Struggle. Love. Cry. Hope.
For Romanian click here.
A novel first published in Romanian (Eikon 2017), available in English (translated by Mihaela Alecu) on Amazon (click on the image).
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St. Moritz hospital was more animated than ever. When Ana got to work in the morning, first she was surprised to see so many people, then she immediately realized that something wasn’t right.
“What happened?” she asked the nurse, while entering the locker room.
“An accident on Julierpass… a bus full of tourists! There are many injured, but fortunately no one dyed! We don’t have too many details, because we couldn’t find anyone who speaks Russian. And they, German, no chance! We are waiting for a translator, he will be here soon.”
“I know a few words in Russian,” said Ana. “I’ve learned them from a high school friend…”
After changing her clothes she headed to the waiting room, where there were several Russian tourists whom had escaped uninjured or barely injured.
“If Amanda were here”, thought Ana. “Why didn’t I learn more Russian from her? I could have…”
“Hello,” she addressed them in Russian. Then, she thought for a few moments, to remember how to say “What happened?”
“Zdravstvuyte ,” said a tall, blond man, with deep blue eyes.
He started rumbling, so that Ana was forced to stop him, to signal him “Slow down, I can’t understand.”
“I, Ana,” she said afterwards.
“Alexei,” he answered and smiled.
He started explaining again, slower, indeed, but Ana still couldn’t understand much.
She was nodding every once in a while to encourage him.
“Does anyone speak Romanian?” the idea suddenly occurred to her.
She repeated louder, addressing all those who were there:
“Does anyone speak Romanian?”
From one side came the voice of a woman who was speaking with Moldavian accent:
Ana smiled and she breathe easier.
She headed towards that young woman, a beautiful girl around 20 years old. She had a deeper scratch on her face, but other than that she seemed alright.
First, Ana asked her:
“Are you OK? Did someone look at you?”
“I’m alright, thank you.”
Ana took a closer look at the scratch, she touched her cheek, next to it, and she pressed slowly. It was alright.
“A small bandage and you are off. Do you feel anything else? Does anything else hurt? Did you hit your head?”
“No, I’m alright. Thank you!”
“Well I couldn’t see very well, because I was admiring the mountains. I was looking out the window, but I heard the driver shouting at the car that was coming from the opposite direction. Then I turned my head, but all I could see was the driver trying to avoid them, and he got with the bus through some rocks and it overturned on one side. We were lucky it stopped… otherwise who knows in what sinkhole we would have ended…”
“OK, good, thank you. Stay here, if you need anything, here you have my card; you have my phone number there. Anyway, I’ll come back later.”
“Thank you, doctor!” said the girl.
“Zamfira,” answered the young woman.
Ana touched her shoulder softly, to encourage her and to show her friendship, she smiled and she left. She greeted Alexei as well, who was looking after her, as she went towards the wards.
They were almost full, almost twenty tourists were more seriously injured, without anyone’s life to be endangered. The driver had the most injuries, including a broken hand. But he was a solid and good-humored guy. He smiled to the nurses and he joked in his own way, afterwards he would laugh by himself. When Ana entered, a charming appearance, his face lighted.
“Hello, hello, beautiful doctor,” he addressed her in Russian.
“Hello” Ana answered, showing a discreet smile in the corner of her mouth.
“Aha, you speak Russian? I’m glad!”
“Not really,” Ana answered. Then she shrugged her shoulders, as she did not know what else to say.
The driver laughed. He would have liked to lend her a hand, but the pain stopped him from doing it. He contended to just signal her with his head, although only he understood:
“You are very beautiful. I hope you will forgive an old man like my self’s daring, but you are very much to my taste. I come to St. Moritz every month and I hope to see you again.”
Ana shrug her shoulders, but she smiled. She moved on, to make sure everything was alright.
Ana’s work was well appreciated, therefore, for one year she had become head of department at St. Moritz Hospital. She had become a neurosurgeon, as she dreamed of ever since high school, and she didn’t regret for one moment that she remained in Switzerland. Maybe just in the evening, when she would return home alone. Although now she had enough money to rent a place in St. Moritz, she preferred to keep the one in Samedan, where she lived ever since she got her job as a resident doctor in neurosurgery.
Samedan is a lovely city, surrounded by mountain landscapes that can take the breath away from any admirer, a stone’s throw from St. Moritz. Ana found a chic house, with only one bedroom, but with a huge living room, with an extending sofa useful if any of her friends would want to spend the night. But it was particularly appropriate for the parties she used to throw.
Now, the true meaning of the word “party” is in Ana’s case an evening of discussions with her friends, next to a glass of red wine. Ana’s parties never had loud music, dancing until exhaustion or plenty of alcohol. She remained the same good girl as when she was sharing an apartment with Azade. That is why many friends were coming, and her neighbors adored her. She never disturbed anyone, but she did help anyone who requested her help.
The most recent New Year’s Eve party that she hosted in her apartment was memorable. A few friends were invited: two couples, one married, Nina and Marco, the other one engaged, Julie and Valentin, two single friends, Selina and Lara, and a friend, also single, Simon. They read poems at candlelight, they listen to soft music, and they drank champagne at midnight. Ana had called home an hour earlier, as Romania was one hour ahead. Of her friends, she first called Amanda, of course, who did not answer so she wrote her a text wishing her all the best. “She might be at a party that’s louder than ours”, Ana thought happily.
At Switzerland’s midnight she left the others to call their parents and friends, and she watched them fondly from her favorite armchair. She was thinking of Azade, from whom she didn’t have any news. “Where could she be? Did she fulfilled her dream? I hope she’s happy wherever she is!”
The man sitting at the next table was staring at her. Amanda, although she blushed, she was thinking that it would be better not to turn her look away. She lowered her eyes.
“What is it?” asked Maria, Amanda’s friend and colleague.
“That guy, don’t turn around, keeps staring at me… Don’t turn around!”
Maria quickly turned her head, she couldn’t help it.
“He’s cute,” she told Amanda.
She sipped slowly from her straw drowned in her green lemonade, looking at the tall glass. When she lifted her eyes, the man was no longer at the table. Amanda took a serious pose for a moment, however she couldn’t really get upset. “After all,” she thought, “I will not be hit on in a bar…” She smiled to herself and the smile showed up on her face.
Maria signaled her with her head. Amanda looked at her, but she couldn’t understand.
“What is it?”
Maria burst into laughter, not getting the chance to answer her back. The stranger’s voice, coming frome one side was heards:
“I’m sorry young ladies, do you mind if I join you?”
Amanda startled so hard, that they all burst into laughter.
“Of course,” said Maria quickly, not to give Amanda the chance to turn him down. “I mean, no,” she laughed again, “sit down.”
“Gabriel,” the man introduced himself, while he was sitting.
“Maria,” she reached out. “And this red young lady is Amanda.”
“I’m happy to meet you,” he answered, and taking turns in shaking their hands.
“Me too,” said Amanda eventually.
She hadn’t felt like this since high school. Probably the recent break up, which affected her so much, made her feel so, if not shy, at least, reluctant. And this man, with brown eyes and black hair, with a well spruce beard, shingled, elegant, couldn’t be more than one looking for a one night stand, which she was not. And she decided to point out from the beginning. But Maria started rumbling before her.
“And don’t you have a brother? Or a friend, just as handsome as you? You know, I am single…”
Amanda stopped her, half joking, half seriously:
“Calm down, dear.” Then, to Gabriel. “Please excuse my friend, she tends to talk too much and off target.”
She emphasized the last words, to let her friend know, and Gabriel as well, the message: “I’m not interested!”, but Maria didn’t give up:
“Please, Gabriel, excuse Amanda. She has a broken heart and she doesn’t actually know what she needs!”
Amanda glanced at her meaningfully, but she didn’t say a word.
“I’m sorry” said Gabriel. “That’s not good for anyone. May I ask what happened?”
“No,” answered Amanda.
Maria was ready to answer for her friend, but she thought to let her if she wished to. Silence settled for a few moments.
“I didn’t have too much love when it came to love either,” started Gabriel.
“What?” cried Maria. “This one I’m not buying!”
“Me neither,” added Amanda.
“Why?” wondered the young man.
“Come on, didn’t you see yourself?”
“What, isn’t it true?”
“Come on, dear, he knows what he looks like. I’m sure he’s got a mirror.”
Gabriel showed a bitter smile.
“And despite this, here I am, alone.”
“Yeah, he’s right,” added Maria.
“Maybe it’s hard to believe, but you should know I’m not what you think I am. If I wouldn’t be used to it, I would be offended.”
Amanda took a closer look at him. He seemed so honest. She would have liked to believe him, but her body reacted differently, therefore she decided to go with her guts for now. She had read “The body knows more.” Definitely, if she wouldn’t have suffered as much, probably her body would have had a different reaction, not to reject him, but now it wasn’t that time. It was today, a day she wanted to spend enjoying lemonade with her friend and to forget.
“I’m sorry,” said Amanda, “it’s not a good time–”
“Come on, please, don’t be like that…”
Amanda had made up her mind and she stood up.
“But this doesn’t mean you have to go.”
“No, no! You are not going to do it!”
Gabriel stood up as well.
“Please, I apologize. It is better if I go. And, maybe, who knows, I’ll see you again, in different circumstances, more favorable.”
Amanda sat back down.
“Al right. Thank you!”
“It was a pleasure meeting you, anyway,” said Gabriel, and then he left.
Maria looked at Amanda fondly, but also reproachfully.
“You drove him away… can’t you see that you need a man to let go of–”
“No, you are the one who doesn’t see that I don’t need a man! That I don’t want to forget!”
“Alright, alright, I’m sorry. Come on, don’t be mad at me.”
Maria took the face of a kitten left out in the rain.
“Did you got over it? Did you got over your grief?”
Amanda finally laughed.
“Yes, I’m over it, but don’t you do it again!”
“OK, I can’t promise!”
“Should we go?”
“We’re going. Where are we going?”
They laughed again.
“I don’t know.”
“I would have taken you dancing, but there might be man there, and who knows, God forbid, they may want to invite you to dance!”
“Hey! I can dance!”
“Really? Then do you want to go? Really?”
“Yes, let’s go dance all night. Let’s dance all the misery away!”
“Away it goes!” confirmed Maria.
Maria signaled the waiter to bring the check. He came in a few moments.
“Let me,” said Maria, “you’re my guest.”
“OK, but I will pay for the dance!”
“Okay. Can we also have a cocktail, mum?”
Amanda laughed and any shadow of the pain she was carrying in her soul vanished off her face.
“Absolutely. We could even have two!”
“Now you’re talking,” Maria added, then she took Amanda by the arm and they went outside cheerful.
The cold coming from Tâmpa enshrouded them in a pleasant way.
Maria took another look at the bar.
“Do you think we should invite Gabriel as well?” she said laughing.
Amanda pushed her slowly with her shoulder; she burst into laughter as well.
“I don’t think he would come, even if we would beg for it…”
“Yes, we’ve probably missed our chance to have a menaj à trois…”
“You couldn’t restrain from saying something stupid?” said Amanda, laughing out loud.
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