A fiction story based on real events. Enjoy your reading!
|It was a lively warm morning in July 2010. Ana was driving on the highway, feeling energized by a torrent of speed and reviving emotions. She left behind the Austrian border heading towards her native country. It was almost surreal, after what seemed a lifetime to go back there, and to meet him, exactly him who once meant everything to her. She was relieved that he was alive. He was a medical officer in Timisoara. Why she had to find him now, after such a long time? Was a new farce of a vicious destiny?
After a few hours’ drive, the highway ended in a thin and dusty rural road. She reduced the speed to a minimum and then stopped short, letting a group of ducks cross the road. She laughed as she saw the adults slowly and carelessly move, and then, the little fluffy yellow-dark ducklings walking behind them, trying to keep up the pace with the group. She continued to drive, passed the Romanian borders, and finally saw the silhouette of her old city soaring on the distant horizon. Her heart was beating faster. A few pearls of sweat fell softly over her beautiful face. Memories were dancing in front of her ̶ she was shivering. Late in the night at the hotel, entirely exhausted after eighteen hours’ drive she fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, refreshed after a good sleep, she took a long walk through the town centre. She stopped in front of the white Opera House.
The old building seemed to be the tenor of the piazza ̶ a tenor chanting silently an endless song of joy and pain. From the opposite side, the majestic Cathedral felt to be the angel, the soul of the city.
The centre was filled with the magic of history combined with a modern ambiance. The soft yellow and white buildings ̶ designed in a Habsburg architectural style ̶ became pale and old over time, but their distinct elegant character remained untouched. In the middle of the place, the legendary column of the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus rose to the sky. It was the symbol of fraternity between ancient Rome and Timisoara. At opposite sides of the piazza, new Lavazza terraces, luxurious restaurants, and the Gucci and Armani boutiques were uniting the past with the present in a pleasant tangible atmosphere.
Ana closed her eyes for a few moments and reminisced about the old days, about the time when she was a young girl. For a few moments, she became a spectator visioning a parade of memories. She saw her father holding her small hand when walking to the cake shop, and then, the photographer who took photos of them. She saw herself as a child, praying and crying in the cathedral and asking God for help in difficult times. Then she saw him, Adrian, holding her hand and accompanying her after school on the way home. ‘Oh, Adrian!’ She will meet him shortly.
She drove to the periphery of the city and parked in front of the military clinic. The small building appeared to be like a home, yellow painted and with a terracotta roof. A colourful garden with fresh blossomed orange, white and red roses moving tender in the wind, was spreading an entrancing healing fragrance in the air.
She looked at the entrance. He was there, waiting for her. After 20 years, he had the same attractiveness ̶ an athletic body, dark brown eyes, and middle short brown hair. She stepped out of the car and took a deep breath while he approached her smiling and with open arms. She had to rise on her tiptoes when he embraced her fervently and with a remarkable gentleness pressed his lips to her cheek. A little bird on the fence was the only witness of those unique secret moments.
“I want to conserve this moment for the eternity,” he whispered. She looked deep into his brown eyes and felt enchanted.
“Hello, my precious friend,” she whispered back.
The deep romantic mood changed into an avalanche of euphoria. He lifted and rotated her in the air and then gently lowered her to the ground and pressed her close to his chest. ‘His energy feels so powerful, intense, and warm,’ she thought. Despite the emotionality of the moment, Adrian was emanating an impressionable confidence. He took her hand and walked down the road.
“I want to show you a special place,” he said.
They went down the road to a traditional restaurant. It was the perfect return to the Romanian traditions, to the suave tones of popular music and to the irresistible sarmale ̶ an art of minced meat with aromatic herbs rolled in cabbage leaves. They savored a red wine and talked about their lives. They reminisced about the old days, at a time when they were teenagers when they believed in miracles and their invincibility. Then, they laughed loudly and fervently about school misadventures.
“Do you remember the time after our high school?” he said. “I was doing my service in the Amy.” A grave expression appeared on his face. Her face became pale.
“Yes, sometimes I think about that day when the revolution started: it changed our destiny,” she said with a heavy voice.
“We were all there, in the crowd next to the Cathedral. I did not see you. The soldiers started shooting from the opposite side. At our side was quiet, although I saw the guns placed towards us. We ran and ran for our lives, but the others remained there, chanting Freedom, Freedom. No communism.”
He looked deep into her eyes. A shadow spread gradually over his face – obviously, a deep pain suppressed over the years came on the surface.
“I was there, dear Ana, but not on your side: I was on the Army side, I was a soldier.”
A heavy silence fell between them. She was shocked.
“No, that is impossible! Noooo, that is too cruel!” her heart yelled. She started to shiver.
“I was one of them, one who held the gun towards the crowd,” he continued after a while. “I saw you there. Behind me was an officer. I heard his voice screaming: “Shoot, shoot down the crowd.” Those were the heaviest moments of my life: I had to decide between my life and your life.” He was silent.
“At that moment, I was thinking how my life would be if I had to kill someone you love.” Her heart stopped to beat for a moment. Despite his words, she was confused, angry, hurt. ‘He was a soldier at that time, being forced to shoot his friends and family? Impossible, how could be?’ she thought.
“I decided for your life,” he continued. “I was waiting for the officer to kill me for unexecuting his order but somehow it did not happen - he left. The next moments were chaotic: I saw people running desperately in all directions. A gunfire started from another side. I saw you running out of the crowd and I was relieved. A few hours later, the whole city was on fire, and the next days the country was liberated. Then, you left, somebody told me.”
They were silent for a long time as if they wanted to conserve the moments and their feelings for eternity. The music was playing in the background and the sun was going down. Late in the night, they left each other with heavy hearts. But their love didn’t leave, it was there, like a dormant volcano, sometimes burning their souls with the fire of fulminant memories. Their destinies seemed to be created from an invisible force, a force that obviously didn’t care too much about feelings or dreams. Their life paths were preconceived a long time ago when a revolution drastically changed the destiny of a country and its people.