The Lantern of Ukraine
It was a very sad and quiet lantern. Standing just next to the playground, it should have been the happiest lantern ever. What could be better than shining for joyful bright children, seeing them playing and laughing with laughter that sounds like a spring stream?... But the lantern was horribly sad.
For several months it has been empty and dark, with no shine inside where it used to scatter with thousands of sparkles. Golden and warm sparkles that would be caught by kids, by their little hands. Those sparkles would fall on children’s hair, on their shoulders and noses. Almost invisible, they would make children laugh and believe in miracles, and those sparkles had been a miracle themselves. But they disappeared. It was dark and cold in the city that used to be the brightest, the happiest, and the lantern was also dark and sorrowful. No kids playing on the playground. No laughter. No miracles. The winter came, cold and quiet.Snowflakes were falling down on the grey ground, covering the trees, sleeping and having their own bright dreams, roofs of sad and dark houses, in the windows of which only candles were twinkling, and the lantern, sighing hardly and mournfully.
He remembered the times, when it was joyfully and airily on the eve of Christmas. So many happy people, looking for perfect gifts for their families, cooking special fragrant dishes that would smell sweetly and taste even better, decorating wonderful Christmas trees and sharing warmth and love.
The lantern liked looking in the windows of the house opposite the playground. He would observe the happiness and coziness of the inside: children, barely waiting for the miracle, their eyes, full of faith and joy; their families, preparing for the celebration, laughing and hugging each other; magical carols, whose melodies were spreading around the world, carrying belief and love.
But not this year. Every evening this winter was dark and sad. The lantern was waiting for its sparkles and little smiling children for long weeks in autumn and monotonous days in winter. But this Christmas seemed to be different, not merry at all.
Christmas Eve was snowy.Little snowflakes, white and pure, were falling down on the ground, like little ballerinas in snow-white dresses in a wonderful dance. Between the clouds the first star was twinkling and the star chain looked like a heavens bright garland.
The windows of the dark, almost invisible, house appeared gently warm. The soft candle light made the house look cozy and alive after all. The lantern was looking at this bright spot in the middle of darkness with a sad smile. Christmas this year was so lamentable…
Once the night became colder, the lantern closed its eyes and fell asleep. Through its dream, it heard the sound of little snowflakes falling on the ground. So quietly and gently, so slowly and beautifully. Then the silence was broken by a soft sound of someone’s little steps. The snow was crunching under tiny feet, and the lantern surely knew the identity of this stranger. Amazed, it opened the eyes –opposite it there was a little girl. She was wearing a bright funny pink hat, she held a huge shiny tape, and even in the darkness the lantern could see a smile on the girl’s face.
“Hi, little lantern," said the girl.Her voice was so thin, but it broke the horrible silence completely.
“Hi, little girl,” answered the lantern, knowing though that no children could hear him.
“Merry Christmas.” She stood on tiptoe, trying to hook the tape on lantern’s thin and long body.
“Merry Christmas,” sighed the lantern gently, so that the girl probably did not notice.
“Don’t worry, little lantern, your sparkles will come back soon. Just wait for them a little more. We will play on the playground again, just as it used to be… My friends will come home and we all will be happy!” She finally hung the tape up and was about to go home, but she lingered a bit longer. “Now you look amazing and very Christmassy! Have a great celebration, little lantern! Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas, little girl. Thank you for the wonderful present!”
The girl said goodbye and ran back to the house. The snow was still flying in an incredible dance with the wind, whirling like little ballerinas and slowly falling on the ground. It was quiet and dark. Again. But the lantern was not sad anymore. It was waiting for his bright sparkles and felt that they would return soon. And the world around will be happy and full of light.
Marusya Shcherbyna is 17 years old. She lives not far from Kyiv, in the Bucha region. Her writer's path started ten years ago, when she started writing down the stories she was always imagining. She absolutely loved creating new worlds and suddenly lots of wonderful stories were written. After some time, the first book of those little novels for children was published. Marusya took part in different writing competitions, and sometimes her texts were unexpectedly successful and won several prizes. After her first book was published, she didn't stop creating new characters and wrote new, exciting stories every single day. She also started writing poems that were published in a Ukrainian teenage magazine. One of them even became a song. Two years later the second book was published. This time it was something completely different: two detective stories that became loved by younger teenagers. After a short period of time the third book was published: the exciting adventures of a happy family, pirates, beautiful sea and lots of humorous situations, perfect for children and their parents. Currently, Marusya is working on other books, looking for inspiration everywhere. She has thousands of ideas and tries to bring them to life.