Liberty

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic


LIBERTY

It was a sunny winter afternoon in Timisoara, the beautiful old city imprisoned for over forty years by a harsh communist regime. Lena was walking downtown, thinking of Dan. Although they had been friends since their childhood, lately she noticed that something had changed their friendship has become warmed with feelings. She was going to see him at the usual place, at the piazza, where they would be drinking lemonade, listening to music and laughing about silly jokes. From afar, she could see the Opera and the majestic Cathedral, they looked like two giants, a tenor and an angel protecting the place all the time, she thought. She could also discern the shapes of the colourful old buildings designed in Habsburg style that marked the piazza, the vivid memories of foreign cultures that passed across Romanian’s history. A beautify city, she sighted.

As Lena was looking down the street, suddenly, a rough loud voice broke the silence:

“Hey, you!” The cold sun rays almost blinded her, as she looked up and saw a tall man in a green uniform.

“Stop, don’t step forward! Go back home!”

“I just want to meet my friend in the city,” she mumbled shivering a little.

“Go back home!” he shouted again, reaching for his gun. What an angry man, she thought while she left the place. She was used to seeing soldiers, but usually nobody would stop her on her way to the downtown. She turned back and took another route to reach the centre. The piazza was a buzz with people; it was unusually full and alive for a cold winter afternoon. Lena sighted Dan in front of the Loyt Café’ and rushed to him.

“What is going on? I have never seen so many people here,” she gasped.

“I don’t know, Lena,” replied the young attractive man with a charismatic smile. Dan embraced her tender, kissing her cold nose and her red cheeks. “Lena, I missed you,” he whispered, tucking her brown hair behind her ears. She blushed and smiled, after looking at him. For a few moments, she lost herself in his eyes, in his inner world where she always felt at home.

“Let’s walk to the Cathedral” he said, and gently took her by hand.

They had to push themselves through the crowd, as they went to the other side. It was scary and exciting to see so many people at the piazza. Some of them were calling out loudly “Freedom! Freedom,” others were looking around stunned. The people’s voices became louder. It was a unique energy that gradually rose over the place, an energy of an awoken spirit. Lena and Dan forgot about their chats and weekend plans; they felt that something much more important would happen. Energized from the crowd, they started to sing with the others:

“Liberty, Liberty, we want to be free!” In the afternoon sun, a bunch of children were running, giggling and playing on the large yellow-white marble steps of the majestic cathedral. Lena tightened her shawl around her shoulders and closed her jacket. She felt cold and was frightened, as she knew that any manifestation against communism was forbidden. The voices grew louder and louder, “Freedom, Freedom, no Communism,” spreading into the air their vivacious enthusiastic energy. A few white pigeons were circling over the place as though nothing was happening. One hour passed, as the vibrant atmosphere was broken by a man’s harsh voice. He was yelling from within the crowd:

“They surrounded us! They surrounded us!” The people looked frightened. Indeed, around them they saw the soldiers; their guns were directed towards the crowd.

“Leave the place! That is an order!” echoed a strong voice through a loudspeaker. Obviously, he was an Army commandant. “Leave the place. We start the fire!” The people were moving around, speaking loudly with each other. Some of them were angry, others were scared, some of them were embracing their children, others were praying, but nobody left. They knew that there was no other way to stop the burden of their miserable life, a life devoid of human rights, of any sense of liberty. They remained there. The next moments were quiet, conquered by a strange pressing silence.

“Mama, let’s go home” a child’s crying voice resonated from the crowd. The air was cold and thick, carrying people’s warm breath, their tension, and their dreams.

After a while, a horrifying loudness broke out from both sides of the piazza. The people started to scream and run in all directions, a few children were yelling. Merciless, the soldiers shot into the crowd. In a hitch move, Dan took Lena’s hand and ran towards the Cathedral’s doors. While slamming into the people and trying to escape, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest. He felt hot, dizzy, breathless. His chest was wet with blood as he grasped that a bullet hit him. “Run, run my love,” he said in a heavy gasp while looking at Lena. Yelling frenetically, Lena tried to catch him, but it was too late. He fell on the cold pavement.

“Daaan,” she screamed desperately while kissing his face. He didn’t answer. A stream of blood flew from his mouth. As he died, his blue eyes blurred with fear.

“Gooood help me. Daaaan, don’t let me be alone!” Lena looked around squished by the claws of horrific scenes. More people were falling to the floor, some of them screaming inpain, others were falling and dying, without saying a word. They were dying to be free. The bullets continued to cut the air. People were frenetically storming into the near buildings. Lena remained with Dan until late into the night when someone took her away. She was numb of cold and pain. Throughout the night, the people stayed awake, mourning and awaiting the verdict of their lives. They couldn’t win, they had nothing to fight with, they had nothing other than words. The next morning, the dictator Ceausescu ordered his Army to shatter the city into a field of ashes. But somehow it didn’t happen. While other cities stood up to the fight, the army changed sides and captured the dictator. They had liberated the country and after 43 years Romanians became free again.

Like many others, Lena left the country to see the world, a world that she knew only from her books. For the first time, she could breathe the fresh air of liberty. At the beginning, it felt painful to travel and see all the good things alone, without him. In the night, sometimes she could hear his whisper, “Lena, I miss you,” and, crushed in pain she was crying until the morning. But in time her soul healed. Only the vivid memories remained, the memories of the Romanian revolution, when people changed their country’s fate, when they sacrificed their life so that others could be free.

Exegesis

The short story “Liberty” was created from the vivid memories of those days that still haunt my inner world like a faithful ghost - the Romanian Revolution of December 1989. The story is dedicated to Dan, our friend who died on the streets of that tumultuous time. Today, we, the survivors, are living in foreign countries enjoying the fresh air of liberty, but none of us will ever forget those days and the people who died that others could be free.


Submitted: December 17, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Anisoara Laura Mustetiu. All rights reserved.

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