100_1269I took to calling her Stella after the girl who taught me English and the way. One reminded me of another: pale, luminescent, and a faint intoxicating romance that was central to both beings. Stella was both friend and foe that night. Friend because she glistened more brightly than usual. She made for less chance to stub our bare toes as we wound through the dusty streets barefoot. She was foe for the same reason. Pale lunar brightness sucked up the shadows we normally used to skitter our way unseen to the city walls.

Not that anyone really cared what we were doing. Urchins were generally beneath the notice of the Basji. We were  dogs to be kicked when in the way or starved out of existence. But not all of our friends were urchins. The police had their eyes on bigger snakes in the desert and if we could lead them to those bigger snakes then we would be temporarily worthy of a watchful eye.

I thought more than once about staying away that night because Stella was so full. I couldn’t stay away. My soul cried for its food and I knew my brother and sister still needed to hear and know the truth that the English Stella had taught me. She was gone now deported along with her parents back to that far away country of bogs and lakes. I was left alone in my hot dusty world to lead my family to the truth. So we clung to what shadows  were left and made our way to the city wall. My sister gripped  my shirt tails with one hand as we sidled along the rough stone until we found the dark brick. Fearful eyes peering out of the tiny  burka made her old beyond her years. My brother, the youngest, held her hand bravely pretending to comfort her while his own palpable fears consumed his features.

We found the dark rock that marked the way and in the distance I could see the shadow of the big dome lit by Stella’s soft glow.

“Ready?” I asked.

They nodded in Stella’s half-light.

We ran.

The  half mile to the big rock left us winded and sweating in the heat of the desert night. Still I began to sing the familiar hymn I heard in the distance through my panting. We were at Big Dome, our secret church in the desert outcropping. The little congregation looked up with fear as we approached. Then Afareen broke ranks from the little group and greeted us.

“Come children. You are welcome! Abdullah was just about to begin the reading.”

Abdullah stepped into the center of the little circle and opened the Bible and began to read by Stella’s light.

This story was born out of Lilith’s prompt, “Fly Me To the Moon”. Check out her work and the work of her crew at

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