Christmas miracle

Christmas miracle,  audiobook. ISDN68905830

Yuri Maslov

Genre:modern Russian literature



Publisher:Izdatelskie resheniya

Publication date:23.02.2023


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Christmas miracle
Yuri Maslov
All the events described in thisbook begin just a couple of weeks before Christmas and take place in the cityof Zurich. All members of the Rosenberg family live a calm, slow-paced life.The head of the family, Martha Rosenberg has a job she likes a lot in a largeSwiss bank. Her children, Mark and Greta, live the lives of ordinary teenagerswith school on weekdays and various exhibitions and museums on weekends. And nothing meant trouble it seemed.No one thought about it anyway.

Christmas miracle

Yuri Maslov

© Yuri Maslov, 2023

ISBN 978-5-0059-6623-0

Created with Ridero smart publishing system

Israel, 2022

All the events described in this book begin just a couple of weeks before Christmas and take place in the city of Zurich. All members of the Rosenberg family live a calm, slow-paced life. The head of the family, Martha Rosenberg has a job she likes a lot in a large Swiss bank. Her children, Mark and Greta, live the lives of ordinary teenagers with school on weekdays and various exhibitions and museums on weekends.

And nothing meant trouble it seemed. No one thought about it anyway.

However, fate decreed otherwise and a fair amount of trials and obstacles fall to the lot of our characters. Who in the end will be able to help a seriously ill person and who should he rely on in his life? Will his relatives be able to help him, or will professional doctors do it? Or should he wait upon the Creator? Will a miracle happen on the eve of a bright Christmas Day?

You will find answers to all these questions on the pages of this wonderful and fascinating book.


It was winter. Just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Mark Rosenberg was standing near the Swiss National Museum of Art waiting for his mother and sister to come out.

He was born and raised in the city of Zurich. At the moment he was twelve years old. He was a fairly tall young man for his age. He had black wavy hair and green eyes.

Since childhood, he did not particularly like to go to various exhibitions and museums and opposed in every possible way, when he was forced to visit such places.

So, this time he told his mother that he would leave to the toilet for only five minutes, but instead he went straight to the exit of the building. However, before leaving the building, he did go to the toilet, so he had not lied in this case. He went out into the street and began to look around. He started looking for the nearest cafe, where he could buy himself hot coffee. That day it was pretty cold outside. As is often the case in winter in these parts, there was wet snow under the feet of the inhabitants of the city. Of course, in Zurich there were no such frosts and snowstorms, as in Siberia, but the weather remained rather cool.

He didn’t want to stray too far from the main entrance so as not to lose sight of it. He continued to stand outside and look around until he noticed a cafe nearby.

He approached it and read the name on the signboard.

«Café De Zeevaart,» he said aloud.

Without hesitation, he decided to enter.

Once inside the cafe, he immediately saw a barman behind the counter, who was quite impressive in size. He was about two meters tall, with long blond hair that touched his shoulders. He also had a thick gray beard.

He appeared to be about thirty-five. The barman looked straight at Mark and said:

«Hello, boy.»


«Is it cold outside?» he asked, nodding his head towards the front door.

«Yes, it’s pretty cold.»

«It’s warm in here,» he said thoughtfully. «Have you decided what you want?»

«I would like a coffee.»

«What kind of coffee do you prefer?»

«I think I’ll have a cappuccino.»

«Good choice.»

Mark stood at the counter waiting impatiently for His coffee. He was already looking forward to the moments of joy when he would be drinking it.

«It’s two francs, my young friend,» the barman drew attention to himself.

Mark slowly began to look for his coin purse in a pocket of his jacket. However, in an instant, he realized that today he had left his purse at home.

He was a little taken aback, but continued searching the pockets hoping to find some change. In one of the pockets, he discovered a coin. He immediately grabbed it and took it out of his pocket.

He glanced at the coin hoping that this would be enough to pay for his coffee. However, to his surprise and disappointment it was only one franc.

He remembered all too well that coffee cost two francs. He squeezed the coin in his hand and looked at the barman with eyes full of confusion and despair. The barman understood everything by the expression on the boy’s face and asked him a question himself.

«Well, boy, don’t you have enough money to pay off?!»

«No,» Mark answered sadly. «I have only one franc.»

«Only one franc? It’s funny, but coffee costs two francs!» remarked the barman with a slight smirk on his face.

«I know. I just thought I took my wallet with me, but it turns out that today I left it at home,» the boy said with anguish in his voice.

«Hah, that’s funny! Okay, you don’t have to worry about that. You can take your coffee.

«But I owe you another franc, don’t I?» Mark was a little taken aback by what he heard.

«That’s right. So, bring it in next time. Now, take your coffee before I change my mind.»

«Thank you very much!»

«You’re welcome, young man!» the barman replied kindly.

Joyful and pleased, Mark took his coffee and ran to the building of the National Museum of Art. He reached the exit and waited for his mother and his younger sister to come out. As he stood and waited, he slowly took sip after sip. Coffee indeed turned out quite tasty and flavorful. But most importantly it was hot. At the moment it was all he needed. About five minutes later, he saw his little sister running out of the building. Once on the street, she began to jump joyfully and make snowballs out of the wet snow with her hands. By this time, Mark was already finishing his coffee. Looking at his sister he approached her.

«Here, Mark!» she shouted and threw a snowball at him.

He managed to dodge the snowball flying right at him and approached her closer.

«Stop it, Greta. Where is Mom?»

«She’s coming out now.»

And indeed, a couple of minutes later their mother came out of the building. Her name was Martha and she was thirty-eight years old. She was tall, with long blond hair.

All her life she worked at a local bank called Credit Suisse. She started her career as a bank employee and at the moment she was in charge of a department.

As to Greta, she was ten years old. A cheerful and mischievous girl with a penchant for the exact sciences. She was also quite tall for her age. She had blond hair, often braided. They had a rather friendly and supportive family all the members of which loved and respected each other. However, the kids had never seen their father.

They didn’t know who he was or where he was now. When they asked their mother about him, she usually tried to change the subject of the conversation. The children loved their mother a lot, but also wanted to know something about their dad.

«Mark, where have you been? Greta and I walked around the first floor of the building looking for you. Where did you go again?!» she said with slight indignation in her voice.

«Don’t be angry, Mom. I went out for a breath of fresh air,» he replied calmly.

«Well, we were looking for you. All right, guys, take my hands and follow me!» she commanded in a decisive tone.

In fact, she was a born leader, both at work and at home. And now they were heading towards their car all together, hand in hand.

Silver color Volkswagen Jetta stood in the parking lot for the second hour and, it seemed, was already beginning to miss his owner. When all of them got into the car, Martha turned the ignition key and pressed the gas pedal. Mark started telling her how he went to buy his coffee today and he didn’t have enough money to pay. When Martha heard this story, she immediately had a few questions for him.

«You gave him only one franc, and he still sold you coffee?» she asked in a surprised tone.

«Yes, that’s exactly what happened, Mom!» he answered in a joyful voice.

«Hmm, that sounds pretty weird.»


«Because coffee costs just twice as much as you paid him. In terms of business, it was not profitable.»

«But he turned out to be a rather kind man and still gave me the coffee. So, he is a good person.»

«Yes, he is. But why did you take the coffee if you didn’t have enough money?»

«He told me to pay him back next time. Moreover, it was quite cold outside so I needed badly a glass of hot coffee.»

«I see. Next time we will be somewhere around that place, you should go there and pay him back.»

«Okay, Mom. That’s exactly what I’ll do.»

«Don’t forget. Do you promise me?!»



Greta was sitting in the back seat next to her brother and looked out the window. On one hand, it might have seemed that she was not at all interested in what her mother and brother were talking about. In fact, she was listening attentively and absorbed all the information. For a while she sat silently, staring out the window, and then suddenly remarked:

«I also think that you should definitely pay off your debt.»

«I’ll do it another time. I told him I’d pay him back next time,» Mark answered with some irritation in his voice.

«Now you owe him.»

«So what?!»

«You owe him. You owe him.»

«Enough, Greta, stop it! I said I’d pay him back another time!» he replied with obvious indignation in his voice.

«All right, kids, calm down! We are almost home,» Martha said in a decisive tone.

A couple of minutes later they arrived at their house. It was not very large, but it had everything you need for living. There were two floors, a parking garage, basement and five rooms. Near the house they also had a small lawn and, of course, a dog house for the family’s favorite dog named Max. Seeing a car approaching and Mark and Greta coming out of it, Max immediately ran out of his kennel and ran in their direction. He tried to make it to them, but a chain attached to his neck prevented him from doing so.

Max himself was a purebred German. Both of his parents were German shepherds. As soon as Mark got out of the car, the first thing he did was go to his beloved pet.

Max happily wagged his tail and jumped into his master’s arms, looking straight into his eyes. Martha and Greta also greeted their pet and then went into the house. Mark, on the contrary, stayed outside to play with his pet a little more. Mark and Max immediately fell in love with each other right from the first day they met.

So far, Max has been living with the Rosenbergs for several years and has become a full member of the family. Having played enough with Max, Mark finally decided to go into the house.

At this point, Martha was already finishing the preparations for dinner.

«What are we having for dinner tonight, Mom?» Greta asked.

«Today we have fried potatoes with meat for dinner.»

«Mom, what about salads?»

«Good question, son. How about one with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers?»

«Great. I just got hungry.»

«That’s good. Now go wash your hands. Don’t even come near the table until you do it,» she said decisively.

The children obediently got up and went to wash their hands. In fact, Martha was pretty good at cooking and the kids loved eating homemade food.

After dinner they thanked their mother for this wonderful meal. Greta then left the table and went to her room. Mark took the bowl of his beloved pet and filled it with dog food. He put on his coat and hat, grabbed the bowl and left the house. When he approached the dog house, Max immediately ran out to greet him.

Seeing his master, he started jumping around him all at once. He barked loudly and wagged his tail happily. Mark patted him with his hand and put a bowl of food near his kennel.

Apparently, Max was very hungry, so he began to absorb the contents of the bowl right away. Mark got back into the house with a sense of accomplishment. When he entered the house, he saw his mother washing the dishes in the kitchen. The moment he walked into the living room, she suddenly turned around and looked straight at him.

«Did you want to remain unseen?»

«I was just passing by,» he replied calmly.

«Have you fed Max yet?»

«Yes, Mom.»

«Well done. Now, it’s time for your homework.»

«All right,» he replied, but remained standing beside her as before. «Mom, tell me, where is our dad?!»

Martha stopped washing the dishes and froze for a moment. She just stood there in silence. It lasted for about ten seconds, after which she turned back to her son and said:

«Son, we have decided not to return to this subject, haven’t we?»

«But this question still haunts me,» he said angrily. «Besides, I still haven’t received any answer to it.»

«Not everything is so simple in this life, son,» she said and sighed heavily. «You are old enough and should understand this.»

«I understand everything, mom. But I still want to know where my dad is.»

«Mark, I’m not ready to answer this question right now.»

«But why?!» he asked again.

«The time will come when you will find out for yourself.»

«When will it come?»

«For now, this subject remains closed,» she said in a confident voice. «Later you will find out the answers to all your questions.»

«If you say so,» he said in an unhappy voice.

He still wanted badly to get an answer to his question. He stood a little longer in the kitchen next to his mother, then turned around and went to his room.

«Son, you better think about your school subjects. Don’t forget to do all your homework for tomorrow,» she shouted after him.

Washing dishes in the kitchen she continued thinking about sore. The children were growing up. Greta was already ten, and Mark was twelve years old. Sooner or later, she would have to tell all the truth to her children. Sooner or later, but not today. Now her head was just full of different thoughts. Tomorrow a new day will come and she will be occupied with her work as a head of a department of one of the largest in Switzerland. She really liked her job, and she sought this position for many years. However, her position required high responsibility and sometimes took away a lot of strength from her. It was with these thoughts in her head that she lay down on her bed.

Today, all her strength was gone. She only had time to put her head on the pillow realizing that she would immediately fall asleep. Well, blessed are the sleepy and tired, whose eyelids grow heavy every moment, for now they will close them and plunge into the world of sleep.


Morning came. Martha opened her eyes and reluctantly began to get out of bed. She took a hot shower and brushed her teeth, then immediately went downstairs to the kitchen.

Once in the kitchen, she began to prepare breakfast for herself and her children. She was just about to go into Greta’s room to wake her up, but suddenly she saw that her daughter is already downstairs.

«Good morning, sweetheart.»

«Good morning, Mom.»

«How did you sleep, dear?»


«Good. Where is your brother?»

«Probably still sleeping in his room.»

«Then head upstairs right away! Wake him up and tell him to hurry up, breakfast is almost ready.»

«Okay, Mom.»

So, Greta went upstairs again. Walking into her brother’s room she saw him fast asleep in bed.

«Mark, wake up! Get up!» she said in a loud voice.

He reluctantly opened his eyes and stared at her as if seeing her for the first time in his life.

«Wake up, breakfast is almost ready,» she repeated.

«All right, all right,» he replied in a sleepy voice.

«Did you forget to set your alarm again?»

«I did,» he admitted honestly.

Mark slowly got out of bed and slowly went to the bathroom. When he came down to the kitchen, he saw Greta and his mother already waiting for him at the table.

«Good morning, Mark.»

«Good morning, Mom.»

«I see you almost overslept again,» she stated.

«Yes, Mom. For some reason the alarm didn’t work.»

«I guess you forgot to put it back on?»


There were three plates of food on the table along with three cups of morning coffee.

«Bacon and eggs,» he said in a slumbrous voice.

«Exactly. I did it for you,» Martha answered with a smile on her face.

«It’s very tasty, Mom,» Greta said.

«Thank you, sweetie.»

In fact, kids really loved their mother’s cooking. It seemed that even ordinary coffee that she made in the morning always turned out to be tasty and fragrant.

«Mom, did you feed Max today?»

«No, son, I haven’t yet.»

«Okay. Then I’ll feed him myself.»

«Yes, sure, just don’t forget. Wait for me near the car all ready. And don’t forget your schoolbag,» she showed concern.

«Okay, Mom.»

After breakfast, he returned upstairs, took his schoolbag and went down to the kitchen. In the kitchen, he found dog food and filled his pet’s bowl to the brim with it. After that, he hurried up to his friend to feed him breakfast. When Max saw his master, he ran out to greet him right away.

He began to bark loudly and jump for joy. Mark stroked his beloved pet and placed a full bowl of food in front of him.

Max was very happy about it and began to absorb the contents of the bowl without hesitation. Mark stood and watched his friend having breakfast, but at one moment he heard a familiar voice.

«Son, hurry up! It’s time for us to leave!» Mom called for him.

He turned around and saw his mother near the car opening the front door.

«Coming, Mom.»

He took his schoolbag and went to the car.

«Get in, guys. And don’t forget to fasten your seat belts.»

«Okay, Mom,» they answered in unison.

«Now I will take you to school and then will head straight to work myself. I hope everything goes smoothly today.»

Mark still looked rather sleepy and occasionally yawned while looking out the window. The drive from the Rosenberg’s house to the school took about fifteen minutes. Today this time flew by quite quickly and imperceptibly.

«Well, here we are. Now, hurry up, let’s get out of the car,» she commanded.

The children obediently got out of the car, followed by Martha herself.

«Mark, Greta, I love you. Go to school and take care of yourself. I expect good grades from you.»

«We love you too, Mom,» the children answered in unison.

Martha walked up to them and hugged them one by one, then got back into the car. Silver-colored Volkswagen Jetta was picking up speed carried away somewhere into the distance, beyond the horizon. She pressed on the gas pedal not wanting to be late for work.

Mere twelve minutes later, she was parking her car in the Credit Suisse parking lot. There was still one minute left before the start of the working day. At precisely 8:30 in the morning Martha Rosenberg entered the building.

«Good morning, Martha,» the bank employees greeted her literally at the same time.

«Good morning, everyone!» she answered politely and went to her workplace.

She had been working at this bank for about fifteen years. She started her career as an ordinary bank employee. However, for the past five years, she had worked in a leadership position.

She liked her job in general and this position in particular. Sometimes it even seemed that she was just made for managing the branch of this bank.

She graduated with honors from high school, and then entered the local university in Zurich, the Faculty of Economics, Management and Law.

Studying was easy for her and she was able to pass all the exams and get a bachelor’s degree without any problems. At that time, she already knew what she wanted to do in her life.

She was interviewed for this job and was immediately enrolled in the staff of the bank.

She could conduct new job interviews herself now. At the same time, she could also fire workers, of course, if there was a good reason for that. Greta also had a penchant for the exact sciences. She must have inherited it from her mother. Her favorite subject at school was, of course, algebra.

She also liked such subjects as physics and geometry. As to Mark, he was a pure humanist. His favorite subjects at school were history and geography. He also liked subjects such as biology and physical education. He did not have any special inclinations for the exact sciences, and such subjects as algebra and geometry were given to him with difficulty. And he did not understand chemistry at all and even, one might say, hated it with all his heart. All these formulas, Latin designations and a table with chemical elements were not clear to him and did not interest him at all. He sincerely did not understand why he needed to know and study this at all. Neither did he understand why someone even had come up with such a science as chemistry. What a difference were history and geography. He read school textbooks on these subjects from beginning to end, from cover to cover.

The first half of the working day passed quietly and calmly. Martha was in her natural habitat and knew her job inside and out. When it was time for lunch break, her phone rang. She answered the incoming call and heard the voice of a close friend.


«Hey, Martha.»

«Hello, Peter. How are you?»

«I’m good. How are you?»

«I’m fine too. It’s time for my lunch break.»

«I remember all too well what time you have lunch. How about going out for lunch together?»

«Why not? I will be glad to see you again!» she answered in a rather joyful tone.

«Grunwald restaurant on Zürchenstrasse sounds good to you?»

«Perfect. Wait for me there, I’m on my way.»

«I’m already there. I’m waiting.»

She hung up the phone and broke into a smile. The last time she saw Peter was last week. In total, they had been dating for about two years. True, she could not call their relationship full-fledged. They usually saw each other twice a week. And the dates themselves were not always long in time. Of course, she wanted them to see each other more often. However, the reality was different. It is not so easy to build a private life when you already have children. Peter, like Martha, had children. That year he was to be forty-two years old. There was a lot in common between them. They both raised their children alone. Peter’s wife died in a car accident a few years ago.

Martha, in turn, did not have a husband. To that day, she hadn’t told anyone much about her ex-husband. The children didn’t even know anything about him.

And yet, despite this, they both had their own families. Each of them gave his all to the children. At the same time, they also tried to earn good money so that their children would not need anything.

They both understood that they would hardly ever live together, in a house under the same roof. They were adults and intelligent people and quite soberly assessed their chances for happiness in personal life.

But, despite this, they quickly managed to find a common language with each other. There was a lot in common between them. However, in professional terms, there were slightly different.

Peter never liked being an employee. He always wanted to have his own business. By the age of thirty-five he managed to open his own restaurant. It was called Grunwald and was located on Zürchenstrasse. It was an excellent Swiss cuisine restaurant that needed no introduction in the entire Zurich. That was where Martha was heading now.

According to the good old tradition, he invited her again to his own restaurant. By the way, it was in this restaurant that they first met. Martha really liked the place and enjoyed going there especially in the company of Peter.

Meanwhile, the silver-colored Volkswagen Jetta was already pulling up to the Grunwald restaurant. Martha found a free space in the parking lot and parked the car.

She was in a bit of a hurry as her lunch break was limited. In total, she had forty minutes for lunch. She hurried out of the car and walked towards the entrance to the restaurant. As soon as she entered, she started looking around for Peter. He appeared standing in the very center of the hall and, seeing Martha, went straight towards her.

«Hello, Martha. It’s good to see you again,» he was the first to say hello.

«Hello, Peter. I’m very glad too,» she answered in a joyful tone.

A smile immediately appeared on their faces and they embraced upon meeting just like lovers should. Peter was quite tall and of an athletic build. He had a thick head of black hair.

«How are you? Do you still run a department at your dear bank?» he asked and smiled.

«Yes, I still work a lot. I still lead the department. Well, how are


«I’m good. Things are going well. There are more than enough customers,» he answered with joy in his voice. «So, I booked a table for us in advance.»

He took her hand and led her to a vacant table by the window. As soon as they took their places a waiter appeared at once with the menu.

«You can order whatever your heart desires and not think about paying the bill.»

«Peter, you are so kind and caring today.»

«When was I different?» he replied with a smile on his face.

Martha didn’t answer, but she broke into a smile. Now she was looking at him with loving eyes.

«Have you already chosen what you want to order?» he asked.

«Let’s see what we have here.»

«I think I already know what I will take myself.»

«And what should it be?» she asked, looking him straight in the


«I’m thinking about lamb ribs with beans and green peas and Olivier

salad. And for dessert we will have a cake called Schwarzwald. I will also ask the waiter to bring us a couple of glasses of the most expensive red wine that we have.»

«I believe I’ll order the same for myself.»

«That means that our tastes agree on this, too,» he said, and smiled. «Waiter, you can fulfill our order.»

«Just a minute, sir,» the waiter said dryly, and hurried away.

«You have an excellent taste.»

«I’m aware, thank you.»

«Every time you order at a restaurant, I always want to order the same for myself,» she admitted honestly.

«Yes, my dear, I certainly know a thing or two about food.»

«Do you know the recipe for the dishes you order?»

«What kind of dish are we talking about?»

«Well, for example, today you ordered a Schwarzwald cake for dessert.»


«Do you know its recipe?»

«I do.»



«Won’t you tell me? I would be very interested to hear.»

«Schwarzwald is a cake with whipped cream and cherries. It appeared in Germany in the early 1930s. It is now considered a classic there and has gained worldwide fame.»

To make a Schwarzwald you need to soak biscuit chocolate in kirschwasser, and make a cherry filling. Then you take cherries and chocolate chips to decorate the cake.

«Wow! I didn’t realize you actually know the recipes and the history of the dishes,» she said admiringly.

«I know a lot of things,» he answered pointedly.

«You never cease to amaze me, Peter.»

A few minutes later, the waiter put the ordered dishes on the table. The couple sat and chatted nicely with each other. Peter asked Martha more about her children and wondered how she managed to cope with everything without the help of a housekeeper. In turn, she also asked him about the kids and at the same time admired his restaurant. She really liked to visit the place especially in the company of her beloved. This place was actually quite nice and cozy. And the restaurant itself was not far from the city center.

They were so immersed in conversation that half an hour flew on by. It was time to fold for Martha if she did not want to be late for her favorite work. She was about to get up from the table when suddenly she felt a strong pain in her chest. She felt her insides all squeezed up and a strong cough ripped her body. This incessant cough lasted for about seven seconds, which seemed to her an eternity. She felt really ill.

«What’s wrong with you, Martha?» he said in a confused voice. «Are you okay?»

«Yes, I’m fine,» she said in a hoarse voice.

«Are you sure you feel good?»

«Everything is fine. The cough will go away now. It hasn’t happened to me in a long time,» she said.



«I see blood on the table,» he said, and pointed to the drops of blood that had appeared on the tablecloth.

«Is this my blood?» she asked hesitantly.

«Looks like it. Are you sure you’re all right?»

«It’s all right, Peter.»

«Do you want me to drive you to work?»

«No thanks. I think I can handle it myself.»

«Martha, I insist on my help.»

«Everything is fine with me. I’m better now. I can drive. And it’s time for me to go.»

«Peter walked over to her and hugged her.»

«I’m worried about you, dear.»

«Don’t worry, I’m fine.»

«Well then, see you soon! Take care!»

«Thank you for everything! See you!»

Finally, they smiled at each other again. She looked at her watch and realized she needed to hurry. She didn’t have much time to get to work on time. She left the restaurant and her gaze rushed somewhere up. The sun shone brightly in the sky that day. And now it seemed to her that the sun was shining especially brightly. So bright that the sun’s rays blinded her eyes. She stopped and froze, looking at the endless sky.

At that moment, she suddenly realized how much beauty was around her. This beauty was everywhere. Then she glanced at her watch again and knew she had to hurry. She quickly found her car in the parking lot near the restaurant. The silver Volkswagen was standing not far from the entrance to the restaurant and seemed to be waiting for its owner.

She got into the car, turned the ignition key, and pushed the gas pedal. The car quickly began to pick up speed, and then completely disappeared over the horizon.

A few minutes later she was already entering the Credit Suisse bank building. Today again there were no delays. She went to her workplace thinking about the date.

The date itself went pretty well. Peter, as always, was very sweet and accommodating. And his taste was just perfect. No wonder his restaurant enjoyed such fame throughout the city.

She was more concerned about what happened in the end. Why did she suddenly become so ill? Where did this sharp chest pain come from? And why did she suddenly start coughing so hard?

And those drops of blood on the table. Even now, she felt uneasy. What happened to her today at the restaurant? Until now, she had never had any health problems. Something is not right here. She just had to figure it all out. So far, Martha decided to call the home phone to make sure that everything was all right with the children. Mark picked up the phone and told her that he and Greta were already at home. He talked about how another day at school went and how they got home by bus. She told him that they should not sit down at the TV, but immediately start doing their homework. She also reminded him to feed his pet. In the end she told him that today she would come home a little later than usual.

«Okay, Mom,» he answered to all his mother’s instructions.

Martha looked at her watch. Her working day ended at exactly five o’clock in the evening. There were still fifteen minutes left before the end of the working day. Her physical condition gradually stabilized.

By the end of the day she felt much better than at the end of their meeting with Peter. However, that incident in the restaurant had greatly alarmed her.

Therefore, she decided that it would be better if she went to see her family doctor today. By and large, she never liked visits to doctors or hospitals. True, she had not particularly had to go to such places before. Her health had always been perfect. However, this time she firmly decided that she would go to see her family doctor at the end of the working day.

The work was completed for the day. Martha said goodbye to all the employees and proceeded to the exit of the bank building. When she walked outside, she noticed that the sun had already set, although it was not at all late in time, but in Zurich it got dark quite early in winter. The lanterns were already shining in full, and the night lights were burning all over the city. She got into the car, turned the ignition key and pressed the gas pedal. However, now she was not going along the usual route to the house. That day she was definite to visit the clinic first and only then go home. On the way, she kept thinking about her last meeting with Peter. She also reflected on her children and, of course, her own health. She was very disturbed by this strong cough and a sharp attack of chest pain. This has never happened to her before. Or maybe she was just winding herself up?

Everything was possible. An endless stream of thoughts was spinning in her head until she got to the clinic.

She entered the clinic and immediately went to the reception. The receptionist explained to her that it would not be so easy to see the family doctor that evening without a scheduled appointment. However, Martha insisted quite competently explaining her fears related to her health.

At the same time, she also added that she really needed to get an appointment with a family doctor. The receptionist nodded her head in understanding and promised to help her. She checked the schedule of all the family doctors who were present at the clinic at the moment.

Then she assured her that there was one family doctor whom she could see shortly.

«Dr. Helga has a patient right now. But when he leaves her office, you can immediately go in.»

«Thank you very much.»

«You’re welcome.»

About seven minutes had passed when Martha saw another patient coming out of the doctor’s office. She got up from her chair in a hurry and headed straight to the room.

She knocked softly on the door, then opened it and entered the office.

«Hello. What is your name?»

«Good evening. My name is Martha.»

«Very nice. Have a seat, Martha. My name is Helga Schmidt.»

«Very nice.»

«What can I do for you?»

«I feel good right now, but today at lunch I had an unpleasant incident.»

«Can you go into more detail?»

«During my lunch break, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my chest. Then I started having a strong cough, after which I also noticed drops of blood on the table.»

«A sharp pain in the chest, a violent cough, drops of blood on the table,» Dr. Helga repeated her words.

«Yes, doctor. That’s exactly how it was.»

«Has this ever happened to you before?»

«No, it hasn’t happened until today.»

«Did you measure your blood pressure after that?»

«No, doctor. After my lunch break, I got back to work.»

«I see. Now I will measure your blood pressure now.»

«All right.»

«Do you feel better now than at lunchtime?»

«Yes, doctor. Now I feel better than in the afternoon.»

«So, let’s measure your pressure, and I will also give you a referral.»

«What referral?»

«To the tests that you will have to pass.»

«Ah, tests,» she said in a confused voice.

«Don’t worry like that. I’m sure you’ll be all right. However, it will be better if you pass all the necessary checks.»

«All right, Dr. Helga.»

«Well, here we go with your blood pressure. It is normal. Do you have a headache?»

«No. I feel much better now than in the afternoon.»

«Well, that’s good. I’ve already written you a referral to take the checks.»

«Oh! Thank you, Dr Helga.»



Martha was a little embarrassed at the words «tests» and «checks». She had not visited clinics and hospitals for many years so she almost forgot the sound of such words.

Her health had always been perfect. She monitored it carefully. Martha was a non-smoker and also tried not to drink alcohol.

With a little exception for a glass of red wine with lunch or dinner.

The drive back home from the clinic took her about fifteen minutes. She drove up to her house, and at that very moment Max got out of his kennel. Seeing her car he started barking loudly. However, when she got out, he immediately recognized her and stopped barking. He just stood and looked at his owner.

She greeted Max and went straight to the house. It was pretty chilly outside. At night the temperature dropped to zero degrees Celsius.

«Hi, guys,» she said loudly as she entered the house.

«Hello, Mom.»

«Hello, son. How was your day?»


«Did you feed Max today?»

«Yes, Mom.»

«Good. Where is Greta?»

«She is upstairs, in her room.»

«I see. And what are you doing?» she asked. «Watching TV again?»

«Well, yes.»

«What about homework? Have you done all for tomorrow?»

«Yes, Mom. They did now give us a lot of homework so I’ve already done everything,» he answered in a calm voice.

«Are you sure?»

«I am, Mom.»

«Good. Are you hungry or have you already eaten something?»

«Greta and I have had dinner.»

«And what did you eat today?»

«We had schnitzel and rice.»

«Excellent. So, I should not cook for you?»

«No, Mom.»

«All right. So, I will just prepare something for myself.»

«Mom, you came a little later than usual today,» he said and looked at his mother.

However, she pretended not to hear his words and did not reply.

«Mom, do you hear me?» he repeated his question again.

«Sorry, son. What did you say?»

«I said that today you came home later than usual.»

«Yes, that’s true.»

«Why is that?»

«There were things to do.»

«What kind of things?» he asked tirelessly.

«Urgent matters. Okay, enough questions for today. Let me eat in peace.»

Martha suddenly felt rather tired. She didn’t have much of an appetite and decided to make herself just a salad for dinner. She decided not to tell anything to her children for the time being. Perhaps she was simply overtired at work. Maybe that was the reason for that unpleasant incident at the restaurant.

Lately, she has been working quite a lot and not resting much. And the last time she was on vacation was the year before.

Probably, this all happened to her today due to too much stress on the body. After all, with whom it doesn’t happen?

This could happen to anyone. She slowly finished her salad and decided to go straight to the bathroom. She was so tired that after the bath she immediately went to her room. She lay down on the bed and fell asleep instantly. The accumulated fatigue and various experiences throughout the day made themselves felt.

She was already sound asleep when her daughter came into her room.

«Mom, are you sleeping?» she whispered.

But there was only silence in response. Greta realized that her mother was very tired today. That’s why she went to bed so early. The girl stepped closer to her.

«I love you so much,» she whispered.

Then she kissed her mother on the cheek and left the room.


Morning came. Martha got up reluctantly from the bed and stared out the window. Behind the glass, flakes of white snow were already circling with might and main, covering the roofs of houses, trees, cars and the earth itself. It seemed that the snow had been falling all night and was not going to stop. Outside the window there was a real winter wonderland on the eve of kind and bright Christmas holidays. Zurich was a great place to live even in the winter time.

The ancient architecture of the city attracted many tourists from all over Europe and beyond. Martha really liked her hometown, and the children also loved this place very much at any time of the year. She also loved her job and the very fact that she had two wonderful children.

She also liked Peter a lot. She repeatedly imagined how they would live together in a house under the same roof someday.

Her beloved was a very kind and caring person. In addition, he had excellent taste and a good sense of humor.

Like every morning, she went to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. She hardly had the time to finish brushing when a violent cough broke out again.

She coughed over the bathroom sink for about ten seconds. After the cough stopped, she washed her face again with cold water.

At that very moment, she noticed the drops of blood on the sink. She got pretty nervous.

«What on earth is the matter with me?» she said aloud. «This terrible cough again and more blood.»

She chased away all negative thoughts and from the bathroom went straight to her children’s bedrooms to wake them up. First, she entered Mark’s room.

According to the good old tradition, his alarm didn’t go off again. Or did he just forget to put it on?

«Wake up, son. Time to get up.»

«Okay, Mom.»

«No „moms“. It’s time to get out of bed.»

«Can I get some more sleep?» he asked in a sleepy voice.

«No. Now is the time to get up and go wash up,» she said decisively.

«Okay, Mom,» he said, and began to reluctantly get out of bed.

«Get up, son. In the meantime, I’ll go and wake up your sister,» she said and headed to Greta’s room.

When she entered her daughter’s room, she saw that Greta had already woken up.

«Good morning, Mom.»

«Good morning, sweetie. I see you are already awake.»

«I am. I am an adult already and a responsible one so I can wake up on my own. Besides, I have an alarm clock.»

«Yes, I know. You are a big girl. Why can’t your brother ever wake up on his own?!»

«Because he always forgets to set his alarm.»

«Exactly,» she agreed and smiled. «Okay, I’ll be waiting for you in the kitchen. Just try not to be late.»

«Okay, Mom. You can rely on me, but I can’t vouch for Mark.»

«I know,» she said, and smiled at her daughter.

Martha was a good housewife and in some incredible way managed to always do everything on time. When she started preparing breakfast for the children, she suddenly remembered that she needed to pass all the tests from the referral that her family doctor gave her. And she could do it that very day.

She took care of her health and understood that the situation should be solved with no delay. At the end of the working day she had enough time to pass all the necessary checks.

In addition, she was very alarmed by this strong fit of coughing that she had this morning. And at the sight of her own blood, she generally felt sick.

Meanwhile, the children were already in the kitchen. The first question they asked was about their long-awaited breakfast.

«Already hungry early in the morning, guys?» she asked.

«Yes, Mom,» Greta replied.

«As for myself, I want coffee more than food. I need to cheer up in the morning,» Mark answered.

«Everything is ready, my darlings. Both coffee and breakfast.»

«What are we having today, Mom?»

«Scrambled eggs and bacon.»

«Again?» he was slightly surprised.

«Not again, but one more time,» she said, and smiled. «Don’t you like scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast?»

«I do. That’s not the point. I just wanted something different today.»

«We’ll have something different for lunch and dinner, and now we’ll have bacon and eggs.»

«Okay, Mom.»

«By the way, son, don’t forget to feed Max. He is also a member of our family.»

«Okay, Mom, I’ll feed him, don’t you worry,» he assured her.

Martha was in a pretty good mood this morning. She slept well and managed to do everything on time as usual. And if not for that coughing fit and drops of her own blood on the sink, her mood could be even better. Now she had to take kids to school, and she would still have time to get to work on time. Dropping the children off at school she gave them her parting words and instructions for the day.

At precisely 8:30 a.m. she entered the Suisse bank building. She knew her job inside and out. And at her workplace she felt like a fish in water.

First of all, she made sure that all the employees of her department were at their workplaces. Then she instructed some of them regarding their work.

And only after that she retired to her office. Sitting at her table she was checking the bank’s performance reports for the last quarter.

Yet the thought of Peter never left her mind. Maybe she didn’t want to admit it to herself, but deep down she really wanted him to call her today as well.

She would only be glad if they had the opportunity to see each other more often. She wished they could meet on weekends as well.

But both of them had children who required a lot of time and attention from each of them. That is why they could not make it on weekends. Neither did they tell their children about each other keeping their dates in secret from them. They believed that at this point it was better for the kids not to know about their relationship.

Their children went to school and should not be concerned by anything except their studies. They did not need to fill their young heads with problems of adults and their relations. Perhaps in the future, when the kids finish school, they will tell them their story.

Time passed, but Peter still didn’t call her. Today Martha went to lunch break in proud solitude.

«I wonder why he never called me? He probably has so many visitors today that he is far too busy for me right now,» she thought aloud sitting at her workplace.

Time flowed inexorably and the working day was almost over. However, today she was not going to straight home after work.

She firmly decided that today she would go to the clinic again and pass all the necessary checks there. She always monitored her health and understood that she needed to pass all the tests the sooner the better. But before going to the clinic, she decided to call the home phone.

She considered it necessary to warn her children that today, just like yesterday, she would be home later than usual. Of course, her kids were smart and independent, they could take good care of themselves. But she felt she had to warn them that she would be late again today anyway. The phone beeped again and again, but no one answered.

Probably she should try again. And she started to dial the same phone number. Moments later, she heard a familiar voice.


«Hello. Greta, how nice to hear you. Are you already at home?»

«Yes, Mom.»

«Is Mark next to you?»

«He’s in the living room.»

«I see. Are you okay?»

«Yes, Mom, we’re fine.»

«I called you to tell you that I will be a little late again today.»

«How late?»

«Not much. It will take some time however,» she paused briefly in the conversation before continuing. «You are already so grown up and independent, and today you have to prove it in practice.

«You mean we don’t have to wait for you, but cook dinner for ourselves?»

«Yes, my dear. You understood everything correctly.»

«Okay, Mom. We will figure it out.»

«You are smart, guys. You’ll make it.»

«No doubt, Mom. Everything will be fine. Don’t worry about us,» she said.

«I don’t. Okay, now it’s time for me to go.»

«Bye, Mom.»

«So long, Greta.»

She finally calmed down that she was able to get through and warn her children that today she would come home later again.

She opened her purse and started checking to see if she hadn’t forgotten to bring a referral for tests. After all, without the paper, she simply would not be allowed to pass all the necessary checks and tests.

It seemed that everything was in perfect order. The referral was still in the same place, where she put it in the early morning. She also made her firm decision to pass all the checks. And now nothing could stop her from getting to the clinic.

She looked at her watch again and realized that the working day had already ended. Martha politely said goodbye to all the employees at work and headed toward the exit.

When she left the building, she immediately felt that it was rather cool outside. Of course, during the day it was much warmer than now. Wet snow had been falling all day without ceasing and, it seemed, was not going to stop. However, despite such weather, Zurich still remained beautiful. In winter Zurich was especially beautiful, even despite the cool weather and sleet, which continued to fall without stopping. The silver Volkswagen Jetta was still waiting for its owner in the parking lot for Credit Suisse employees. Each bank employee was entitled to one parking space. The parking lot itself was right in front of the bank building.

Zurich was a rather small city. And many local residents saw their advantages in this. For example, there have never been serious traffic jams on the roads of the city. Moreover, there were no huge crowds of people always hurrying somewhere either. The drive from work to the clinic took Martha no more than fifteen minutes. She planned to quickly pass all the tests and hurry up home to the children.

When she entered the clinic, she headed straight to the reception. The receptionist explained her in detail what to do, which office she needed to go to and showed her where it was. In total, she had to go through several checks and pass various tests. In order to start the procedure, she had to go up to the first floor and find office No. 10. There was a patient inside the office and she was the next in line. She didn’t have to wait long this time. Literally five minutes later the door opened and a man came out of the office. It was her turn now.

«Hello, Doctor.»


«I have a referral for tests,» she said, and handed him the referral from the family doctor.

The doctor carefully read everything that was written on the paper.

«And how do you feel now?»

«Now I feel good.»

«All right. So, it says blood, urine, X-ray. In total, you will have to pass several tests and undergo several checks now.»

«Okay, Doctor.»

«Are you ready?»

«Yes, Doctor.»

«Well then, let’s get started.»

And Martha began to take all the necessary tests and pass all the necessary checks. During that evening, she had to go around more than one office in the clinic.

Having gone through all the tests she was about to leave the clinic.

«And what about the results? You’re not interested, I suppose?!» the doctor suddenly asked her.

«Why am I not interested?» she was slightly surprised at what she heard.

«You forgot to ask when you can get these very results,» he reminded.

«Ah, right. I completely forgot. When can I get the results of all my checks?»

«In three days. Your family doctor will inform you.»

«Good. Thank you, Doctor.»

«Goodbye, Martha.»


«Take care of yourself.»

«Thank you, Doctor. All the best to you,» she said goodbye and left the office.

That’s all. It is done. All the required tests were taken and all the necessary checks were passed. She could finally go home to her children.

Upon arrival she saw the children sitting on the sofa in the living room. As usual, they were watching their favorite cartoons.

«Hi, guys! Mom’s home,» she said as soon as she entered the house.

«Hi, Mom,» the children’s voices were heard at the same time.

«How are you? How was your day today?»

«I’m fine, Mom,» Mark answered without hesitation.

«Me too,» Greta answered a little belatedly.

«So am I.»

«Mom, why did you come home later than usual today, like yesterday?»

«Well, you see, son, both today and yesterday I had some things to do.

«What kind of things, Mom?»

«It’s none of your business.»

«Aren’t you going to tell us anything?» his curiosity seemed to know no bounds.

«Why don’t you stop bothering Mom with your questions?» Greta entered the conversation. «She doesn’t have to report to you about her personal affairs!»

«It’s all right, daughter, I don’t need protection,» Martha said, after which she continued. «You understand, son, adults have their own business, which they are not obliged to tell everyone about.»

«I understand, Mom. I was just curious. After all, we are not strangers to each other.»

«We aren’t,» she agreed. «I understand your curiosity, son. Perhaps I will tell you later about it. Later, but definitely not today. I’m really tired right now.

I just want to take a break from all my affairs and work as well and get some rest.»

«Okay, Mom. I understand.»

«Fine,» she said, and went to the kitchen.

She opened the refrigerator considering its contents.

«We still have chicken schnitzels. That’s good,» she said. «Do you want something for dinner?» she asked.

«We’ve already eaten tonight, Mom,» Mark answered.

«What did you have?»

«Today after school we went to a pizzeria called Pizza Italiano.»

«Oh, I see. Where did you get the money for the pizzeria?» she suddenly became very interested.

«I still have leftovers from last time.»

«Last time?» she asked.

«Well, from my birthday. Remember, you gave me money that day yourself?»

«That’s right,» she agreed.

«That’s the money Greta and I paid for the pizza today.»

«I see. So, you are not hungry guys?» she decided to make sure again.

«No, don’t cook for us. Not for me, anyway.»

«Good. More for me,» she said with a smile on her face.

And on that joyful note, she began to cook her dinner.

Today, her children did not stay up late. They went to their rooms on time. During this time, Martha managed to have dinner and take a hot bath.

After that, she decided that now she would also go to bed. Her energy reserve for today was almost exhausted. However, this time she supposed she still had time check upon her children’s bedrooms before going to bed herself. To begin with, she decided to see her daughter. She slowly opened the door and saw that Greta was already sound asleep in her bed. After that, she headed to her son’s room to check if he was sleeping. Opening the door, she saw Mark lying on his bed. She stood for a while near the door and was about to leave the room. At that moment, her son turned to her and raised his head.

«I’m still awake,» he said in a low voice.

«Haven’t you fallen asleep yet, son?»

«No, Mom. I can’t sleep.»

«You’ve got something on your mind again?»

«Yes, Mom. You’re right,» he admitted to her.

«Let go of all your thoughts and relax, son. Don’t think about anything and you’ll soon fall asleep,» she advised him.

«I am trying but it doesn’t work, Mom. There are questions that still bother me.»

«What kind of questions, my dear?»

«I have already asked you several times. But never received an answer to them,» he said with anguish in his voice.

«You see, sweetheart, there are things that I cannot tell you yet,» she admitted honestly.

«I know, Mom. But you should try to understand me too.»

«What is it that stops you from falling asleep right now?»

«I asked you this question a couple of days ago.»

«About your Dad?»


«Oh, Mark. It’s not that simple,» she said and sighed heavily.

«See! You never answered this question for me!» he stated.

«It’s all very difficult, darling,» she sighed again. «I think I’ll talk to you and Greta about it a little later.»

«Later? And when is it going to be?»

«When you grow up.»

«But I’ve grown up already! I’m already twelve years old! I’m not a kid anymore, Mom.»

«Quiet, my son, don’t speak so loudly or you’ll wake up your sister,» she said, and fell silent for a while. «I will definitely tell you everything, but not today. Deal?»


«Don’t be angry with me, please. Maybe after Christmas I’ll tell you the whole truth about your father.»

«Do you promise?»

«I do.»

«So, you’ll tell us everything after Christmas?»

«Yes, after Christmas I will tell you everything. Now close your eyes and don’t think about anything.»

«Okay, Mom.»

«Good night, sweetie.»

«Good night, Mom.»

In parting, Martha patted her son on the head and kissed him on the forehead. It’s true, they are already quite adults.

Mark will turn thirteen next year. And Greta was quite smart and developed beyond her years. It would be impossible to hide the truth from them all the time.

Besides, it’s just pointless. After all, children had the right to know the whole truth about their father. In any case, she had already given her word to her son and was not going to break it.


Morning came. Martha had woken up before the alarm went off. That night she slept well and upon waking up began to collect her thoughts.

Like yesterday today she had to do everything on time: wake up her children, make coffee and breakfast for them, take them to school.

She began to recollect how the previous day had gone. She recalled how she went to the clinic after work and went through all the necessary checks there.

She remembered that the day before doctor had reminded her that the results of all her tests and checks would be ready three days later. And to get all the results ready, she will need to contact her family doctor. And since today was Wednesday, then already on Friday she could easily plan her visit to the clinic. She also recalled her promise which she had made last night to her son before going to bed. She always kept her word in this life to any person. And if she gave her word, she must kept it no matter what the cost. The house was still very quiet and the children, apparently, were still sound asleep in their beds.

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