“She’s losing so much blood,” Hanan announced and I remembered I was still carrying Lavra. All the seats were occupied, and so was the aisle. A man gave up his seat and I placed Lavra on it. I realized she was shot in the back after she flinched when I wanted her to lean on the seat. Her eyes fluttered slowly and her words were inaudible. I took off my sweater and tore a piece from it. I placed it on her wound and tied my scarf around it.
“You will be fine okay, I promise,” I whispered to her while holding her hand. She managed a faint smile and nodded.

Everyone in the bus was silent as though even a little cough would draw the attention of the soldiers who were miles away. The terror on their faces gave away their thoughts and I was certain they were all praying to reach Lviv alive. Throughout the journey, I tried to keep Lavra awake and prevent her from passing out. She had a terrible fever and even though everyone donated their water to enable me to wipe her face and neck, it only got worse.

We arrived in Lviv at 6:00 am. Everyone stormed out of the bus as though they were being chased by a monster. Lavra and I were the last to alight. I carried her on my back again and headed to the train station. While on the bus, we got news that there was a train heading to Poland and people were already scuffling to get on it. So, I moved as fast as I could, making sure Lavra didn’t slide off my back. The crowd and chaos at the train station made my movement difficult. I occasionally got elbowed in the face and neck but I persisted. I didn’t see who it was, but someone much stronger, shoved me aside and made me lose my balance. I fell backward and Lavra let out a yelp. I sprang up immediately and tried to pick her up, but she refused to comply. When I held any part of her body, she would scream that it hurt.
“Just go. You can’t lose this opportunity to leave this country because of me. You saved me once. Please don’t do it again. Don’t worry about me, I will be fine,” Lavra cautioned but I ignored her. I didn’t even have the time to remember when or where I had saved her before.

I straightened up and made to pick her up when I was pushed again. This time, I fell on my side, creating a distance between Lavra and me. I could see her in between the legs that scurried past, searching for me. I stood up again and moved toward her direction, but so many people had come between us so I could barely see her. I only caught a glimpse of her hair and part of her jacket. I fought through the crowd and they fought back. Eventually, I lost sight of her and couldn’t locate her anymore. I was being pushed, with my back towards the train but still thrived to move forward. Someone grabbed my arm and when I turned, I saw Osei.
“Where are you going? The train is almost full, we need to get in now,” he screamed.
“I need to find Lavra,” I said to myself more than to him. And as though he didn’t hear what I said, he pulled me along with him while I screamed Lavra’s name. The train began moving and I agitatedly looked through the window but still couldn’t find her. I didn’t know I was crying until I felt a warm liquid drop on my arm. I hoped that she was still alive wherever she was.

To be continued…

© Nasreen Zankawah,2024

Written by : Nasreen Zankawah

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