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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Amanda and Maria got off the taxi in front of the club, just as cheerful as they had got on.
“I’d like to see you now,” said Amanda. “Dancing, not telling stories–”
“Who? Me? Hmm, I dance like a champion! I would like to see you… to see how staggering you are.”
“Me? Staggering? Ha! I took dancing classes for one year with…”
“You know what? I’m not going to let this ruin my fun!”
“That’s the spirit!”
There were a lot of people in the club, mostly youngsters, eager to rinse from the ranks, to fall in love or, and to mate. The music was deafening, therefore Maria and Amanda hat to shout to get along. The only free table they found was on one side, a table with two seats, exactly what they needed. And the best part was that it was quieter there, therefore the two friends could talk without screaming.
“What should we drink?” asked Maria. “A cocktail? What kind would you like?”
“I don’t want anything too soft. It’s not a good time! Therefore I’ll have a White Russian.”
“Great. Then I will have the same!”
Maria ordered two drinks from a cute waitress, who didn’t seem older than 16.
“Nevertheless, she probably is,” said Maria.
“Sure,” confirmed Amanda. At least 18. “Otherwise she wouldn’t be working here.”
The girl came back with the drinks.
“May I ask you something?” asked Maria.
“Of course,” said the waitress.
“You are so beautiful, and you look so young… how old are you?”
The waitress smiled, but she did blush when she heard the compliment.
“You know, a lot of men have told me that, but, never before, a woman. You are very beautiful as well,” she told Maria.
“Thank you,” she answered.
Amanda looked at them amused.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the waitress told her, “you’re beautiful too, don’t get me wrong.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not gay, like my friend here.”
The girl blushed. Maria started laughing.
“She is kidding, don’t worry!”
The waitress wanted to leave.
“I am 19,” she turned to say. “So, I am of age and I am fully responsible for my acts.”
“I’m glad,” answered Maria quickly. “I am Maria. She is Amanda.”
“Mirela. Happy to meet you. You seem like very nice girls.”
“We’re happy to meet you too,” said Maria.
Mirela smiled and then she went to other clients, from another table.
“This was interesting. I could swear she flirted with you,” said Amanda.
“Get serious. She was only being nice.”
“Yes, because you’re cute? I mean, beautiful?”
“No. That’s a good one. You think so?”
“Hello. You are interested? “
“Well, why not? After all, she is beautiful. And only a woman knows what another woman needs…”
“You are not serious!”
Amanda stared at her. Maria didn’t even blink.
“You had to find out eventually,” she told her.
“I can’t believe it,” cried Amanda. “You are not serious!”
“You said that already.”
“Yes, but I still can’t believe it. Come on, I’ve known you all my life. I’ve never noticed anything strange about you–”
“You think it is strange?” Maria stopped her.
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean it that way. What I meant to say… I mean, you’ve never shown any sign that you’re not into men. On the contrary, you’ve always flirted with them…”
“Well, yes, because people judge you if you are not straight. I only trust you… so be careful, don’t let it slip!”
“Al right, but I don’t think–”
“You have to believe me. I know better! So, promise!”
“Okay, Okay, I promise.”
“What do you mean ‘What’?”
“What do you promise? Don’t play games!”
“Al right. I promise I won’t tell anyone that you are originally from Lesbos–”
“Hey, this is a serious matter!”
“No, it isn’t! It’s actually fun!”
Amanda started laughing. Maria tried to take on a serious pose, but she started laughing as well after a short while.
“You are right, it is fun.”
“Come on, cheers!”
They clinked their glasses of White Russian and they took a sip.
“Yep! Yummy, yummy!”
“Come on, call the girl and ask for her telephone number!”
“Really? You think I should?”
“Of course, I won’t mind. Although I should… This Mirela girl flirted with you although you are here with me. What if I was your lover?”
“Well, you are not!”
“But she didn’t know that!”
“Never mind, you can see from far that you are hetero!”
“Really? I love you, but I hate you!”
“Hi, hi, me too.’
Amanda signaled the waitress, who nodded that she got the message, and after she finished with the table she was at, she came to them.
“Yes? Can I help you with anything else?”
“My friend wanted to tell you something,” answered Amanda.
Maria blushed a little.
“But first,” continued Amanda, “I wanted to apologize for earlier.”
“No problem, smiled the girl. I’m used to the jokes, irony and people judging me based on my sexuality.”
“Yes but they shouldn’t. People shouldn’t judge you, people should mind their own business. It is, in fact, no one’s business who you love and how you do it! I was joking on Maria’s account, but that is how we are, crazy. And I wouldn’t have, if I knew…”
Mirela was eying her questioningly. Amanda, however, stopped and she was waiting for Maria to pick up from where she had left it. She gathered her courage and said:
“I’m gay too. I’m sorry I lied to you! I like you, and if you think you could forgive me, I would like to start over, to try again.”
Mirela looked at her surprised, then her face lighted. A large smile revealed her white and even teeth.
“Of course I do. I’ve liked you from the first moment. But I couldn’t believe I was wrong–”
“Well, you weren’t.”
“We deceived you,” added Amanda, “but we didn’t do it because we are bad persons, we did it out of ignorance. Can you forgive us?”
“It’s nothing to forgive. On the contrary, I’m happy.”
“Look,” Maria was writing something, “you have here my phone number. Give me a short call so that I can have yours as well.”
Mirela took her smartphone out of her pocket, she dialed the number written by Maria on the piece of paper. Maria’s phone, placed on the table, started singing. Maria rejected the call and then she memorized the number to her phone. She put a little heart next to Mirela’s name.
Amanda saw how happy she was and she was wondering how she could have missed it during all those years. When Mirela left their table, she couldn’t hold it in, she stood up from her chair, and she hugged Maria as strong as she could.
“I love you, girl!”
“Hey, slow down, I love you too, but you are squeezing me to death. What came over you? You didn’t just realize that you are gay too, did you?” Maria shriek with laughter.
“You wish,” Amanda laughed as well. “Let’s dance,” she said, standing up and grabbing Maria by the hand.
Ahad came out of his hut, followed by his victim, who could barely walk do to the pain he had caused her. When they saw him, his men whom were resting sprawling on the ground, everywhere, rapidly stood up.
“Come on; let’s finish what we started,” said Ahad, heading towards Saadiya, who lifted her head terrified. She tried to stand up, she wanted to run somewhere, anywhere, but she slipped and she fell in her own blood mixed with sand, sobbing with tears.
“Please,” shouted Azade again, from where she was laying, with her body dipped in pain as well. “Please take me instead of her!”
Ahad gave her a short, sharp look.
“Do you really want it?”
The woman nodded affirmatively, although she was terrified.
“Well, it’s not how you want it!” answered Ahad and continued walking towards Saadiya.
“Have mercy, please!” cried with a washed up voice Azade. “Why are you tormenting us so much?”
“Because we can,” grinned Ahad. “It’s in our nature!”
“It’s not true,” insisted Azade. “A person isn’t born bad, he chooses to do harm!”
“Then I choose!” said Ahad stolid. “And if you won’t shut up, I will gag you.”
“You can choose not to do harm! Any road starts with a first step,” Azade got to say, before Ahad signaled his men to gag her. Azade was trying to oppose, but unsuccessful.
“Wait just a little longer,” Ahad told her. “Your turn will come too!”
Two other men grabbed Saadiya and hold her tight, they opened her mouth and forced it to stay opened using the same piece of wood, dipped in blood and full of sand, and Ahad, tardily, took out all her molars and premolars, waking her up every time she would faint, until there was nothing left in her mouth except blood and pain.
“Now it’s your turn!” Ahad turned to Azade.
It wasn’t as easy with her. Azade struggled all the way, so that two men weren’t enough to hold her. Ahad didn’t really care that he was torturing her more precisely because she wasn’t staying still. But she told her once.
“If you keep moving, it will be worse!”
In fact, he was annoyed that her struggling was tangling him. But, he had all the time in the world. So he took his time. Azade’s torture took more than one hour, her grinders had long and strong roots therefore the pain she had to take was just as big. And when Azade fainted with pain, Ahad was happy that she wasn’t moving for a few moments and that she wasn’t tangling him anymore, but he woke her up anyway, because otherwise she wouldn’t have learned her lesson. He didn’t say anything else until the end:
“Now you won’t be able to bite anymore!”
Then he went to his hut.
The men dragged Azade to the cave, semi-conscious, and threw her on the ground. The other women were brought as well, shaved like sheep in a fold and locked all in the den. Saadiya was quite well on her feet, although the pain had extended from her mouth to her entire head. The other women did what they could, they would clean the two injured ones with rags from their clothes, they wiped their purple lips, they would clean the sand off their sun burned faces, scarred and torn by the merciless pliers.
Azade slowly opened her eyes.
She saw him leaning against her, smiling. The man was caressing her face and tenderly cleared the hair off her forehead.
“Bryan? I missed you so much…”
The women were looking at each other and crying, shaking their heads in despair.
“She’s hallucinating,” said Ghadah.
“Allah, have mercy,” mumbled Maha.
Azade caught his hand.
“Never leave me,” she told him.
“I promise,” he said.
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