[Update 9/13/14:] This story (the top version, from 1992) received rave reviews and stirred imaginations at Writer’s Club in the summer of 2013.  🙂  I may revise it one of these days….

I wrote the first version of this story as a senior in high school, while listening to Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.”  It was July 27, 1990.  The story was based on a dream I had just had that morning.

First I’ll include the much better-written version I wrote in 1992 or 1993, in college.  Then I’ll show the original version, which does have its own strengths.

Alkin’s character in the dream was Avon from the British sci-fi show “Blake’s 7“; his appearance was the same that he assumed in an episode of Dr. Who (Timelash), in which the same actor played Tekker: Romanish clothes and medieval hair.  The planet Roke was loosely based on Rome.

Revised version, copyright 1992:

The Last Night

The young woman of twenty threw on her cloak and hid her face with the hood.  No one must recognize her.  She opened the door and slipped out, as quickly and quietly as possible.  Then she opened the gate, and hurried away with light steps.

The villa was all dark.  Even the servants were asleep.  No one would notice her.

Her parents agreed with her political views, but would not approve of her zeal for them.  They would accuse her of the rashness of youth.  Her father was a senator and had to have a respectable family.

Well, the rashness of youth was getting the emperor stirred up, and, besides, one of their group was an old man, the adviser.

She found her way through the dark streets, her eyes constantly watching for danger of any kind–a soldier, a mugger, or a mere witness.  After what seemed only a few hours short of forever, she arrived at Morcub’s house.  She gave three raps on the door, and the peephole slid open.

“Reach for the dream,” she whispered, and the door opened just enough for her to slip through.  She did, and a man of thirty closed the door behind her.

“You’re late, Ocsabia,” he said, reproach in his tone.  “Morcub was worried.”

“I was delayed.”

“Don’t let yourself be delayed.  We have little time each night we meet; do you want the morning light to reveal us?”

“Why do you always treat me this way, Alkin?  I said I was delayed.  I didn’t cause it.  It’s not as if I was hours late.”

“Let’s just get going.  Give me your cloak.”

“I get a much warmer reception than yours when I go to meet with the saints.”

“Don’t compare me to those eccentrics.  Just give me your cloak.”

Ocsabia tugged at the string that held on her cloak, whipped off the cloak, and tossed it into Alkin’s arms.  Loosening the veil over her hair, ears and neck, she strode into the meeting-room.

Sitting on cushions in a close circle were the others: Morcub Padrit, the leader, a dark-haired man in his late thirties; the old man Alukremub, whose age no one knew for certain; [name], a couple of years younger than Ocsabia, of the plebeian class; and Hifary, about Ocsabia’s age, and one of the saints.

He was a dear friend, and she knew he loved her with more than just saintly love.  She and Alkin joined them, forced to sit next to each other because of the arrangement of the cushions.

“Welcome, Ocsabia,” Morcub said, then he addressed the group.  “The emperor is now aware of our presence.  We don’t kill as some groups would do, due to Alukremub’s counsel, but his voice in the Senate and our passive resistance to tyranny have made us visible.  We have to be careful now–we are probably being closely watched.”

“I tried to warn Ocsabia of that when she came so late to our meeting,” Alkin said.

Ocsabia glared at him.  “Alkin thinks the fate of our cause depends on me alone.”

“Please, let’s have peace at this meeting,” Morcub cried.  “I want to speak with you two later.”

“I don’t see why we don’t just kill the emperor,” [name] said.

“We are resisters, not assassins.”

“Then let’s kill some of the emperor’s guards.”

“No, let’s resist without bringing death on ourselves,” Alukremub said.

“Talikula will never change the laws except as they suit him.  He’s mad, and Roke is in chaos with him as emperor.  He deserves to die.”

“If our sins were measured, we’d see we all deserve to die,” Hifary said.

Morcub said, “I’m sure we all know of the new tax, on the hours each person is awake.  Next thing you know, he’ll be taxing us for the air we breathe.  We refused to pay the tax on people with eyebrows, and the whole city followed our lead.  Talikula had to let us go, and he stopped the tax.  Maybe the same thing will happen this time, so let’s all stand together.”

He ended the meeting, and took Ocsabia and Alkin aside and into a side room, after calling a trusted servant to get some food for everyone.

“I don’t know why you two don’t get along,” he said, “but please, at least try.  Ocsabia, do as your religion’s leaders say, and live in peace with everyone, even Alkin.”

“I try, but he’s so antagonizing,” Ocsabia said.

“She has too quick of a temper,” Alkin said.  “She’ll argue at the slightest intimidation.”

“There it is, then,” Morcub said.  “Don’t intimidate her, Alkin.”

“But she’s such an annoying child, with her pampered looks and silly, womanish concerns.  Her ideals show she knows nothing of the world, thinking man can possibly live in peace and harmony.”

“Let her have her ideals.  For us to survive, we must act as a group, and support each other.  I want to see an improvement in the relationship you two have with each other.  For a start, cooperate with each other and serve the fruit.”

He grabbed the fruit platter from the surprised servant’s hands, and left with him.

“Grab a bowl and put some of the fruit in it,” Alkin said.

“There you go, ordering me around,” Ocsabia said.

“You just don’t like being considered less than you want to be, a beautiful daughter of a senator.  You think you have special status.”

“I just don’t like being ordered around.  I am not a silly child, either.  How can we ever get along if you keep putting me down?”

“I put you down because you need to be humbled.  You may act like you love all people, giving your money to the poor and helping your servants, but inside you’re still as snobbish as you always were before you became one of these ‘believers.’  I’ve known you since you were a child, a proud child, and people just don’t change like that.”

“I can’t believe you said that.”  She wiped away a tear.  “There has been a change in me since I was a child.  I can see it.  I’m ashamed of how proud I used to be.”

“There’s been a definite physical change, not a change of heart.  But the physical one–” He looked her over, from her face to her calves.  She felt like a prized horse.  “Yes, I was wrong on one point–You’re no longer a child.”

He grabbed her, and she struggled, thinking he was going to hit her.  Instead, he kissed her, and set her free.

Ocsabia stepped back, gaping.  “How could you do that?” she cried.  “I didn’t want you to.”

“You can’t tell me that,” Alkin said.  “You kissed back.”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“A woman doesn’t kiss back when she doesn’t mean to.”

Ocsabia flushed, and bowed her head.  Alkin stepped up to her, took her in his arms again, raised her chin, and kissed her more gently this time.

“Where’s that food?” [name] called from the other room.  Alkin and Ocsabia let go of each other, and silently began to put some of the fruit into a bowl.  [Name] came into the room, and leaned on the doorframe.

“A little quicker, please, before you kill each other,” he said with a grin.  “Morcub is a fool.  His age has made him mellow.”

“He gets results,” Alkin said, irritated.

“His policies are the best,” Ocsabia said, “when compared to insurrectionists.  He respects the importance of each person, bad or good as they are.”

“Well, one bad person is dead.  I sneaked up to one of the palace guards earlier tonight, and killed him.  Talkula will know we’re not to be trifled with.”

“You’re a fool!” Alkin growled.

“I take action.”  [Name] pursed his lips and stalked away.

Alkin carried the bowl into the other room.  As Ocsabia rearranged the fruit left on the platter, Hifary came into the room.

“Are you all right, Ocsabia?” he said, saying her name as if it were the most beautiful word he knew.

“Yes.”  Ocsabia smiled.

“Did Alkin say anything to upset you?”

“He loves me.  And I love him.  That’s what caused the tension between us: We loved each other and didn’t know it.”

“Then I’m happy for you.”

Ocsabia studied his face–It showed his sincerity.  Even though her news had to be painful, all Hifary wanted was her happiness.  What love he had for her.

A commotion in the other room caused them to hurry there.  The sight of soldiers stopped them cold.

They’d somehow been betrayed, and one soldier said [name] had been seen by the body of a murdered guard–This group was in deep trouble now.

A soldier herded Hifary and Ocsabia over with the others with the tip of his sword.  One of the other soldiers tried to grope Ocsabia, but Alkin jerked his arm away.

The soldier ran him through with his dagger, and he fell at Ocsabia’s feet.  She screamed.  Hifary held her to his breast as she sobbed.

“Let the Holy Spirit calm you, Ocsabia,” he whispered.  “God is with us all the time, whether we live or die.  Just keep trusting Him.”

Even in her sobs, Ocsabia knew the value of such a friendship.  Just before the soldiers led them away, he squeezed her hand.

————————————

High school version, copyright 1990:

Untitled

Their leader was a tyrant.  He imposed taxes to pay for his own pleasure, killed anyone who disagreed with his decisions, restricted anything under the sun, and he and his soldiers persecuted those who believed in only one God.

A resistance group arose on this little planet named Roke.  The leader was named Morcub Padrit, and an elderly man named Alukremub counseled him.

Close in age to Morcub was thirty-year-old Alkin, an unprincipled man whose loyalty to the group was sometimes doubtful.  His views and those of a young woman in the group often clased, and they argued as loudly as they could without being discovered.

This young woman, Ocsabia, was a lovely eighteen-year-old with an hourglass figure and of medium height.  She, along with a young man of the same age named Hifary, was one of the group and a believer in the one true God.

This was not the same as a Christian in every way, but in many ways.  The souls of believers and non-believers both went to the same place, however, since this was not humankind.

Ocsabia lived alone, a not uncommon thing for women to do.  She was fashionable, and always knew just what clothes and hairdo to wear.

Fashions on Roke lasted for hundreds of years, and included pants, capes, and long, flowing robes, along with long hair either braided–possibly coiled–or loose.

One cloth headdress covered both the head and neck and left only the face showing, and had a slit in the back through which the hair could be pushed.  Ocsabia, as all women did, wore this headdress most often.

She had chestnut, waist-length hair.  She was still a virgin, as she’d been born into the Church and kept its statutes all her life.  She was no spendthrift, but prudent in all matters.  Therefore she never found herself in debt.

Her pagan friends jokingly called her the vestal, or, as they would say it in their language, bessaf (bes’ sif).  “Surely you are a priestess of Bessa,” they’d say, “or do you even know who she is?  She’s the goddess of the hearth and hearth fire, little believer in only one God.”

She was desired as a wife by many men.

Alkin, on the other hand, was good-looking, tall, and strong, but not a believer.  He worshipped the pagan Rokan gods and goddesses, and this was another point of disagreement between him and Ocsabia.  He lived with a friend just a few doors down from Ocsabia.

He also was fashionable, and wore his dark hair chin-length, covering his ears, and in bangs reaching to just above his eyebrows.  Men’s fashion also included pants and robes, but also had a Roman-like tunic and toga.

Hifary was pleasing to look at, lively, and a bit fashionable.  He wore tunics mostly, and kept his red hair short and ears uncovered.  He wore his bangs about the same length as Alkin’s.

He was sweet, chaste, gentlemanlike, devoted to God, and a likely match for Ocsabia.  He and Ocsabia often went out on dates together.

Morcub held the meetings in his house, and the members entered through a trap door (in the floor).  Each member had a smaller trap door in his house which led to a tunnel, which led to Morcub’s house.

During one meeting, Ocsabia and Alkin let their voices get too loud while arguing, and Morcub said,

“Please keep your voices down!  Do you want us to be discovered?  Really, I don’t see why you two can’t settle your differences peaceably.”

Once, Ocsabia came down with a bad cold-like illness and had to miss a meeting.  As soon as he saw her work outside in her garden again a few days later, Alkin went over to find out if she was recovered.

She was, so he asked to talk with her inside.  She took him into a little room with no windows and closed the door.  She lit a lamp and said in almost a whisper,

“What’s this you want to talk to me about?  Does it have to do with the rebellion?”

“Yes,” Alkin said.  “We want to rescue a political prisoner from his cell tomorrow morning.  We need you to distract the guards while we unlock the door.  He’s in solitary confinement.”

“So how am I supposed to distract them?”

“Just walking by them in pants should be sufficient.  Get them to leave their post.”

“Like this?”  She walked forward a few steps, her hands on her hips and shaking her hips.  She had pants on so she could work in her garden, and that combined with the way she now walked caused Alkin to notice her figure for the first time.

“Yes, yes, that’s quite all right,” he said.  “That’ll certainly get their attention.”  Then, under his breath, “It certainly got mine.”

“What did you say?”

“Oh, nothing.”  Ocsabia took her place in front of Alkin again, and it was all he could do to keep from examining her figure with his eyes.

He tried to content himself with just looking at her lovely face, the innocent eyes of which now gazed up at him in anticipation of his next word.  The rosy cheeks; the shapely, red lips just waiting to form words in reply….

Before he knew what he did, he kissed her.  When he released her, the eyes on that face, wide with shock, stared at him, and the lips outlined a mouth gaping in amazement.

He could utter no words in explanation to those eyes, even though he had an explanation.  All he could do was turn and walk out.

*******

Ocsabia extinguished the lamp and left the room, looked around and didn’t see Alkin anywhere, then slumped into a chair.  Her thoughts, her emotions, her beliefs all scrambled together into one huge mass of confusion; and no matter how hard she tried, she could not sort them out.

One moment she felt disgusted, another moment she remembered the kiss with a smile, another moment it repulsed her.  One moment she thought she loved Alkin, another moment she fought to keep from hating him.

Believers weren’t supposed to hate.  What was the prudent thing to do?  What did God will in this case?  What would He have her do?

All she could do was pray for wisdom and guidance, and that her feelings for this man would become clear to her.

Alkin came to Ocsabia’s door the next morning to escort her to the place for political prisoners.  He only said why he was there, nothing more.  She wore pants for this job, and this made it all the more difficult for him to keep from possibly offending her by looking at her figure.

He led her to a place just behind the building, which had only one cell inside and was more the size of a shed.  Rokan solitary confinement was this way.

The other buildings stood hidden behind a wall to the right.  This building had only one door and no windows, and could stand unwalled near the street.  Solitary confinement buildings stood near streets so everyone could see what happened to political dissenters.

Alkin and Ocsabia sneaked around to the side of the building, then Alkin sent Ocsabia around to the front.  She collected herself, then assumed her “walk.”  She passed by the guards in their armor, short skirts, gladiator sandals and helmets.  She didn’t see what happened, but she knew the plan, and that Alkin took the keys from one guard as soon as their heads turned.

She turned around and beckoned to the guards, who walked up to her and left the building unguarded, obviously assuming it was perfectly safe, if they even thought about guarding their post at all.

She entertained them with flirtatious banter as Alkin unlocked the door, went inside, unlocked the prisoner’s shackles, and led him outside, behind the building, and into the street.  As soon as she saw they were safely away, Ocsabia said,

“Aren’t you forgetting your post?”

The guards spun around and found the door open and the keys on the ground.  As soon as they turned around, Ocsabia sprinted down the street.

Morcub hid the man in his house until they could depose the emperor.  Ocsabia began to wonder if someone would have to hide her as well.  She went to Alkin’s house afterwards while his friend was out.

“I hope they won’t kill those guards because he escaped,” she said.

“You and your compassionate heart,” Alkin said.  “They’re the enemy, girl.”

“Am I in danger?  Will the guards tell who I am?”

“I doubt they’ll even say they left their post to flirt with a woman.  All their commanding officer will care about is that they left their post.  If they mention why they left, it should only be worse for them.”

“You know, at first I didn’t like the idea of having to distract the guards and do all those things; I was glad when it was over; but it was also fun while I was doing it.”

“Ah, maybe you’re beginning to become more like the kind of woman I like.”

“Oh, I hope not.”  She thought for a moment, then said, “Why did you kiss me yesterday?”

“Because you’re irresistible even to me.”

“I am?  I didn’t know I was irresistible to anyone.”

“Are you blind to your own beauty, girl?  Or just overly modest?”

“Why do you always cut me down?  Why are you always so abusive to me with words?”

“Because you have such ridiculous ideas–compassion, brotherly love, not expecting payment from someone who’s borrowed money from you.”

“They aren’t such ridiculous ideas.  Just think about them sometime.”

“I don’t want to be nauseated.”

Ocsabia bent over in her chair, covered her face with her hands, and sobbed.

“Oh, don’t cry,” Alkin said.  “I was just beginning to admire your spirit.”  She continued to sob, so he got up out of his chair and knelt beside her.  “I can’t stand to see a woman cry.  Fight it.  Then we can have more spirited conversation.”

“Don’t mock me.  Go away.”

“You realize you won’t be so desirable with puffy, red eyes?”

“Then I must continue to cry.”

“I don’t understand you, Ocsabia.  You don’t want men to lust after you and you only want to do good and pure things.  I don’t understand myself, either.  I desire you even though you’re like that.”

“Maybe you just want what you can’t have.  Or maybe you actually want to be like me, you see in me what you’re not.”

“Why?  Why can’t I have you?”

Ocsabia stopped crying and looked up at him.

“Because you’re not the kind of man I want to marry.  Such a man is kind, gentle, a believer, and my own age, like–like Hifary.”

“Hifary?  Do you really like Hifary?”

“Yes.”

“But I’m a man and he’s just a boy.”

“Do you think being a man means cutting down other people just because they believe differently than you do?”

“I was right, you do have spirit.”  He stood up and turned away.  He tried to keep his voice steady.  “Leave me.”

Ocsabia had no wish to stay, so she wiped her eyes and left.  Alkin’s fondness for her helped her influence his opinions, so he contemplated her words for hours afterwards, and began to wonder if she was right.  Or had this girl so bewitched him with her beauty that he was willing to believe the way she did?

******

Alkin, a prominent member of society, would rouse suspicion if he declined invitations to travel with his friends so he could help the resistance at home.  When a group of friends asked him along on a month-long trip to the tropics, he had to accept.

He visited Ocsabia to tell her this.  At first she didn’t want to let him in, but he said he had to talk to her.  She led him into the atrium, and he said, “I thought about the things you said the other day.”

“And you agree with me now?” Ocsabia said.

“I didn’t say that, I just said I thought about what you said.”  He smiled.  “And that’s a start, isn’t it?”

He was sincere, but the reason he admitted this was so Ocsabia would consider opening a space in her heart for him.  It worked, though he didn’t know it.  “I’m leaving for a month with a group of friends,” he said.  “I want you to come with me.”

“Come with you?  How could I come with you?  Are there any girls in the group?”

“No.”

“Then I can’t come.  It wouldn’t look right.”

“Then marry me.”

“No.  I don’t love you.”

This so frustrated him that he couldn’t control his voice very well.  “Then stay here,” he said, turning away.  He pondered for a moment, nearly despairing of convincing her.

An idea came to him, and with it a glimmer of hope.  He turned to her.  “Maybe this will change your mind,” he said, and kissed her as persuasively as he could.  When he released her, she said,

“I’ve never known of anyone who truly fell in love just because of a kiss.”

Alkin realized that if he managed to seduce her she would have to marry him, since her moral code demanded it.  They’d argued abut that part of the code before.

He kissed her again, lustfully this time, and simultaneously unbuttoned the back of her headdress and pushed aside part of the neck to expose her skin.  He then kissed her neck.  She immediately pushed him away.

“Whatever you were thinking of doing, it won’t work, either, so please leave.”

He could find his own way out.  He turned in a huff and left.  Ocsabia stared in the direction in which he’d gone, and said, “Good riddance–and good-bye.”

She didn’t really know why she said “good-bye.”  If only she could ask her heart.  It had to know more than she did about the whole situation.  Why did she long for more of Alkin’s kisses and feel repulsed by them at the same time?

During the next month, she dated Hifary, as usual, and she grew quite fond of him.  Near the end of the month he asked her to marry him.  She told him she couldn’t, her feelings were too mixed up.

“This may be hard for you to believe,” she said, “but I’m sure I’m in love with either you or Alkin.”

“Alkin?  How could you love Alkin?” Hifary said.  “You two are always fighting.  You’ve always been enemies.  He’s also an unbeliever.”

“I know.  It’s hard even for me to believe.  Maybe it’s not even true.  Maybe I love you.  I’ve got to be alone for a while so I can sort this out.”

Also during that month, Alkin tried to console himself with wine, food, women and luxury, but all of these things left him unsatisfied.  He was sure he loved Ocsabia, and she was all he wanted.  In desperation he cried out to her God.

“If you’re real, show me,” he said.  “If you make Ocsabia fall in love with me, I’ll serve you for the rest of my life.”

*****

At a meeting the night before Alkin was to come home, Morcub said, “I think the authorities have become suspicious.  I saw two soldiers watching my house today.  Perhaps the neighbors have heard us.  We’ll have to be extremely careful.”

*****

The next day, Ocsabia expected Alkin to come home, since it was the end of the month.  It seemed that she longed for him to come home.  She watched from her windows until she saw him.

As soon as she saw his roommate greet him and him go in his house, she opened her door on an impulse and ran over to his house.  She knocked on the door; the roommate opened it, and, having been told many times before by Alkin of his disagreements with her, looked at her with wide eyes and raised eyebrows.

“Baferiub, I’d like to see Alkin,” she said.

“Certainly, Ocsabia,” he said, causing Alkin to spin around and stare at the door.  Baferiub stepped aside to let Ocsabia enter.  She hurried in to Alkin, and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.  In a few moments, Alkin haltingly put his arms around her.  When she ended the kiss, he said,

“Ocsabia, what a pleasant surprise.  Your God is real, I know that now.  He answered my prayer.”

“He did?” she said.  “How?”

“I’ll tell you later.–Baferiub, would you please leave us alone for a moment?–Look, I’m sorry about all those disagreements with you.  You may be right about some things.  I’m also sorry I tried to seduce you a month ago.  I was trying to force you into marrying me by making you do something that would demand it, according to your moral code.  Now will you marry me?”

“Yes, I will.”

They set the date for a year from then, and Ocsabia told Hifary as gently as she could.  He told her that a year might be long enough for him to get over her.  He wished them happiness as soon as Alkin became a believer.  That issue had bothered him, as he knew of situations when a believer married an unbeliever and it didn’t work out very well.

The next time they had a meeting, which was a week later, Rokan soldiers listened at the door for incriminating conversation, then burst into the house and arrested everyone.

The little group wasn’t even tried, just put into a concentration camp.  Fashion was forgotten as their clothes were taken away and replaced with prison suits, which were pants, a shirt, and sandals, plus a cloth for Ocsabia to wrap around her body as a sort of primitive corset.

This was the only part of the prison suit that looked fashionable, but the group soon forgot about such things, and thought of fashion as trivial.  What really mattered was survival–a difficult thing.

They had little food, and almost starved.  Their taskmasters put them to work around the camp, every day of the week, all day long.  Their one relief: enough sleep.

However, the beds were hard, and barracks hot or cold, depending on the weather.  All they had to heat the barracks was one brazier each.

During the evening meal, Ocsabia could finally join Alkin and the rest of the group.  Afterwards, she and Alkin would walk around the non-restricted areas of the camp.

“Will we ever get out of here?” she said one evening about two and a half years after they arrived.

“Perhaps when that tyrant Kaebar dies or is deposed,” Alkin said.

“I wonder what they did with my birds?  Did they give them to someone, or are they dying in their cages in my house?  I know it’s a bit morbid….”

Alkin lowered his voice.  “I may soon find out for you, and if they’re dead, I can bury them.”

“Why, what do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m going to try to escape.  If God wills it, I will.  I want to start another resistance group.  I’d take you with me, but it’s too dangerous.”

The next evening, about the same time, he said good-bye to Ocsabia.  That night, when everyone was supposed to stay in the barracks, Ocsabia woke to the sound of Rokan canines woofing and guards yelling.

Alkin, she thought, it must be Alkin.  Soon after she heard a man scream.  She drew her blanket over her nose and mouth and sobbed into it.

During role call the next morning, the commandant said, “There was an escape attempt last night.  A prisoner tried to go over the wire.  But our guards got him with the sword.  You may bury him yourself as a lesson to you: attempting to escape is useless.”

Hifary provided Ocsabia with a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen to her voice her emotions, but didn’t give her advice or say it would get better.  He knew better than to say that to her; what she needed was a listener, not an adviser.

And he didn’t do this to get her to fall in love with him, nor did he rejoice over Alkin’s death.  He still loved Ocsabia, and did this out of the tenderness of his heart for her.  He had no ulterior motive.  Also, he grieved over the loss of one who’d become a good, respected friend since his conversion.

About two years later, as they went on one of their now-customary walks and discussed Hifary’s plans to go to many cities and countries as an apostle, if God willed him to, he halted.  Ocsabia, whose arm was intertwined with his, immediately stopped also.

“What is it?” she said.

“I must tell you something, but it’s terribly difficult, especially considering the life I’m called to lead.”

“What do you want to say?”

He hesitated.

“If you go ahead and say it, it’ll be much easier for you to do.”

“All right, Ocsabia.  I love you. I’ve never stopped.  I prayed I would while you were engaged, and then I tried to suppress it after Alkin died so you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around me and I wouldn’t try to force you to love me back.  But it’s only grown stronger.  You also might not want to be an apostle’s wife.  It’s a hard life, whether you come along or stay home alone.”

“It sounds challenging.  And I’d be serving God–and probably loving it.”

“You would?  Then will you marry me?  Oh, I should first ask you if you love me–”

“Yes to both questions.  Not that I’ve forgotten Alkin.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to be alone for the rest of my life, especially if I marry such a dear friend of his as you.”

She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him.  As she began to straighten her back again and her head moved away from his neck, in that split-second Hifary kissed her.

After five years in the concentration camp, a new resistance group deposed Kaebar, and put one of their own in his place.

During the fourteen-day celebration, Hifary and Ocsabia decided to celebrate in an additional way by marrying immediately, on the fifth day so they’d have time to prepare.

Ocsabia accompanied Hifary on his travels, and he wrote letters to the Rokans, Corinzians, Cafasians, Egebians, Gifidians, Cofothians, Zebafonians, and others.

 

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