Dear readers, tonight we listen in while the protagonist – Anna, a young factory worker – is having tea with her husband’s aunt, Oxsana. All she wanted was a quiet cup of tea, but an unexpected encounter blooms into new-found love that changes her life.
OXSANA: (sitting down opposite Anna and pouring a cup of tea.) Oh, Anna—I’ve been wanting to do this ever since Boris first told me you were the one for him. I feel that I don’t know you at all, really. Could you tell me a little about yourself?
ANNA: (dipping a cookie into her tea) Well, I was born here in Dor. You knew that, right? I wish I could remember it when it was beautiful.
OXSANA: You don’t remember anything from before the war?
ANNA: My very first memory is of Mama making me lie down in the bathtub and pushing a mattress over the top. Because of the rockets. It was dark, and the tub was icy cold. I was so scared—too scared to cry, even. Ilya and Bogdan and Radoslav hid under their beds, but Mama didn’t trust me to stay put!
OXSANA: She wanted you safe.
ANNA: Of course. (Pours herself more tea.) That makes it sound like I had a horrible childhood, but I didn’t. Our house had a big, beautiful back garden, and my brothers and I were always kicking a football around it, or climbing the apple tree and getting onto the roof of the neighbors’ shed.
OXSANA: Well, I’m sure having so many older brothers made things interesting.
ANNA: (laughing) Oh, yes! I was a tomboy growing up—Mama didn’t know what to do with me. I did have a doll , named Ilona after the great-aunt who gave her to me, but as any girl with only brothers can tell you, all the really fun games don’t involve dolls.
OXSANA: It won’t be long now before you’re a mother yourself. I suppose you’re glad you’re having a boy?
ANNA: (laughing again) Yes. Boris was hoping for a boy. He’d like to call him Alexander—if that’s all right with you. We were going to ask…
OXSANA: (sits quiet for a minute) I’d be honored. (She looks up from her tea glass.) You know, what I’ve really wanted to ask you all this time is, what made you pick Boris? Of course, I think he’s a fine young man, but then, I’m his aunt. And your first meeting wasn’t…ideal. What did you think when you first met him?
ANNA: Honestly, so much has happened since then, I’m not quite sure that I could give you a true first impression now, because so many memories are layered over it. But I can tell you the moment when I knew he was the one for me. It was when we were getting into the car outside the prison, just after he’d let Taj go. Boris watched him walk off, then he put his face in his hands and cried. And I thought, “He’s the bravest man I know.”
OXSANA: That night was an adventure indeed! It still makes me cold to think about it. What was it really like, driving down to the prison, driving right through the fighting line—
ANNA: It was awful. (Pops a cookie into her mouth.)
OXSANA: Was it the most frightening thing that’s ever happened to you?
ANNA: Yes, I suppose so. (She is silent for a minute.) But I’d rather drive to Riverside Prison through all those militia checkpoints ten times than try to raise my son here in Dor. My little Sasha…he shouldn’t have to know what a bomb going off sounds like. No child should.
OXSANA: (sighs) Well, that was the question I was a little afraid to ask. You and Boris are leaving, aren’t you? Moving away?
ANNA: I hate what this war has done to our city, and to our family—and to me. I can say things are all right, and in a way they are. I have a comfortable house and a husband who adores me. We’ll soon have enough money to pay the fine for employing Arjun and open the cafe again. But we’re not all right. I can’t live this way anymore. The hatred in this city makes it hard to breathe. I don’t understand how people can just go on about their lives in a place where so much blood has been spilled. I need something better for my child.
OXSANA: I think—I think I knew you felt that way. But what about Boris?
ANNA: Well, if you must know, the one thing I hate about Boris is, he just doesn’t know when to quit. He’s been warned by the authorities, had his cafe shut down twice, had employees roughed up by the police…and he just won’t give up. Can you love and hate a person for the same reason?
OXSANA: (laughing) Oh, yes.
E.B. Roshan has enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for several years, living in the Middle East and Asia, but is now temporarily settled in Missouri with her husband and two sons. When she’s not cleaning, cooking or chasing after the boys, she’s writing the latest installment of her ongoing Romantic Suspense series, Shards of Sevia.
You can find Anna on the pages of Wrong Place, Right Time.
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