Ciekawe, nie wszyscy, którzy są zaginione (Not all who wonder are lost) The colors run together, her vision blurs staring at the same picture some would call majestic; bright, natural green, soft sky blue and rustic brown, the tree bark splitting at the edges, creating a harsh but petite shadow against the large, structure on which it has grown. It has matured; it has aged. But now the fibers that hold its collection of splinters, it’s components that look appear all the same but in reality all maintain their own separate, mystifying traits, are weighed down by simple ness. They begin to break away. She was splitting at the edges. Yesterday was the last time she would feel her long, chestnut braid bounce against the back of her neck as she walked slowly, begrudgingly back to her village. Each step, feeling every muscle contract from the tips of her metatarsals to her neck, thinking that that would be the last place her feet every settled on that patch of grass. Something round, peering from a distance interrupted her daze. “Halina! We thought you were lost!” Looking down, she smirks and shakes her head at her brother. Maybe it was condescending but he never understood, none of her family would ever understand more than this. Halina never wished for this. She didn’t wish for the red crevices the woven handle of the straw basket imprinted into the palm of her hand. Branded, she thought. Tired, she acted. Freedom, she wished. “No all who wander, Kuba, are lost.” ~ Stepping into the urban cocoon that is only 13% percent of her country, Halina is overwhelmed by curiosity; her mind keeps telling her to reach out and touch things, she feels innocent, like five year old discovering something for the very first time, eyes wide and mouth open, as if everything new that comes into her frame of vision shines with an iridescent gold halo. This is when she realizes that has never really seen her country. Her daze is interrupted by her arm being pulled into a new, unsuspecting direction. Her new roommate Ewa, a Warsaw native, has designated herself as tour guide extraordinaire amidst the duration of her stay at the University of Warsaw. She’s half walking, half running to keep up with her, pushing through crowds of people she sees colors; loud magenta, brilliant sunset orange, a color she has only seen the horizon wear and red. Striking, hypnotizing, enchanting red. She stares at her country’s flag. Its colors did not always represent freedom and democracy. Red, crimson represented power and oppression. Today they allow her to stand before the gates of her future and enter. Today she enters of her own free will. Ewa finds her again, and while scolding her for disappearing, runs toward the nearest pub. Her favorite, Halina assumes, because she wouldn’t stop blabbing about it when she first arrived along with what color they should paint their dorm room or if they should purchase matching comforters. Pushing open the door, they are laughing focused on each other. But as her last step across the threshold completes in motion, hitting the floor…every atom, every being in the world, freezes. For a moment, it’s as if the universe has allowed her a courtesy, granting her a moment to assess how the broken glass at her feet almost shimmers, the light reflecting off of it and into her eyes. As soon as she turns her head to stare up at the man on the bar, everything resumes. The first thing she hears is Ewa scream; she tugs her arm to leave the chaos. But Halina simply walks forward out of her grasp and embeds herself within the crowd of drunken, screaming strangers. She immediately feels warmth, she feels passion. Something that is rather foreign to working in the fields for fifteen years. She listens. “We used to be them! Twenty five years ago, we were Ukraine! But we took care of ourselves!” The crowd around her screams in agreement, it makes her jump. But she enjoys the goose bumps that rise on her skin.
“Now, they need someone to take care of them! We are not looking for another cold war! The Soviet Union is dead, they will not take away the freedom of our brothers!” The crowd screams again. She feels beer splash on her face but she keeps her eyes open watching the chaos unravel. She did not find herself scared or trapped; that was the old life she had buried. As he spoke, a weight fell upon her heart. Debt. Ukraine was also splitting at the edges. ” Wolność!” the man shouted. Freedom, she thought. Everybody else began to shout too, in their rhythm, their own voices as if it had a special meaning to them too. As if they all had their own debts to pay. She threw her hand in the air and shouted, a battle cry arose from her throat. She thought it may have been the loudest noise she had ever made in her lifetime. Over and over again, she screamed. She let the air arise from her lungs, knowing she would be horse in the morning. But she didn’t care. Halina would save enough air just to tell ewa what color they would paint their dorm. Red.