Written by S. Mostofi, Cemetery of Dreams is a political thriller novel set in the wake of the 1979 revolution and the hostage crisis.
Mostofi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran and was the the first in her family to immigrate to the United States.
After moving to the US in the 1990s, at the age of sixteen, Mostofi wrote the first draft of her espionage story.
Revisiting the work in 2004, Mostofi found herself rewriting and revising the story, which is now complete, and published.
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Check out the exclusive excerpt from Cemetery of Dreams, below:
Melody went under her sheet. It was hot. She could smell the roses from the yard, heard the crickets, the singing of the birds. It was a warm night. She tried to read, but after a few seconds, she closed the book, turned sideways, and shut her eyes.
Ten minutes later her bedroom door flung open. She turned in alarm and sat up. Julia stood barefoot and in a tee shirt, her long blond hair wild around her, her brown eyes stared at Melody in open horror. “Someone’s at the door.”
“Someone’s knocking on the door.”
Melody pushed aside her sheets and stepped onto the cold floor. She pulled up her blue jeans, her ivory tank top falling over them. And now she could hear the knocking for herself.
“There it is again,” Julia said, her voice quivering.
Melody held up the oil lamp and headed for the stairs. Before descending, she turned to Julia. “Stay here.”
“I will. But what if it’s the…”
Melody did not have an answer, so she started down the stairs.
The knocking echoed through the empty house. Her shadow holding on to the oil lamp reflected on the large living room window, opening to the yard. She stood a few steps away from the door.
“Who is it?” she asked.
She then turned the handle of the door and stood in the complete darkness of the night. She saw what frightened her most – absolutely nothing. A gentle breeze shook the branches of the maple trees.
“Who’s there?” she cried peering into the darkness.
It seemed quiet enough. She turned back, already thinking of her bed and the safety of her home when a hand grabbed her right ankle.
She gasped and kicked. Staggered, she looked down. Below her feet, a figure gradually took shape in the night. It was in the corner of the wall and only a hand extended out toward her. It was wrapped in a long dark cloth, trying to warm its wretched body from the summer night’s breeze. Not an attacker. Something…else.
“Who are you?” Melody said in a voice hardly above a whisper. She held up her oil lamp to look closer. She realized then that Julia was standing behind her. It gave her a secure feeling to know she was not alone.
“Oh my God! Don’t get close, Melody.”
They saw a pair of miserable green eyes staring at them through the wrapped cloth.
“Who is this?” Julia’s voice trembled but it managed to pull Melody out of her trance.
The figure in front of her was a woman.
“Help us,” the woman said in soft, sibilant Farsi. “In Allah’s name, have mercy on us.”
“What is she saying? Melody…”
“Maryam,” Melody bent toward the pitiful woman. “Just please tell me it’s not you. My beautiful cousin Maryam, what have they done to you?”
Maryam cringed, trying to pull herself from her cousin.
“Give me your hand, Maryam. Come on in. You’re home.”
“Melody, who is she? Is she okay?”
“My cousin,” Melody said in English.
Suddenly, from between the layers of Maryam’s veil, Melody caught the sight of a tiny white and red object. She pulled back the veil.
Julia put a hand to her mouth.
“Get up, Maryam. This is Melody, your cousin. Come on in.”
The name seemed to awaken memories for Maryam’s eyes turned amused, the way they did as a child whenever they met. Maryam leaned forward and placed the bloody infant in Melody’s extended arms. Melody did not look at the child. She turned and handed it to Julia.
Julia stepped back but then allowed Melody to place the infant in her arms. Melody pulled up Maryam. Maryam could barely stand and lay a hand on Melody’s shoulder for support. Melody shut the door with her left foot and turned to face Julia’s terrified stare. “Oh come, Julia, it’s just a child.”
Julia held the infant at an arm length and her voice came hardly above a whisper. “It’s not that.”
“What is it, then?”
“It’s dead.” Julia turned her head away from the infant. “Poor thing must’ve died some time ago.”
Maryam growled and sprang forward. Julia danced away. Melody pulled Maryam back. “Calm down, Maryam. Stop.” She turned to Julia. “Give the child to her.”
Julia took a couple of deep breaths, then stepped forward and placed the child in Maryam’s arms. Maryam then became quiet and calm. They led her up the stairs and Melody helped her on her parents’ bed while Julia watched from the doorway. Melody finally came out and shut the door behind her.
“I’m sorry about this, Julia. Thank you. Please go to bed and lock yourself in.”
“No, I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help. I wish I understood the language. She looks sick. Is she all right?”
“I’m not sure. We’ll see how she is tomorrow morning.”
“I’m scared, Melody.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “I’m just so scared.”
“I know. I am too. Go and try to sleep now. It’ll all be fine. She’ll be okay tomorrow morning.”
“What happened to her?”
“She ran away from home with a boy she loved. That was over a year ago. I haven’t heard anything from her since. Her father was executed. She has nowhere to go. I’m not sure what’s happened to her. I know you’re scared but I guess we have to deal with it—“
“I think it’s easier for you to deal with all of this.” Julia frowned. “This is your home. Your country. I’m halfway around the world. I don’t even speak the Goddamn language. My father is still a prisoner and he might be dead for all I know…”
Before Melody could respond Julia burst into tears, ran to her room and locked herself inside.