Kishinev 1933

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

The adult world was inexplicable. Things happened because they did, and Dalia tended to look the other way and keep playing. But when her mother cried, she cried also. She had milk white skin, dark hair and large, green eyes that Uncle Leo said reflected an intelligent curiosity.

In school, without her mother, Dalia felt unencumbered. She accepted the rigid school discipline, smiled at her teachers, befriended the children in her class and became an expert in hopscotch, peekaboo and rope jumping. She was slim and quick on her feet, rarely harboring a…


As the world groaned under the weight and horror of the pandemic, forcing so many of us to shelter at home, the writer in me rejoiced in the silence and the imposed isolation.

I finally completed the two massive, expansive novels I had been working on for the last few years, The Last Patient and Tina. They represent the fictionalized story of my wife’s and my family. Both novels stand on their own, while the endings are somewhat intertwined. …


Bucharest, 1955

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

Stairs

In fifth grade, many of Roland’s old classmates went to a different school and all he wanted was to make new friends. Boci was tall, loud, and vying for attention. A natural leader, Roland thought. Staying close to him was useful, even though Tibby stuck to him like a shadow.

Boci’s first name was Luca, and his last name was Bobocel, which meant flower bud in Romanian and seemed comical in its implied delicacy given the boy’s physical stature. …


Bistrița, 1955

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

The night train huffed and puffed as they crossed the mountains. Virgil was alone in the corridor. He had not visited his parents in years. He remembered his parents’ apartment in Bistrița: the quaint kitchen, the big room where they ate their meals, the bedroom and Viktor’s room, narrow and always dark, connecting the main room and the kitchen. …


Bistrița 1954

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

Their train was leaving Bucharest at 9 in the evening and arriving eight hours later in the hamlet of Sărățel, where Galina and little Andy had to catch a commuter train to Bistrița. Galina appreciated the alleged benefits of the vacation, but she dreaded the idea of changing trains at five in the morning with a sleepy four-year-old, two suitcases, her purse and a heavy tote with snacks and the water bottle.

Andy’s parents saw them off at the North Railway Station, loaded their luggage into their first-class compartment, kissed and hugged both…


Eforie 1954

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

“The nudists,” Virgil said.

Dr. Zaharia nodded.

“It’s actually a spa,” Virgil said, not clear for whose benefit. “The mud from the sound is believed to have medicinal benefits, and people cover their bodies in it and lay naked on the beach. I’ll give it to you, it looks unusual.”

“I would say it looks sexy,” Dr. Zaharia said.

“Nanu, how long has it been since you’ve seen your wife?” Virgil asked Dr. Zaharia.

The man laughed. “It’s not that,” he said.

“Then what is it?”

“Beautiful female bodies. That’s it.”

Virgil nodded…


Eforie 1954

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

Nine years after World War Two and seven years after regime change, life in the Popular Republic of Romania was slowly taking a new and clear direction. But there were lingering doubts. People who had disappeared during the war remained unaccounted for and arrests during the political purges led to fear and caused tragic family break-ups. …


Bucharest, 1952

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

After five years of communism, life was full of hardship, but Dr. Virgil Bardu wasn’t complaining. Proudly stepping into his prime, he was assuming full accountability for his career and the people around him. His new role as ward supervisor at a premier Bucharest hospital was satisfying and he diligently worked the necessary long hours. He and his lovely wife, Dalia, his one-year-old son, and his mother-in-law who was helping with the baby and the chores, had just moved into a larger apartment. His childhood friends, Eugene and Igor, had recently married, and…


Bucharest, 1952

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

That winter Katia succumbed to her dreadful disease. She did not know she had cancer until her last days, when, somehow, she figured it out. Before, her questions to Galina expressed a heart-breaking ignorance of her condition: what’s wrong with me, child, what’s wrong? What monster is eating at my body and why do I ache? The doctors insisted that not knowing was better, and perhaps they were right. Hope had kept her alive. Amid pain and confusion, one stubborn idea, more than any others, sustained her. She was longing for Alexey, who…


Kishinev, 1944

From A Family Album: https://alexduvan.medium.com/a-family-album-40829e212764

“I apologize. Mrs. Dafin, let’s get back to work.”

“Call me Galina,” she said.

Later, they went for a walk. It was her idea. The day was getting warmer, and they passed the bombed Topaz Factory and then walked along deserted alleyways in Alunelu Park, where budding trees and shrubs were vanquishing the effects of winter and war. They spoke little and of insignificant things, yet Galina felt as if a curtain had been lifted and she had had a glimpse into the depth of his pained soul. …

Alex Duvan

Under the pen name Tudor Alexander I have written and published five novels and one collection of short stories. Please visit www.tudoralexander.com.

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