It is a cold September’s evening in Craiova, Romania. The year is 2008, the day slowly turning to dusk and then night. Some people are starting to get to bed. Not Ivor Kamarakov. He was going out for his daily run. Ivor has a hardened face, one that makes him look like a soldier, always prepared to fight. He has brown hair that he always cuts down to a buzz, and green eyes, like the leaf of an oak tree in the summer. Ivor is a strong man, big in size and muscle, but also strong in heart. Constantly putting other people before himself, he displayed a great sense of courage, compassion, and adventure, both on and off the battlefield. Before retirement, he was in the Romanian Armed Forces. He was, most recently, called in to Afghanistan, where he and his fellow Romanians attempted to help with the war. Their parts were small, but he was a big help with most of it. The one thing that set him apart from everyone else was that, even in the midst of a battle, he'd look around, see people shooting others, and would not fire back. Tens, sometimes hundreds would die, and he didn't want the war to change him. Even though his wife and all her friends believe that he has, he hasn't changed a bit- the same compassionate soul that he was when he left. In his spare time, which he has a lot of now that he’s out of the army, he researches Romanian history. When he’s done with that, he looks up US history, usually one man in particular- JFK. He has no other job, for he has enough money to live 4 lives and still pay the rent. His wife, Elisabeth or, as she prefers he call her, Elise, has long, blonde hair that she usually puts into a ponytail, brown eyes, like the bark of an oak tree. She’s very small, a foot and a half beneath her 6 foot 6 husband, making her look more like a child than a spouse. She has just started receiving her first wrinkles, mostly on her cheeks, but she still doesn’t bother to hide it with makeup. As previously stated, she is mostly scared of her husband when he came back from the war, she believed he would destroy her life, that the war affected him too much and he was now a crazed soul, out for killing. But, when she was pregnant with his child, she expected a beating, only to receive hugs, kisses, and crying. She also received boys baby clothes, a couple buckets of blue paint, and literally hundreds of boys names. Now, 8 months in, a baby right around the corner, she didn’t know what to do. She still didn’t trust Ivor, and she wanted the baby to have a safe place to live. She racked her brain all day… and finally thought of it.
That night, as Ivor returned from his daily walk at the park, he noticed his wife wasn’t on the couch reading (she usually did that at this time of day, while waiting for her husband) and searched for her. He looked all over his one floor house- the bedroom, the bathrooms (both connected to and not connected to their room), the basement and the attic, the closets, the small library where he researches history, in his living room and the kitchen next to it. He could not find Elise, and he didn’t find her car either. He immediately thought, ‘She’s at the hospital! She’s having the baby!’ and took off. But, upon arrival to the hospital, he didn’t see her car at the lot and, when asking the lady at the desk if a Kamarakov had checked in that evening, the reply was a quick, yet quiet, “No, sir. Sorry, sir.” He thought to himself where else she would be, and then he knew immediately- if she had planned to do something, she wouldn’t keep it to herself, she had to tell her friends. He went to her favorite place to gossip- Vladimir’s. Cârcium? Vladimir, Vladimir’s Pub, for the English, is a downtown pub that she and her friends go to on most weekends and some Tuesdays. While she couldn’t drink there (he told her not to, and requested to their management that they didn’t serve her while she was pregnant), she still went for two reasons- to see her friends from college and to listen to their gossip. When Ivor pulled up to a parking space adjacent to the pub, a smell of too much perfume and puke hit him right away. Above the stairway leading down to the pub, in bright blue neon lights, Cârcium? Vladimir shone in the night. He walked in, wearing a leather jacket and torn jeans, a sign he didn’t want to be talked to unless he spoke first. They got the hint. He walked up to the bar when he saw none of Elise’s friends were there and asked Vladimir, a skinny, bald Russian bartender that could’ve been 50, if his forehead wrinkles didn’t suggest otherwise, if he had seen Elise. “Yes, I did, Sergeant” he responded in his thick accent. “She left not too long ago, said she was going to her parents in Sibiu. Said she was running away from you. Why is she running away?” He slipped the bartender 500 Leus and thanked him. “I don’t know, Vladimir,” he replied before he turned to leave. “Only she knows what’s in her head.”
After Vladimir’s very helpful information, he gassed up his car and left for Sibiu. The drive, he hoped, would not be too long, but, before long, he grew tired and was starting to fall asleep at the road. Of course, it was at 2:00 in the morning, but he was determined. However, there was something that crossed his mind- he couldn’t find his wife if he was dead from a car crash. And, with fear of that happening, he began to look for a hotel. The town he stopped at (which, thankfully, was only 3 miles from where he decided to start looking) was called Turceni, and was very small. He found a hotel called the Stea Stralucitoare, or the Shining Star, and decided to sleep there for the night. It was not the best place he slept at, but he thought it accommodated well to him and, for only 322 Leus. In the morning, he asked the clerk if a woman by the name of Kamarakov checked in last night, to which a quick, yet quiet reply of “No, sir. Sorry, sir,” escaped his lips and he shuffled off. After food (he ate breakfast at the hotel, which was mamaliga), he set off once again to search for his wife. He was on the highway to Târgu Jiu, a big city that had a highway connecting to Sibiu. He made it to Târgu Jiu, and there was a lot of traffic. After about an hour, he got on and took the highway towards Sibiu. He figured he’d take the backwoods way, so that he could get there faster and find her faster. This decision, although it may have seemed only the smart thing to do at the time, changed his life in so many ways- this smart decision is the one thing that impacts this story, and his life, for the rest of his years.
It was about a half hour when he made the decision, but he finally saw it- a short, blue car, a little beat up, but still reliable, on the side of the road. It was the same make, model, and color of his wife’s car, and this is the reason he stopped. And, it seems God was with him that day, because, not only was that the same make and model as his wife’s car, but WAS his wife’s car- empty, save for some canned food. He immediately ran to his car and grabbed a flashlight, then lined up where the car was, finally marching forward, like they taught him back in the military. He wasn’t only doing this for his wife- she clearly showed she didn’t care enough for him. He was doing this for the baby, the child they promised would grow up in a safe world. “Elisabeth!” he cried, over and over again. “Elisabeth, darling! Where are you? What did I do to drive you to this state? Answer me, Elisabeth!” Just then, at that very moment, he saw it. A small, dark brown, old, abandoned cabin, with gaping holes in the walls and what looked to be a collapsed chimney. In fact, upon further inspection, it seemed as if the whole roof caved in…. There was this awful smell about the place, what seemed to be a combination of trench foot and rotting bodies. He should know- he’s encountered both. He decided to go in… walking slowly to the door that was off one of his hinges and fell over once he knocked on it. It smelled worse on the inside- more death and rotting things. “Elise, darling? Are you there?” He turned on his flashlight and scanned the room for any life whatsoever. He was right on the roof caving in- there was a massive hole in the ceiling, exposing sunlight on the rough, wooden floor. Then, in the far left corner of the shack, he saw what looked to be a woman, knees up against her chest.
“Elise, is that you?” Ivor slowly walked towards the short woman, long, blonde hair covering up her face. He already knew the answer- it was his wife, Elisabeth Kamarakov. “Elise, get up, sweetheart.” He tapped her on the shoulder- maybe she was asleep. No response. He thought of something awful, could feel the tears coming to his eyes- but it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be! “Elise, wake up, darling! Please!” Ivor was shaking her shoulders, now- Elise’s head bobbing up and down, but she wouldn’t wake up. She wasn’t a heavy sleeper, and there was no way that she…. “Elise! Please, sweetheart! Please, wake up! Elisabeth!” He had to do it- there was no other choice. With tears starting to come down his eyes, he finally put two fingers on her neck, like they taught him to do in the military, and checked for a pulse. 10 seconds. 20 seconds. 30, 40, 50. A minute passed. Not a single heartbeat. Elise… had died. Fresh tears started to fall from his cheeks to his boots. He cried for some time, then he eventually screamed. This couldn’t be happening- it was impossible! His life had been so perfect… he had done everything right! All he ever did was for those who he cared about- his mother and father, who had both perished. His beloved country, who forced him into retirement when he had wished to keep serving. And now… his wife and unborn child, who were now both dead. His life was over. He fought bravely, yet he lost his own war. He was about to head out the cabin in the woods, unable to comprehend what to do next, where his life would take him. But, one thing stopped him. A fresh scream followed up by crying. It sounded like a baby.
He quickly turned around and searched all over the cabin, and then, there it was. A baby, wrapped in blankets, next to his dead wife. Finally, he understood. His wife was going to have the baby- she felt it. She found the cabin and had it there, then died from childbirth. More tears streamed from his eyes- he had a child now. He was a father. Ivor picked the baby up, and, with one last look at his wife, hurried off back to his car. He wished his wife was still with him, but he couldn't take both the baby and her body yet. He hated doing it, but he would come back for her and give her a proper burial, she at least deserved that. When he got to the car, he quickly got in and placed the baby, still crying, on his lap. He started his car and headed to the nearest hospital, hoping nothing would go wrong, hoping that he would be given a second chance at life- one as a father, where he took care of his newborn child- a daughter, which he would name Olma Elise Kamarakov.