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About some things between relatives


Stana Apostolova

The ambulance arrived within less than twenty minutes, but the old lady was already gasping her last and the doctor, a thin man with a short mustache, did panic. Albena had joined him recently in the doctor’s duties. When she saw that his hands were trembling and he could not find the vein in the thin withered hand on the sick woman, she pushed him quite firmly and said:
– Dr. Sapundzhiev, please allow me, and you can diagnose.
She deftly jabbed the needle into the protruding vein on the wrist and slowly pushed the plunger of the plastic disposable syringe. The doctor had a great professional flair, the moment he looked at the patient he was ready to prepare the appropriate solution for injection.
Albena, or Alya, as she was called by her relatives, had gained the habit of doing this work under the direction and supervision of the emergency doctor. She had worked with almost all doctors in Emergency. But she could do that as well.
The woman came to her senses and her daughter, who had called the doctor, about sixty years old, with a heavy make-up, but without much success because the wrinkles on the face and neck were bulging even more, started to claim that they should take away the old woman to the hospital.
The nurse was not in the position to comment, so Alia stayed silent.
– Ma’am, you said that your mother is ninety-one. Her heart is barely beating. It is best to take care of her at home – Dr. Sapundzhiev mumbled as he left the house quickly.
Make woman ran after them, almost shouting:
– What do you mean, you want me to do nothing and let mom die, right?
As they were getting into the ambulance, the woman gesturing and flooded them with reproaches. The doctor went back, so that the young nurse can sit on comfortable place in the ambulance, next to the driver, but Alia did not take advantage of his chivalry and went with him. She could not tolerate the ambulance driver who constantly winked and spoke to her some indecent dirty hints.
They sat near the stretcher, which in this case was empty, and she asked:
– Doctor Sapundzhiev, why didn’t you say a few soothing words to the lady?
– Because the old woman will not make it till tomorrow morning. They stayed
silent. For several months they were together and she was sure he always knew when death was inevitable.
The shift was over, the doctor and the driver had left, but she was still hanging in the general room when the Roma gypsies literally rushed in. Alia specially rehearsed to call them Roma, because they got insulted if you addressed them as “gypsies”. Today at the front desk and on the phone the person on duty was nurse Atanasova. The doctor on duty had not arrived yet, and all the nurses and doctors on duty were out with the ambulances, visiting patients at their homes.
They came in with a man all beaten up, all in blood.
– The doctor is about to arrive any minute, sit down and wait – the nurse on duty reassured them, but she was rather anxiously peering into the hallway.
They began to threaten her and pounding on the glass counter.
– What is the man injured by? – Albena walked down the corridor.
The gypsies settled around her and started one over another to explain that he had brawled and he had got his head cracked.
– Come in the office .I’ll take him – she winked at his colleague. – Not all of you, just the sick man!

They became friends with nurse Violeta Atanasova – it happened after she helped her get rid of the gypsy angry mob. It turned out that Villi was thirty-seven years old, not married, just like her. Alia was thirty-three, she had an elder sister, seven years older than her and she has always lived in the shade of her sister. Her sister had two university degrees, working as a TV journalist in the capital and all the people knew about her. She was very purposeful and ambitious, having a solid character and constantly criticized her little sister. She wanted from her to star studying medicine and to set higher professional goals.
Their mother was a teacher of literature devoted to his calling. Much effort was devoted to her daughters, but she never hid her disappointment and bitterness of the choice of Albena to become a nurse. Only her father understood her, but he died two years ago of a heart attack. The three of them were still getting over from the biggest loss.
Alia was living by herself in her own studio in a remote quarter of the city. Her mother was alone in the big family apartment in the center and she found it very difficult to get used to the loneliness. Now, during the summer holidays she was constantly calling her on the phone. What made her most angry was when she forgot that her daughter had worked a night shift and insisted to wake her up I woke up until she picked up the phone. Tonight she also called
– What are you doing, Alya?
– I’m making my dinner.
– You have to hang out with friends in the evening. Christ’s age you turned, working on shifts among infections and ingratitude and not looking for a life partner!
– Mom, I’m fine, do not worry!
Her mother, however, throw a stream of criticisms and comments to her. Alia has never dared to object to them – her or her ambitious and successful elder sister. Finally, when he began to talk nineteen to the dozen that she should have children, she butt in and objected:
– Mom, Danny got divorced and has no children.
She did not dare, however, to say anything about Violeta. Villi, had moved to live with her and the two of them were currently preparing their medallions of zucchini. It turned out that nurse Atanasova was a vegetarian, just like her.
Violeta was raised in Karnobat. Her parents were still living there in a big house. They decided when they had days off to go there for a day visit. They took the passenger train. Alia had last enjoyed a railway transport a long time ago. The trip took them an hour.
They had a very enjoyable day. The house was huge, three floors, each representing was an extensive three-bedroom apartment. The parents of her colleague had built it dozens of years to have one floor for each child. Violeta had a brother, but he had settled in Spain, and she was living in Bourgas. Their mother and their father were living alone in the small town. They inhabited only the first floor. They greeted them warmly. They were very hospitable people.
In the afternoon, before catching the train back, they went out to have a piece of fruit cake in a small candy shop, located on the corner between the main street and a crossing. They sat outdoors at a table for two under the umbrella. She was enjoying the late summer, the company of her girlfriend, who could easily read her without words and she felt calm and in good spirits. Accidentally he turned and she saw her sister Daniela with a large man. They were walking hand in hand and did not see anything or anyone around him. Alia was so surprised that she could not react adequately.
– Villi, I guess saw Danny with a lover!
Violeta was told everything about her older sister, about her career, and her unfortunate marriage, followed by a painful divorce. Danny was always very apologetical that women who were devoted to work and even workaholic and who thought that occupational validation is everything, were not able to maintain patriarchal way of marriage.
– It is not possible, you have mistook her for someone else! What will a famous TV reporter do in Karnobat!
– I’m telling you, I saw her! They held hands as love pigeons!
Violeta reached out and grabbed the hands of Alia in hers.
– Don’t you like love pigeons?
They looked each other into the eyes. The two ladies had a completely different appearance. Alya – with blond curly hair and warm brown eyes like chocolate and Villas beady blue eyes and shiny black hair cut in a perfect line.
They were nurses who had looked too much of the suffering and death. They realize that life is short and they should not miss their chances.
Violeta left her lodgings. They were living in Alia’s one-room flat. It lacked space, but it was very comfortable. She informed her parents when they were visiting Karnobat. She also urged Alia to tell their relatives about it.
Finally it was time for Albena to visit his mother and had a conversation with her. He deliberately went to visit her about 9pm, to be able to leave quickly. She had a key. She unlocked and entered expecting to find the old literature teacher in front of the TV. But there was no one in the big apartment. She lit the lights in the living room, sat in an armchair and called on the phone.
– Mom, where are you? I’m in your apartment.
– At a restaurant I’ll be late, do not wait for me. You should have warned me and she hung up.
– Well – she was not sure whether her words were heard from the other side.
Alya worried all day how the conversation would happen, but she has never thought that she would not find her, and her mom would be out at a restaurant. Has she found an elderly gentleman to replace her father?
She felt herself again as a little girl who was loved and neglected at home by the relatives. She decided it was high time to show dignity in its relations with her two closest relatives. She rang her sister.
– Hey, will you be coming soon in Bourgas?
– Nope.
– I’m planning to go with a friend for a few days in Sofia. I hope you will take some time to see each other.
-I’m not in the capital – her sister did not began to edify as usual and Alia realized that since she saw her on the main street in Karnobat, they had not heard of each other.
– Are you in Karnobat?
After a long pause her elder sister asked:
– Who told you?
– I saw you, I was in Karnobat last week.
– What did you see? – The younger sister was silent, so the elder one continued – I quit my job, I freed my room in Sofia. Now I live with a man in a house with a yard.
– Have you moved in Karnobat? – She could not believe what he heard.
– No, a village, ten kilometers from Karnobat. Do not tell Mom. We will soon come and I will explain myself. See you soon.
Danny didn’t think of asking her about Alya, if there was anything new in her life. Even now, when she has ditched his great career in the capital and moved to the village she never even thought of listening to her. But at least he skipped the mandatory tirade of moralizing.
She rose from the chair, she turned off the lights and locked. She got back home by taxi. Violeta was waiting for her. She reassured her, flattered her and assured her that they have nowhere to rush. In one way or another their relatives would understand that they both love each other and live together.
They barely saved a fifty-year-old man. He had had a severe heart attack. They took him to cardiology and on their way back Doctor Sapundzhiev started a conversation.
– Nurse, you know that your mother was my class teacher in high school?
– Dr. Sapundzhiev, please I am not much into sentimental memories. In this city wherever you go, you will meet students of my mom.
– I’m forty-five years, and you’re a thirty-three, right?
– Yes! – He said with annoyance, but actually she was surprised that he was so well informed.
– When we were eighteen and graduated from secondary school, your mother was as old as you are now.
– But she has already had two children, and I haven’t, is that you are trying to say?
– Whether you have children or not, whether you are a lesbian and so, it is none of my business. But you’re right, it’s about you and your mother – he smiled and revealed a row of even white teeth under his mustache. She remembered that he has not seen him smile. – Nothing prevents you from having children if you want.
Alia blushed, she was so embarrassed that she began to behave quite inadequate.
– My sister is an adolescents’ baby, born in Sofia. Just seven years after that I was born, to coincide with her going to school in first grade.
– Stop – the doctor pulled his sleeve white coat and stumbled to her because the ambulance fell into the hole in the street. – I want to tell you something about your mother, just to be informed. Anton from our class was madly in love with her. Now he is a sea captain first rank, sailing under the English flag.
She pursed her lips contemptuously. Teenagers fell in love with their teachers, what was exactly with the doctor, maybe the tension to control the heart-attack case had its influence. He was totally nuts.
-It happens!
– When your father died, Anton got a divorce, they had children in fact. And now he is living with your mother. Several months now…
– Nonsense! My mother will soon turn sixty. And how can you know! So many years have passed!
– Anton’s been my friend for years! A few nights ago we went to the restaurant my wife and I and he with your mom.
The doctor leaned back, he said nothing more.
Her head ached. He suspected that there was something, but with a fifteen-year- younger man! Her mother had lost her mind! The doctor was a real eccentric and weirdo, but he was saving the lives of people and proved he knows much about it. She had felt that she was respected. It was because of her mother.
Her sister called just as she was telling Villi what she had learned from Doctor Sapundzhiev.
– Alia, Mom called me to invite me solemnly for lunch, on Saturday. She recommended I caught the night train. What happened? Have you told her anything?
– Our mother seems to have a new man in her life.
– Nonsense, you will never get over Dad!
– I am also invited on Saturday …
– I was going to come with Vasco, but now I doubt it – her elder sister as always could not care less about her.
– I’ll come with his girlfriend – Albena tried to sound emphatically.
– No, we will gather the three of us, alone. Next month it is two years since the death of my father. Mom will probably want to discuss the memorial service. Come on, see you soon! – And she hung up.
Alya started to cry. Again she feels insulted and ignored. But Violeta quickly reassured her. She was telling her that it was the way things go between relatives.

On Saturday at noon, the old teacher and her two daughters were sitting around the beautifully arranged table and discussing vegetarian dish, prepared by the hostess specifically for little daughter. There was also a “tandoori chicken”.
– Mom, let me start first – Alia felt relaxed. – My girlfriend Violeta came to live together in my studio. It turned out it was too small, so I released the one-room flat for sale, I’ll buy a bigger apartment.
After the initial surprise, her sister Daniela began:
– I can offer my studio for sale, Alia will buy a bigger house and this family flat downtown, one day will be left to my children – she puffed up, straightened, although there was little effect because she was thin and had a small bust. – I’m pregnant.
Albena was just about to protest again about neglecting the fact that she had gotten an intimate friend, but the last sentence took her by surprise.
– That’s great! – Their mother began to ejaculate. – I thought that Alia first will give me grandchildren, you вере still chasing а career, you got a divorce … – and after a moment of hesitation, she added: – Did you go through an in vitro procedure?
– No, Mom, I quit my job in Sofia. I live with a man, a winemaker and winegrower, his name is Vasil. We do planning a wedding at Christmas.
– Is not this a hasty decision?
– Mom, my sister is forty years old. She’s got the bird of happiness at the last moment – Alya enjoyed.
– No, girls! The bird of Happiness landed on my shoulder at the last moment. We got together with one of my students, his name is Anton. I will move into his apartment, so I called you to tell you the news. Alia could come and live with her friend here, and to let the two studios, which your father built for you
– Mom, what kind of student are you talking about!? – Her sister was already standing upright.
– Anton captain bunkers and he is fifteen years younger than me.
– Mom, are you interested in some pedophilic action – Daniela continued.
– What d’you mean? He is forty-five, mature man. Even his hair is whiter than mine.
– Mom, I do not mind, but you moving out and start living with him, isn’t it too much?- Alia stood up and hugged her pale mother.
– I will move, because he feels insecure, and he is on a sail next month.
– So it is really serious!
The elder sister sat down and started to eat from the chicken. Since she was pregnant, she was constantly hungry.
Alia was crying, their mother was also wiping her tears.
While chewing with her mouth full, Dani said:
– I would also weep with you, but I should keep the baby safe. I should not worry too much for no reason.
– That’s how things go between relatives, especially between the nearest – Alia said.
They laughed. “When you’re happy, you can forgive.” – She thought and she felt grown-up for the first time.

Translator Yancho Kudev