Author's note: S. Mostofi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. The first in her family to immigrate to the United States, S. Mostofi came to America in the 1990s at the age of sixteen. She wrote the first draft of Cemetery of Dreams, a political thriller/espionage novel set in the wake of the 1979 revolution and the hostage crisis, when she was fourteen years old in Iran. In 2004, she returned to it, eventually rewriting and revising it. For more information please visit her website at smostofi.com.
The house was dark. A cold wind through a broken window blew the torn gray curtains aside, allowing the full moon to shine on the remnants of tragedy. The furniture of the once grand living room had disappeared except for a stained couch and a green marble table carelessly pushed against the hall wall. Bricks, rocks, and gravel were piled in the stone-carved fireplace. The beam of her flashlight wandered over the cream-colored walls, now covered with spiteful slogans against the household. Someone had printed his name in huge letters on the middle of the living room wall and dated it – February 11th, 1979.
Hezbollah has been here.
Melody tripped over the three steps connecting the long hallway to the large cold living room but caught herself.
Her voice echoed through the vacant house.
She spun around, pointing her flashlight at the entrance door at the end of the dark hallway. “Is anybody here?”
She stood numb, her flashlight to her side, a knife in her other hand, her ears straining. Were they still here? Hiding? Waiting to ambush her? For five minutes she stood there, frozen.
Let them come. At least it would be over.
For months she had lived in agony with her mother in an old cottage close to Saveh. In that desert climate, they had waited patiently for news about her father. Senator Zandi had been yanked from his home the day before they were to fly to the States. That had been eight months ago, and they had not had news from him until a few days ago. Her mother had insisted they move to their old farmland in case the pasdars came after them as well - their passports were confiscated and they were not allowed to leave the country. There they had waited patiently for news about her father and finally received it on April 8th. He had stood in front of the firing squad on April 6th, almost blind and certainly mad. But that had not been enough. Upon hearing the news, her devoted mother had suffered a heart attack and died on the spot.
She shivered as she looked around.
Silence - that bleak solitary silence that had been her only companion for the last few days.
She turned around, her flashlight pointing aimlessly at the floor. Her eyes were adjusting to the darkness. She walked to the shattered window to look outside. In the glow of the dim streetlight she could see the garden pool with its once blue water, now green, empty coke bottles and newspapers bobbing on its surface. The pool chairs were stolen, except one, which was cut to ribbons. The teak lawn furniture had been used for a patio fire, two table legs still lying near the pile of ashes.
Melody turned around and walked up the stairs, which circled the remains of a Baccarat crystal chandelier, hanging loose and broken from the ceiling. She nudged open the master bedroom door with her foot. Her flashlight beam fell on the torn curtains, swaying in the wind. The beds were slept in, the sheets rumpled. Smell of rotten fruit filled her nostrils. A bunch of grapefruit, apples, some rice, and meat were thrown casually into a corner on the marble floors and now were covered with cockroaches and ants. She stepped into the bathroom. A strong scent of human urine hit her stomach. She pulled out a handkerchief from her pocket and flushed the toilet. On the mirror someone had written with her mother’s red lipstick, “I hate you!”
She walked out and stood in the corridor, looking down. Her flashlight scanned the walls catching glimpses of pictures, slogans, and colors. Her tongue moved over her dry lower lip. It had been days since she’d taken a shower or had a decent meal.
She came to herself with a start. For ten minutes she had been staring blankly at a picture in the beam of her flashlight, a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini taped to the wall. From a distance, the song of the azan calling the Moslem brethren to prayer, echoed through the house. She listened. That song she had once loved and cherished, that had meant the orange descent of the sun upon the sand dunes, now seemed to only spread terror from the dark tall tower of the mosque.
Her eyes went back to Ayatollah Khomeini. An old man, with a turban wrapped around his head, a white beard covering half his face. Watchful angry eyes. He was coming closer, pulling her to him, a pitiless smirk on his lips. He was insane, the phantom of Lucifer, a bloodthirsty creature here to destroy her like he had destroyed them. Around his face, the revolutionary colors glowed – green for Islam, red for blood, black for death.
Melody sank to the stairs, took her head in the palm of her hands, and wept.
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