By Yarynka Yarosh, age 15, grade 9, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Standing near the window in her room, Christine cried quietly. She had long ago learned to wail silently so that no one would hear. Especially Mom. Or maybe she had just spent all her loud tears. Sometimes, after a series of such noiseless sobs, her pillow was too wet to sleep upon. Now those silent, salty streams were there once more, flowing down her cheeks, sprinkling her favorite violet raglan.
Down there, in the yard, her friends are playing volleyball. Olenka serves the ball to Max, he hurls it over the net at Slavko, but Slavko palms the ball back skillfully. Twins Marusya and Oles` back him up closely. The whole team was there, except Christine!
The last time, they had played together was at the start of November, before the first snow. Then came that long and cold winter when Christine fell ill. Now, all the danger was past her, but she still couldn’t play. So every single day she just stood at her window, hidden behind the curtain and watched the exciting game. Her friends shouted for her every time they went out, but she rejected all invitations. She had no difficulty running. No, there was another reason—she just couldn’t confide in them.
Christine sighed and sat on her bed, burying her head into her hands. Not a single hair under her fingers.
Last year had changed Christine’s life radically, ruining plans, dreams. The hospital room, IV`s, doctors, that awful laser lamp, endless chemos were again flickering before her eyes. Christine had no wish to replay all those dreadful months in her head, so she shook her head like she used to do before all that when she still had her beautiful hair. Oh, she was so proud of it! She had the longest hair in her year! And now she has nothing, but plenty of unpleasant thoughts scurrying in her head, like a scattered jigsaw puzzle. Christine was so full of self-pity that she started to cry again. After all this, she had learned to bear physical pain, but not the absence of her chestnut curls.
Oh, how she wanted to run with the “Volley Sixth” again, but…
Christine didn’t want her friends to see her without hair—anything but that! Her pals still had no idea that she was now bald—her parents bought her a wig so that no one would ever know.
Christine got up and returned to the window. The field was now ringing with laughter—Slavko had just returned the ball in an unusual manner, locking his fingers in a weird knot. Christine poked her head out of her hidey-hole behind a curtain and imagined herself running over the field with her friends. There she is, taking a pass from Slavko, then feeding the ball out to Olenka and running for it just in time to catch a master shoot from Oles`, and then…
Everybody at the field was suddenly staring at her, at her window. Five confused faces. Absent-mindedly Christine scratched her head and suddenly the chills went up her spine… She had forgotten to put her wig on! She usually went about the flat without her fake hair and watched the game from behind the curtain. Today, however, she got so carried away she completely forgot to mind the “danger zone”.
Realizing that her friends saw her baldness the girl yelped and hid her face in her hands. Then she darted away from the window, fell on her bed, and burst into tears. Tomorrow’s her birthday and all the members of “Volley Sixth” were planning to visit—that was the most tragic thing of all!
Her Mom came into the room, alarmed.
“I`m the only bald person in my class! No, in the whole school, in the whole city!” cried Christine loudly, like the moment she was told about her diagnosis. “I don’t want any party on my birthday!”
Mom hugged her tenderly. “But your hair will grow back, for sure, my skylark,” she soothed.
“I can’t speak to them normally, knowing they saw me bald!”
“If they are really and truly your friends, that should mean nothing to them,” she responded.
But does she really have… true friends?
That night Christine had a beautiful dream.
“Come on, Christine, serve it! That’s my girl!” shouted Slavko.
“It’s so good to play volleyball with my friends!” Christine was rejoicing, serving the ball on the other half of the field. Suddenly, she saw it hurtling towards her. She wanted to break it, but her knees quaked and felt like cotton…
Somebody touched her shoulder very softly. Christine opened her eyes and instantly squeezed them tightly shut, hiding from the tickling morning light… Mom and Dad were standing near her bed, smiling and holding a present. So she had only dreamt about the game, how sad!
“Ding-dong,” rang the entry phone in a while. Christine quickly slipped her wig on.
And there they were! Olenka, Slavko, Maxim, Oles` and Marusya. They had come empty-handed, and for some reason, were all wearing hats.
“Well, as agreed! On the count of three,” cried Slavko. “One, two, three!”
“Happy birthday!” And they swept off their hats as one.
They all had clean-shaven their heads!
And they hugged the birthday girl, all at once.
That was the best birthday party Christine ever had!
After the birthday treats, “Volley Sixth,” now fully complete, went to the sports ground before Christine`s window. Now Christine had difficulty identifying her friends on the field, she still hadn’t got over their new hairstyles.
Then she remembered her dream. Now she couldn’t recall whether she had her curls there or not. Not that it had any importance now. She was quite happy without her hair now, for she had true friends.
By Yarynka Yarosh, age 15, studies in grade 9, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Yarynka writes, “I like painting, playing piano, reading, speaking with my family about anything, writing poetry, and stories, of course. I’m from Ukraine, and I want peace in the whole world, and for ourselves.
“On the 9th of March, we were forced to leave our home city, beautiful Kyiv (because of the Russian invasion)… Now my family and I are in a safe place, and I’m so thankful to God that we are still alive! But my grandparents are still in Kyiv. Please, pray for them!
“I was really surprised, when I read your email (of acceptance). I’m thankful for your positive response. You made me happy and gave me more confidence and hope 🙂 Ukraine needs your prayers, we feel your emotional support.”