floor and tenderly brushed her eyes shut. Wearily glancing at his men, he smiled appreciatively and walked up to Masya. Placing his right hand on Masya's shoulder, he began to order slowly, "Masya...you know...under the tree where I buried my wife...please see to it that Mar is buried next to her."

"Y-yes, Commander!" Answered Masya firmly. "We are here for you, sir."

"Thank you, and thank the brethren for me too."

"No problem, Commander, we have your back."

The young man smiled again and hobbled off slowly towards the command center.

As the commander faded into the bright sunlight, Masya stared at the other two. "Gentlemen, you heard him. Let's do it."

So saying, the three men gingerly lifted the young girl onto a stretcher and carried her off to the burial site.

Afterword
Unfortunately, this is based on a true story of a young soldier in Slavyansk, Donbass Region, East Ukraine. A couple notes, the protagonist is labeled in bold for a reason, to issue a transition, a change. Sorry this is a bit dark, still working on a romance right now, but I felt convicted to write this one first...

Hope this was at least partially decent. Any and all criticism is accepted.

Thank you for reading.
-Vika