First Steps (39)

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.


When the women saw Maha being dragged out of Ahad’s hut and taken away from their sight, somewhere where not even her cries could be heard, they began to lament and to mourn.

Azade was watching the horizon, hoping for a miracle that did not occur. The two men returned to the camp laughing. One of them glanced grimly at her, and made a gesture that made her blood froze. She knew the inevitable had happened, she knew that it would happen, that is why she had tried to stop her, but Maha didn’t want to listen, and now she paid with her life. She thought that she could save them, sacrificing herself, but it was all for nothing. Azade knew that does not work with Ahad, she had started to understand his chaotic way of reasoning, because she had thought a lot about the foundation of his actions. She had hoped that he still had a bit of kindness left in his desolate soul, but after she convinced herself that he didn’t, she gave up searching for it.

Their only chance to end the ordeal, she had started thinking about it after she and Saadiya were tortured, and now, after what happened to Maha, she was convinced, would be to defy Ahad as he had never been provoked before.

She tried to open her mouth, she needed her voice as fast as possible, but all she could get was a pain that stabbed her entire mouth up to her brain. The pain made her cry and those tears mixed with those mourning for Maha, another innocent victim of the evil inside human beings.


Dr. Abrecht fought with all her strength for every cell, with an invisible enemy, which consumed Cezara piece by piece. Every centimeter of skin saved was a won battle. But it was tough, because the young woman could not help her anymore, fighting by her side. To help her organism, Dr. Abrecht decided to induce a coma. If she would have had a solution to give Cezara a sleep with sweet dreams, she would have given it long ago. But, after all her trauma, she hoped that at least her memories would not turn into nightmares.

She impelled Maria who stood in the adjacent ward to read her favorite novels, to only tell her cheerful things, to sing her favorite songs on the microphone connected to the two speakers in the sterile ward.

“Hearing you is good for her,” said Dr. Abrecht, “even though she cannot answer, be sure that she is fighting with all her strength, otherwise she would have died a long time ago. It is very important to create an optimistic mood for her. There are difficult times ahead and if we want to save her, we have to do it with all our strength. Whenever you want, you can play the music she likes, the one that you want. You can play it from your phone, or from your laptop, you don’t necessarily need a music CD, it is the latest generation system, it can play any format. But,” she insisted, “be careful what you chose, don’t let it be a song that resembles those that were played in the club, or that might remind her of those moments. It was rock music, am I right?”

“Yes,” Maria answered.

“Then, stay away from rock, if she likes classical music, and she has a favorite composer, or several, then I think this would be the best choice. You cannot go wrong with classical music!”

“Oh yes, she likes Albinoni a lot. Brahms too.”

“Brahms is even better; Hungarian Dances are dynamic and cheerful. Of course, Albinoni is good too, it is such relaxing music, I am, of course thinking of Adagio.”

“Thank you for your suggestion,” said Maria.

Maria didn’t know how to thank the doctor for how much she was doing for Cezara, she saw how much passion she had invested in saving her. She thought that that was how she behaved with every one of her patients, which made her respect and love her more.

And for Ana, who was so kind, she had only good feelings and positive thoughts. Ana came each day to check on Cezara’s condition and to see how Maria was, and she brought her all sort of goodies. Twice she managed to convince Maria, it wasn’t easy that is for sure, as she wanted to stay by her friend, by her lover, her life partner, to get out of the hospital and to go for a walk with her.

“She is stable,” Ana told her in a convincing voice. “It is good for you too to get out a little. The mountain air will cheer you up, and you will come and tell Cezara what beautiful things she will see, when she will get well!”

This argument convinced her!

“Alright, but only for fifteen minutes, not more,” she accepted the first time.

But Maria couldn’t really enjoy the view, she stood with her eyes on her watch and with her mind in the hospital. Ana could understand her. Then she encouraged her. She felt more connected to her; she was impressed of how dedicated she was to her friend.

“Let’s go back,” said Maria, “it’s time.”

Ana hugged her fondly and then she led her back to the hospital.

The second time Maria stayed out for half an hour, but this time she wanted to see more, to be able to tell Cezara everything afterwards. Last time she thought that her face wasn’t as tense as when she told her about the house with bells and the mountains around. She was telling her, in fact, each day, she would remind her about the wonderful days they spent together, about the parties where they would laugh together, about the pool where they swam together each week, about the nights the made love…

“And there are many more to come! She told her. I know it is difficult for you now, but you have to listen to me, and not to give up!”


No matter how much he plucked up his spirits before entering the room, Bryan knew that he wasn’t called here for nothing. Colonel Adam was standing, whispering with another officer, whom Bryan did not know.

“Come in, doctor, come in,” the colonel invited him.

“Thank you, sir,” Bryan answered.

“Bryan, this is major Hoskins.”

The major greeted him in a military manner, then he shook Bryan’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” said Bryan.

“Son,” started the colonel, “I am afraid that we have bad news.”

They all knew about Bryan and Azade’s long distance love story, because ever since Azade had gone back to Duhok, Bryan had asked repeatedly to be sent to Iraq as well, but each time he was promised that they would try, but no one could know for sure where he was going to be sent, because these decisions are taken at high level.

“Yes?” Bryan asked a little stressed.

“You will be detached to Germany, at our basis in Ramstein. At least initially. We insisted at General Headquarters for you, but things aren’t that simple. They don’t send people based on requests, as you know very well, they send them where they are needed, as they are needed. Then, protecting our people is also an issue, therefore you couldn’t have been sent straight to Iraq without previous training.”

Bryan tried to protest.

“But before you say anything, I have good news as well. We were insured, believe me, by a reliable source, that after a month, maximum two of staying in Germany, you will get where you want to go.”

 Bryan’s face lit up.

“Thank you, colonel!”

He shook his hand vigorously. Then he did the same with the major’s.

“I don’t know how to thank you!” he added, before being dismissed.

After Bryan left the room, Colonel Adam said to major Hoskins.

“Never before have I seen someone, another doctor, so happy to learn that he was going to be detached to Iraq,” he laughed. “They all fear it like hell, and I think that is natural. But, look, someone is finally happy about it.”


Ioan called Amanda, as soon as he landed in Vienna.

“I arrived safely,” he told her.

“I am happy,” she answered. “And, I am also happy you called…”

“So am I, I liked spending time with you again, I had forgotten how good it feels.”

“Yes, that is right, but you should have thought about it before leaving me.”

“Yes, I am sorry, believe me.”

“Anyway, I am happy you called!”

“So am I, for hearing you. How are you?”

“Better. I will try to work on something; I am behind with my translations. Life goes on… The show must go on!”

“That is right. I keep my fingers crossed for you!”

“Thank you. Kisses.”

“For you too, bye!”

Amanda went back to translating and started crying. When a character suffered, she would cry with it. When one was happy, Amanda cried with happiness. Work was good for her, but crying was even better. And then, the hope brought by the new government that replaced the corrupt one, led by the former prime-minister, investigated and, she hoped, soon to be convicted.

After a while, she gave up watching TV. Especially the news. It made her feel sad, sadder and sadder. Instead she called Maria daily, who was telling her how Cezara was. They tried to stay optimistic the entire time, they felt that their optimism could be transmitted to Cezara, and that their hope will get through and will help her deal with this difficult period.

Amanda did not want to turn in to depression, she knew she was optimistic by nature, no matter how difficult life would get. But depression was prowling, and the fact that Amanda had retired to work and was only spending time with the characters of the stories she translated, not with real friends, was no good.



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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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