Snowflakes were falling on her coat and short blonde hair. With a thousand-yard stare she looked at the car that carried away the most precious of what she had. Insensible to cold, she turned and slowly walked off.

“Hey, you lazy”, the voice of her father pretended to be stern and commanding, “sit back and tell me about your history lesson!” “We studied Second World War”, she said, “how Hitler treacherously attacked Europe, despite all international agreements.” “Oh now!” he chuckled, “what words she knows: international agreements!” They laughed.

She was only nine then, and no one believed that the war will come again, and so soon. Stories of grandmothers seemed irrealistic, like ancient Greek myths, and military parades caused only curiosity and a desire to receive a balloon. She remembered her mother dress her nicely, braid her long hair and all three of them go to the parade to look at the columns of tanks and marches of soldiers… happy, cloudless childhood.

Now her friends are soldiers, and tanks drive around the city not for the parade. Every day there are gunfire and explosions, everybody has long forgotten about clean water and adequate food. Most have fled the country, except those who had nowhere to go or had serious reasons to stay. She also had such a reason. Before…

“Hey, let’s go mushrooming?” father offered cheerfully, “take your friends from the institute and we’ll have a great outing!” “And won’t you be bored with us?” she said for show, knowing that he likes to spend time in her student company, and that friends eat out of his hands when he starts talking about medical discoveries and inventions. It’s a question who they will want to see more… “And invite Andrew”, dad winked.

When she was twelve she knew exactly who she wants to be when grown-up. Doctor, like her dad! By that time mother had left them looking for a better life. After grieving a little the girl began to consider life with her dad quite happy: heart talks, good advice and sincere understanding between them. However, in the age of seventeen for some reason she changed her mind and applied for a web designer instead of medical school. The fun times began. Andrew came in sight.

Andrew called her “my Rapunzel” and surprisingly quickly found a common language with her dad. Medical student, the guy easily understood their “secret” buzzwords, visited their home again and again, and six months later became an inseparable part of their little world. All three of them were sitting on a terrace, sipping an oolong made by Andrew, and emotionally discussing the connection between science and art, the role of man in the universe, or just a good book. That year, on the first day of spring, Andrew had proposed to her.

Then the war came. At first it was far away, then nearer and nearer, and a month later the first missiles fell in their city. By this time dad and Andrew were not beside her: without waiting for draft notice, they went to war. The next time she saw them only for a minute, just for a goodbye before a gray car drove away their bodies.

Small prints of her shoes on a new-fallen snow composed a lonely line in half abandoned city. Absently staring at snowflakes on their sleeves, she didn’t notice coming to the right place. Behind one of the doors in the long half-dark corridor sat a man in uniform impatiently looking into the papers on the table. “Last name …?” He looked up at her and paused. “I want to enter for medical battalion,” she said shortly.

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