Striking With Fire

Submitted into Contest #45 in response to: Write a story about community.... view prompt



Right after the revolution in Romania, the world had been turned upside down. Everything had to change, and it was downright hard on the Romanians. Romania had been Communist, and the were changing to Democracy. It was effecting everyone in some way. It was downright hard to change from Communism Democracy, but it had been so bad under Communism that the people were determined to change. Change is never easy, and change was a nightmare for many Romanians. Life was so hard right after the revolution that the people were calling themselves, "the sacrifice generation." There were so many changes within the country.

On television, I saw a news story of a man from the west buying a factory in Romania. After all, the money from the west went a long way in the Romanian economy, and people from the west were investing in Romania. However, the Romanians really didn't understand the new Democracy. Living under Communism was the only thing they knew. They were learning. At this factory, the people were unhappy with how things were going and decided to go on strike. The man from the west wasn't going to give in to their demands. He fired everyone in the factory and went about hiring new workers who would adhere to the rules he set down in the factory. The television news had put the story out there for everyone to see. At the end of the story, there were big red letters stamped across the picture. The picture said boldly, "A Lesson in Democracy." Life wasn't easy for the Romanian wanting Democracy, but they were demanding Democracy, and they had to move forward.

I am going to tell you the story of one young man who went through fire to make things work out for himself and his family. He was poor and uneducated. He was learning about Democracy the hard way. It might have been better except for the greed of man. You see, the salaries were extremely low. The people with very good jobs only made about the equivalent of $100 dollars a month, people like doctors and lawyers. However, the price of homes had sky rocketed! They were asking the same price for homes in Romania as you would ask for them in the west. Just a small two room apartment in town would be $30,000, and no Romanian had $30,000. If they wanted a house in America but didn't have the money, they would just go to the bank, and if they people had good steady jobs and demonstrated they could make payments, they could live in the apartment and make payments. However, the Romanian banks weren't giving loans. The Romanian people didn't even know what a mortgage was. They had no inkling of the idea of borrowing money from a bank. The system was new, and no one understood how to function in it.

There was a young couple. They had grown up in one of Romania's orphanages. Their lives had not been easy. If you know anything about Romania's orphanages, the children were abused, neglected, and starved. The church in America had sent us blue jeans, tooth brushes and tooth paste, and vitamins to take to the orphanages, and we did. However, the Romanians advised us not to give the kids more than one pair of blue jeans or one toothbrush. They said anything the child wasn't wearing or personally using like one toothbrush, the people who ran the orphanages would take away and sell to have money for themselves. I knew a young man who had grown up in an orphanage and they had hit him upside the head so hard so many times that he had lost his hearing in one of this ears. I met a child who lived in a sewer in the park one day. I tried to convince him to go to the orphanage with me, and he refused. If I ever mentioned the orphanage, he ran. He would rather live in a sewer than in an orphanage. At eighteen years old, this young couple was turned out of the orphanage without an education and without jobs. They didn't know what to do or where to go.

 You see, before the Romanian revolution, everyone automatically had a job and a salary that came with it. Before the revolution, if a young couple got married, the Romanian government gave them an apartment free of charge. After the revolution, they weren't giving apartments or jobs away anymore. However, if a young couple got married after the revolution, they either lived with their parents or their parents supplied them with another house or apartment. This young couple had no parents to help them. They didn't even have guidance of an older figure. They had to figure it out all on their own.

They got jobs, but the salaries were so low that they couldn't afford a place to live. The took up residence under a bridge. It wasn't a house, but at least it was out of the rain. However, Romania is a very cold country, and they weren't actually out of the weather. Romania gets so cold in winter that when I used to go to the market early in the morning in the winter, I wore three pairs of socks under my snow boots, and my feet might still get cold. It was too cold to be living under a bridge. The wife got pregnant. The husband knew they didn't need to be out in the elements, especially with her pregnant. He was getting desperate. He decided the government was just going to have to take care of them. 

He went to the mayor of the town and petitioned for an apartment. The mayor threw him out of his office. The young man knew he couldn't take "no" for an answer, so he went back day after day asking the mayor for an apartment. He was getting more than desperate. He was going to have to force the issue. He finally told the mayor that if he didn't give him an apartment he would set himself on fire. The mayor ignored him.

The next day, the young man showed up again at the mayor's office. He said, "Give me an apartment or I am going to set myself on fire!" The mayor had him escorted out of his office and shut the door. The young man had brought a can of gasoline and some matches. He grabbed the can of gasoline and doused himself with gasoline and lit a match. He went up in flames! 

The people around him scrambled and got the fire out. They took him to the hospital where he was healing. His wife came and sat with him at the hospital. At least they weren't outside, but when he was healed, he would be sent home, to the bridge. The newspaper reporters wrote about the young couple, and people read it.

Someone read it who had an old one room apartment with broken windows. He decided to give the old apartment to the young couple. They got off the street. When the young man got out of the hospital, they moved in and went about fixing up the old apartment. They were out from under the bridge. The state hadn't helped them, but a kind heart had helped them. The young man had scars all over his body.

A Romanian friend of mine had read the story of these two in the newspaper. My friend went to the doctor's office one day, and she happened to meet the young woman because she was big pregnant by that time and on her way to the doctor's office for a regular appointment. The two women got to talking, and my friend invited her to church.

I got to know them at church. They were a lovely young couple. They didn't need the help of the church, but they liked the church. They were so grateful to God! They knew it was God who had gotten them out from under that bridge. If anyone tells you change is easy, they have rocks in their heads.

June 06, 2020 13:34

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Ellysia Mason
08:49 Jun 22, 2020

Hi, I'm from your critique circle this week. Here are my thoughts and suggestons: I think there's a lot of information here and a lot of it is overwhelming the reader. I also think there is a lot of "telling" where there needs to be more "showing." Perhaps the word count is an issue here but I have a few tips: What is the take away messege? That change is hard. That people struggle in Romania post communism. For me, I would perhaps make the story more personal. Perhaps you are a child walking to school, and these are the families y...


Ronda Everson
04:33 Jun 25, 2020

Sorry you didn't like it, I write what I write. It is a true story. I hardly every write anything that isn't true. It is my voice, not yours. I realize that most stories are people's imaginations, and if I am asked to do that, I do, but I speak from the heart. I tell what I know. I have seen much more of the world than most people, and when I write I tell the stories around the world. I have thought about getting off Reedsy prompts because it is not what I thought it was going to be.


Ellysia Mason
18:16 Jun 27, 2020

Sorry, like I said, I'm from the critique circle. I'm not an expert, just a random person who uses the site to write/answer prompts. I'm pretty sure you sign up for others to give criticism on your story- or at least for me I'm pretty sure it was an opt-in process. I wasn't trying to be critical, just constructive. Again, I'm sorry if I've caused offense. I feel like even with true non-fiction writing a narrative is important. Sian William's Rise is a brilliant example I can think of off the top of my head, but David Pelzer also wrote a...


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