First Steps (15)

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).

Here you can read in on free, so don’t forget to Follow my blog to stay updated with all episodes.


For Azade laboratory hours were not a burden, as they were for some of her colleagues, who preferred the operating room. She enjoyed a lot doing research work as well.

“You never know when you might need it,” she used to say to Bryan.

 And he preferred action.

 “Air Force fits you like a glove,” she used to say. “Unfortunately, you will be sent to less friendly areas, if not even hostile.”

“You could say that,” he confirmed, “because there are war areas where I can be sent, Baghdad for example.”

 “Oh my God!” cried Azade.

“But don’t worry, doctors are not involved in the fights, they do not go to conflict areas, except after the fights end, if necessary. Some only stay at the bases, it depends of course of the specialty each has. I, being a radiologist, I don’t really have anything to go on the battlefield, like someone who is specialized in emergency response.”

“Yes but I’m still not much eased, knowing that you will be so close to the conflict area. A bomb attack could occur anytime or who knows what else.”

 “Don’t worry; behind our military base we are safer than in the middle of a crowded market…”

“You’re probably right. However I want you to promise that you will take care and that you will stay away from trouble!”

 “I promise,” he said taking his hand to his chest.

Azade left of his mimicry, and then returned to what she was working on.

Her supervisor, Prof. Smith, had observed her closely ever since she came. At first he was more reticent, but any shadow of doubt disappeared shortly after. She was by far the best student she had had lately, and he had never attended to students that were anything but very good. He knew that she was courted by many so he decided he should be the first.

“I need a research assistant professor,” he told her. “You are my first choice, he continued directly. The natural one. I would like to offer you the position, for starters for 2 years. Then, if everything goes well, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t work perfectly, after these two years you will receive an offer to be research associate professor. And from there on the road for being a professor is open.”

Azade was looking at him surprised, but also delighted by his offer.

“I know, it came unexpectedly, but please, you don’t have to give me an answer now. Think about it, ask me anything you want, but absolutely everything, don’t hold-back, and then you can give me an answer, I hope it will be a positive one.”

 “Thank you very much professor,” Azade finally answered with her eyes sparkling of surprise. “I’m very honored by your offer. And indeed very surprised. It caught me off guard indeed…”

 “I know and I hope you don’t mind my posing the problem so bluntly. But, and I am firmly convinced, you should expect other offers as well, from colleagues of mine. And who knows, maybe from other universities as well, because the recruiters – the true spies – are everywhere, searching for talent.”

“Thank you,” said Azade again, sincerely. “Wow, it’s overwhelming everything you’re saying. I think it’s interesting the time receiving job offers instead of applying for it myself… this system is very interesting.”

“It’s a very competitive domain,” Prof. Smith answered. “I will be honest, as you noticed this is my way of being: good people bring good money. In research we depend on the funds we receive mainly from NSF, and we always want to get enough funds. And in fact we always have. Precisely because we conduct top research. You will have your own laboratory, and soon you will coordinate PhD students. You will have very few teaching responsibility or maybe none at all. You will have the freedom to choose what you want to research, if you want to conduct your own research or to join an already existing team. I would take you in my team, but I don’t want to push you, pressure you too much and to make you feel like you are forced into it if what you want is to have your own team. Anyway keep in mind this option as well. Anything is possible!”

“It’s a dream job,” said Azade. “Professor, you have rendered me speechless!”

“I’m happy;” he told her when they separated. “I hope you will come back with a positive decision; I’ll wait for your answer until next week’s meeting. If by then you have any questions, you know where to find me! Also, my secretary can answer any question about the administrative part, budget and so on. Alright?”

“Yes, thank you very much!”

 “My pleasure.”

Professor Smith left, leaving her alone in the laboratory, enwrapped in her thoughts. This was how Bryan found her when he came searching for her in the laboratory, surprised that she hadn’t come to the café as usual.

“Is everything alright?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she answered. “I think so. I don’t know. In fact, no!”

“What is it, what happened?” Bryan got worried.

“It’s nothing bad, it isn’t anything unhappy, it’s just that Professor Smith offered me the position of research assistant professor in his team.”

“But this is wonderful!” cried Bryan, suddenly calmed that nothing serious has happened.

“No it is not,” she said. “On the contrary, it blows up all my plans.”

“Why?” he asked. “What plans?”

“Well, you know, you do remember that I am coming from Zürich. That is my workplace, that is where I got the fellowship that brought me here. Staying here it’s as if I would betray them.”

“But are they offering you a job? What contract did you sign?”

“It’s not about the contract. It’s about what should be done, the right thing…”

“Hmm, I think the right thing is the one that fits you best. What helps you more in your career? Where do you feel better, safer? Where would you like to stay? To live, to start a family–”

“Oho, there’s a long way until then,” said Azade. “How could I talk about starting a family when I don’t even know what to do now, where to go, where to stop!”

Azade was about to cry. Bryan had never seen her so upset before. All the time, even in the most serious circumstances, Azade was still serene, and other than that she was always optimist and joyful. He did not know what to do, how to help her, so he took her in his arms, protectively.

Azade hold him in her arms as well, holding her head on his shoulder. She refrained from crying and the tears disappeared from her eyes. The hug made her feel good, and even though it did not provide an answer to her dilemma at least it was taking the weight off her chest.

Bryan was caressing her hair. He could have kissed her, as she stood with her eyes closed almost sobbing. But he refrained from doing it. When Azade broke loose from his arms, thanking him, he regretted he didn’t kissed her. But, he was thinking that on the other hand it was probably better, maybe it wasn’t the best moment. Maybe instead of making things better it would have made them worse. But, what if it is a mistake, what if it would have helped her to make a decision? What if the fact that she has him, really has him, would have convinced her to stay. It would have been one more reason, actually, the main reason, he encouraged himself, for staying here. He regretted again. What if the fact that he didn’t kiss her made her think that he wasn’t by her side enough and this was going to make her turn down the offer.

Bryan was tormented by all these thoughts. He was silent, thinking and not knowing what to do. Azade grab the few things she had in her small colorful backpack and she headed towards the exit.

 “Shall we?” she asked, seeing that Bryan was not moving.

He flinched, unobservable. He smiled, in order to calm her down.

“Of course, let’s go.”

“To the cafeteria?”


 A ray of hope appeared in his mind.

“When are you supposed to give an answer to the professor?” he asked her.

“Next week,” she answered.

“It’s Okay,” he said, “it’s no rush. We’re going to New York this weekend. We will have time to discuss and to look at this problem from all angles, to analyze all aspects, to find good parts and the less good ones.”

“Yes but on the other hand I don’t want this to ruin our vacation!”

“It’s not ruining anything,” Bryan said decisively. “Your happiness and your comfort are the most important issue now,” he continued in the same voice.

“Thank you! You are a true friend;” Azade answered setting her heart at rest.

“I thank you!” Bryan replied. “You are a wonderful friend as well.”



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Published by dorin

Full time husband and father; full time writer; full time artist (#fineartphotography). And in the free time, I like to travel, to read and to learn new stuff.

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