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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The next day, at 9 A.M. sharp he was knocking at her door. Azade was awake, although she hadn’t been sleeping to well. She opened the door wearing her pajamas and covered in a fluffy colorful robe. Her eyes were red.
When he saw her, Bryan’s eyes widened.
“Are you alright?” he asked her. “Oh my God, the time zone?”
“I think so. I slept well the first night, like a log, I was probably more tired. But tonight I could only fall asleep at around three, I didn’t fall to deep asleep, I kept waking up…”
“Good. Then, we’ll first go grab a coffee. You drink coffee, don’t you?”
“Of course I drink coffee. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Aaa, well I don’t know. You’re new and I don’t know your habits…”
“Don’t worry. I don’t think I’m that different from you.”
“Okay,” he smiled, “I’m sorry.”
“Good, now bye. Take a walk for half an hour, until I take a shower and get ready.”
“What? You are throwing me out?” Bryan said joking.
Azade looked at him, half serious, half amused.
“What did you think that I was going to invite you to join me?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” said the man.
He didn’t give her time to protest, he noticed she was ready to jump like a bow.
“I’m off to get coffee! Bye.”
Azade laughed and she closed the door behind him. She then got in the shower. The hot water cooled her down. It did her well to feel it caressing her hair and body. She dried off and she put her clothes on, she only left her hair wet and curly.
In precisely half an hour Bryan knocked on the door again.
“What, are you Swiss?” Azade asked him looking at her watch. “So precise…”
“I just want to impress you,” he answered, “and in fact I am always late and forgetful.”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “You are trying to trick me again, but this time I won’t bite.”
She sipped from the coffee, thanking him.
“Ah, it’s so good! I really needed it!”
“Do you want us to go have breakfast here, or can I show you my favorite place?”
“Favorite place! Starting tomorrow I’ll get the chance to eat here all the time.”
“Let me get my purse.”
Outside, in the light of the morning rays, Azade’s hair was shining in colors that nature had created especially for it. Bryan was looking and couldn’t take his eyes off of it.
“What is it?” she asked, and she walked her hand through her hair. “Is there something?”
“Yes, a rainbow,” Bryan answered.
Azade contended to smile at him.
“Through here,” Bryan eventually rouse.
He offered his arm, which Azade didn’t refuse. They started together, walking, beneath the autumn’s trees, which changes the leaves’ colors from the summer green to a symphony of nuances.
They walked for almost ten minutes, talking about birthplaces, childhood, college, jumping form one thought to the other unruffled. Azade found out that Bryan was from Philadelphia, that he lived on Ainslie Street, that he went to a catholic school situated at a ten minutes’ walk from home, that he had a dog, Star, white and small, with curly fur, like a sheep, whom he loved a lot, but whom died of old age before he left for college. He chose Boston, although he first thought of staying in Philadelphia and going to Temple, but he came here and he didn’t regret his decision for one moment.
“I like Philly, don’t you think I don’t, but here I feel at home, if I may say so.”
“I get it,” said Azade. “That is how I feel about Zürich, although I love, I believe just as much, my home town.”
“Now you will get to love Boston. Look we’ll start with breakfast here, which beats any breakfast you might have had.”
“Let’s see,” said Azade. “We’ll see…”
The small restaurant had only a few tables, tastefully organized.
“It’s really nice,” said Azade, “and cozy.”
“What do you recommend?”
“Obviously, pancakes. Now, have you ever eaten pancakes before? I know it’s not a very European meal.”
“Not at all, but there are restaurants which included it in the breakfast menu. Although, I must admit, I didn’t ever have pancakes.”
“Perfect! There is no better place to start. After you will get to taste these, you will never want others.”
“Hey, you are really selling it. Do you hold any shares here?” the girl laughed.
“I wish,” said Bryan.
A young waitress came. She had a name tag which read: Jane.
“Hi, Bryan,” she said. “Hello,” she greeted Azade as well.
“Hi,” she answered.
“How you doing?” asked Bryan.
“All right, thank you, what will you have today?”
“We want two pancakes each, big size.”
Then to Azade:
“Do you also want eggs?”
“No. I shouldn’t overdo it yet…”
“And two eggs for me, please.”
“OK,” said Jane. “Coffee?”
“We could have some. Thanks.”
Jane poured coffee to their cups, and then she left. The cook prepared the pancakes and eggs right there, beneath their eyes, on the big hot hob besides them. Azade was fascinated to see how he prepared it, Bryan was fascinated by her.
“You are very beautiful,” he told her.
“Thank you,” the girl answered, in a simple manner.
She liked Bryan, and she thought that they were going to be good friends. She didn’t yet know what to do to cool him down without upsetting him, but she said to herself that she didn’t have to beat her brains over it so soon. “All in good time” she thought.
The movie was a love story, of course. But this didn’t really impress Ana. She was sitting quietly on a chair, with Mircea on the other side. Amanda was sitting to her left, and next to her was Ioan. It was clear that Amanda liked Ioan, she had told her again, before the boys came to pick them up. And now, immediately after the film started, they had started kissing. Ana had put her left hand to her forehead, to attenuate a little the image of the two.
“Luckily we’re on the last row, otherwise everybody else would see us!”
She was trying to focus on the movie, to ignore the two young lovers, who seemed that they were devouring each other with indescribable hunger. She didn’t even feel, at first how Mircea was delicately touching her hand with his. When she eventually felt it, she froze.
“It’s all right,” Mircea whispered to her.
Ana looked at him with her big eyes. She didn’t know how to react. Her heart was racing, as if to jump out of her chest, and she didn’t understand why. She had never looked at this boy, as she had never looked at any boy, like at a potential lover. She hadn’t thought about love for one moment. Only about school and learning. And now, here it was, a delicate touch had changed her perspective, had ruined her balance like a rock thrown in the surface of the water.
She knew very well that the rock creates waves that spread in concentric circles, which can grow as they get closer to the shore. The image of a tsunami tormented her. But she realized that she liked being touched on her hand so delicately, by Mircea, that she liked the young man and that she wished he would kiss her, as the other one was passionately kissing Amanda. She blushed at the thought that went through her mind in an instant. And when she finally winked her big eyes, keeping them closed longer than it was necessary, the boys’ lips approached hers dangerously close, irresistibly close.
Ana abandoned herself in the kiss, and when it happened she did it as conscientious as she did everything else. She abandoned herself entirely, with all her soul.
She didn’t even realize when the movie ended. The fact that the lights turned on was a sign. She stood up, ashamed. She looked around. No, nobody seemed to notice the change that was taking place inside her.
“That is it? It’s over?” asked Amanda, stretching like a kitten after a nap in front of the fireplace in a rainy, gloomy day.
The two boys laughed. Ana confirmed, nodding.
“Come on, let’s go.”
“Why the hurry?” asked Amanda. “We just got here…”
“I felt the same,” Ana agreed.
It was no longer necessary for her to hide, at least not from her friend, to whom she would always confess, even the smallest details.
The two boys were also at sea, therefore, only after a few minutes while waiting for everyone else to get out, they headed towards the exit as well.
“It was wonderful!” said Mircea.
“Yes, it was a wonderful movie,” Ioan confirmed.
The girls started laughing, as for a good joke, although the boys had said it in such a serious voice. But, immediately after they realized it, they started smiling as well, happy.
They took the girls by the hand and just like that, each one with his pair, they went out of the Cinema into the hallway that led to the mall. It was the only Cinema in town, built once with the mall, much smaller than the malls of other cities in the country. All the old Cinemas were closed one after the other, and the halls had become who knows what, the most famous of all, Patria, was laying closed in continuous state of decay.
“Someone should renovate this cinema. It could end up being a wonderful; if not a cinema hall, then something else, for example a concert hall.” Ana said once, when she was passing by with Amanda and a few other colleagues from school. Some of the girls confirmed nodding their heads, others shrug their shoulders as if saying “What can we do?”
“Where do you want to go?” asked Mircea.
“We don’t know,” said Amanda.
She looked at Ana.
“What do you think?”
“Well, she started, we could go to Piața Sfatului. Then we’ll see.”
“Yeah, it’s a good idea,” Ioan confirmed.
“We’ll take the bus to Livada Poștei,” said Amanda, “then we’ll go to Piața Sfatului through După Ziduri, what do you say?”
“Agreed,” said Ana.
“Completely agreed,” said the boys as well.
The bus wasn’t very crowded at that hour, so they were able to find two empty seats. The boys, like true gentlemen, offered them the seats.
“Thank you,” the girls accepted, smiling.
The boys were left on the corridor, holding their hands on the bus bar, smiling at them. The girls were giggling.
“I saw you,” Amanda told her.
“Yes, yes! I told you it was going to be alright. However I didn’t expect you to give in so quickly…”
“Neither did I,” she answered. “But his touch took me by surprise.”
“What? Where did he touch you?” Amanda asked her with surprise.
“On the hand, here,” Ana showed her.
“Aha,” Amanda exclaimed.
“Where did you think?”
“Nowhere, I was just thinking. I didn’t get any inappropriate touch either,” Amanda said. “He was very well behaved.”
The bus was approaching their station. The boys signaled them, the girls nodded that they knew. They stood up and when the bus stopped, the boys offered them their hands when descending.
“Oh, thank you,” said Amanda on a bit more spoiled voice.
“You are welcomed,” answered Ioan.
“Thank you, you are kind,” Ana told her chevalier.
“The pleasure is all mine,” said Mircea.
They started, two by two, next to Casa Baiulescu, on the irregular sidewalk. A few cars were looking for empty spaces in the next parking lot, but the youngsters quickly crossed the clogged area. Immediately as the sidewalk was narrowing, everything became calmer. The small spring was quite active, inflated from the rains from the previous week. But now it was all right, the sun was about to set and one could no longer feel the sultriness of the day. They were bathing in the evening’s pleasant warmth.
Ioan took Amanda by the hand. Mircea did the same with his girlfriend. Then he pulled Ana so close to him, and he caught her by her waist. They stopped in front of an arch made by the old walls, and they had a long kiss. Then they went after the first too, who had stopped on a bench next to Graft Bastion. The White Tower and The Black Tower were watching over from up above, counting the minutes their lips would remain separated.
Ana felt dizzy, as if sweet nectar had made her drunk and left here wanting more.
Each break they took seemed longer. During each break Mircea smiled at her, irresistible. The young man’s lips seemed especially made for kissing, although she hadn’t noticed this before.
Ana smiled too in their moments of respite. Mircea was looking at her and he was caressing her hair.
Amanda, in her own turn, couldn’t get enough of her chosen one. They didn’t pause from kissing, they continued for minutes on end.
“You should breath,” Ana couldn’t help telling them, when they would stop.
The two started laughing, and this made them stop.
“Why would we?” Amanda asked after a few moments of laughter.
“Indeed,” Ioan confirmed. “Why do we need to breathe when we have this?” And he rushed again to Amanda’s lips.
Ana returned to her lover.
“They are off,” she told him.
“Yes. Isn’t it wonderful?”
“Hi, hi,” she giggled. “You know, I never thought I would ever say this, but yes!”
Ana stood up, Mircea jumped up as well.
“Come on, shall we?”
The two then stood up themselves, clinging to each other like the two halves of a nut. They started quickly.
“Come on, how long do we have to wait for you?” Ioan asked, laughing.
“Neluțu!” Mircea shouted, “I see you’re in the mood to joke.”
“Well, yes, Mirciuțu,” he replied in the same tone.
Mircea let go of the girl’s hand and he ran after Ioan. He, in his turn, let go of Amanda and started running, followed by the other one.
The girls, left behind, had grabbed each other’s arms, laughing.
“Children, what can you do,” said Ana.
“Yes,” answered Amanda, following Ioan with her greedy look.
 A Romanian specific colloquial and diminutive form for “Ioan”.
 An improvised diminutive form for “Mircea” created by using the rules which apply to “Neluţu”.
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