A Storyby Stephanie Cotsirilos
Juliana sits on crates in an open boxcar. She is between two other women with Kalashnikovs in their laps. A third woman, somewhat older, sits apart, a former librarian looking at the camera alert, as though expecting a precocious child’s question. Blonde Juliana gazes toward the boxcar’s roof, then wipes away tears. Though she is a teacher, she holds a Kalashnikov too. All four women do.
It is February in Ukraine. Juliana tells the reporter she just wants to live in her country. No other woman cries. One wears a black balaclava over her chin and forehead. She is meatier than Juliana, whose dark-purple nail polish dots fingertips that dab her eyes. The balaclava woman looks away. She almost smiles, as though mulling a piece of intel that pleases her, particularly because it is hers alone.