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, 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. …


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. …


Kishinev, 1944

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

They met moments after Pavel Zetov was shot. Shaken and horrified, Galina Dafin would have left the Annex immediately, but one of the Nazi officers ordered her to return to her office and wait. She sat at her desk and closed her eyes.

When she opened them, a short man in a gray business suit was standing in the doorway watching her.

“Hello,” the short man said. “Mrs. Dafin, I apologize I intrude. I work for the German War Commissariat, and I’m here to audit your books. My name is Michael Suru. I…


Bucharest, 1944

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

“I’m lieutenant Vincent Smolin, with the Second Air Brigade.” The answer came on a confident tone. “Is Dalia home?”

Elea stepped aside to allow Vincent to enter. Elea’s son, Roland hid behind her, shyly scrutinizing the visitor’s uniform.

“Young warrior,” Vincent addressed the boy. “How would you like to become a pilot when you grow up?”

Roland looked at Vincent with his languid eyes. Vincent smiled, and followed Elea into the living room.

Dalia’s wet hair fell to her shoulders in soft curls. “Vincent!” she said, and gave him a hug, grateful to…


Bucharest, 1944

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

At the Matache Market Dalia found potatoes. She found a jar of honey, yellow as gold, and bread, white and fresh with a nice, heavy crust. She put everything in her string bag and started towards home at a leisurely pace. It was a sunny spring day. Turn of the century stone houses with shady fenced-in yards lined the streets. The lilacs were in bloom. People waited for the electric tram.

Sirens ripped through the air.

Dalia had never heard the air defense warning system before. She saw people running. Someone screamed: “Planes!”…


Câmpulung, 1937

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

As a teenager, Tina was shy and withdrawn. On summer Sundays, walking along Main Street, she looked up at the young women of Câmpulung who had finished school and were ready to start life on their own two feet. Her older sister, Larissa, went to Kishinev to study to become a paralegal. There she befriended Margarita, a rabbi’s daughter. “I love the small town atmosphere,” Margarita told Larissa. …


Kishinev, 1935

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

Galina left her desk and stood by the glass partition that separated her office from the repair shop below. In their stained coveralls, the mechanics were performing their duties. Whenever she was among them, they treated her with courteous respect, even if sometimes she got tangled up in their banter. The car repair shop was a man’s world but she needed a paycheck. A change — any change — would be welcome.

Just then, three men stumbled in from the street. They were not customers, and some of the mechanics laid down their…

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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