If I ever need to move, I could probably fold this Ukrainian man up and take him with me in a suitcase. He lives under my floorboards, and he must be over one-hundred-years-old. I call down to him sometimes, Why don’t you come up and get some air? He just yells at me in Ukrainian, and I assume that means no.
I can hear his Ukrainian radio station blasting late into the night every night, but I’ve only ever seen him once. When I first moved in, I saw that the floorboards came up, and thought, This might be a secret space for banned books and buried treasure, but it was just a naked Ukrainian man, lying flat with his limbs zigzagging in every direction. If he stood up, he would have been amazingly tall.
He calls up to me sometimes. Every hour on the hour, between accordion music and children’s choirs, his radio station says the news, and I can tell the Ukrainian man feels important relaying to me the events of the day. Some days, it’s the only way I can bear to hear what’s going on in the world, muffled by floorboards, called up to me in a language I’ve been trying to understand.
I don’t know how the Ukrainian man got down there, maybe this house was built around him, or maybe he’s been hiding out in there since before the war. But I have a feeling he won’t be coming with me when I leave. He turns his radio up louder now then when I first moved in, and he calls out to me less frequently. Even under the floorboards, things are changing, and maybe that’s why he’s got his radio down there in the dark. He’s trying to keep a hold of it all with his eyes closed, to stop from dissolving into the static between songs for a little while longer