WeWriWa—Velira’s Birthday Wish

Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors, where participants share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m currently sharing from my current WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest, Chapter 39, “Velira’s Birthday Wish.” It’s September 1937 in Isfahan, Persia, and the niece of the orphanage co-director is turning three years old.

Velira hasn’t seen her father since he gave some of the orphanage children and workers phony travel visas to relocate in May, last saw her brother in April when her father split them up for safety, and is so young she doesn’t understand her mother is dead forever. Regardless, she’s going to wish to have her parents and her baby brother back with her.

Firuza is a neighbor who speaks fluent Russian, due to having worked as a nanny for a wealthy Russian family with a summer home by the Caspian Sea. After her summer employers fled to Bulgaria in the wake of the Revolution, she maintained the language with the then-respectably-sized White Russian émigré community in Persia.


“Tavalodat mobarak,” Firuza says as she sets the saffron, rosewater, cardamom, and pomegranate-flavored cake before Velira. “We didn’t put any candles on the cake, but you can pretend they’re there.  When it’s your birthday, you close your eyes and make a special wish.  But you can’t tell anyone what you wished for, or it won’t come true.”

“I can wish for anything I want?”

“Within reason,” Ínna says, full well knowing that a three-year-old doesn’t really understand the concept of reason. “You can’t very well wish for something like a million rubles or a pet elephant.  It has to be something you know you might get, like new clothes or nice friends.”

9 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Velira’s Birthday Wish

  1. This is both lovely and bittersweet. My heart breaks for her making this wish that can never come true. I hope she one day gets some of those pieces back, but life isn’t often so kind. A truly moving excerpt.


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