Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Names: Kelli Newby and Mary Ann Marlowe
Mentee Name: A. S. Behsam
Title: COUP DE GRACE
Genre: Speculative Fiction with LGBT romantic elements #ownvoices Iranian
Word Count: 83,000 words
Fleeing Iran with only his poetry book, reclusive Arash resolves to survive the world war—preferably alone. However, in the refugee camps of Nairosia, French-Russian Vitaliy charms Arash into joining his adopted multinational family. Now, on a desperate scramble toward safety, Arash carries a burden he never wanted: People he’d die for.
The first time I truly appreciated my ability to shut up about my problems was the day I set foot out of the quarantine rooms in Camp Chapel, where almost everyone burst into tears the moment they were given IDs that did not include the name of their families and loved ones.
I understood. A lot of these guys had left their families, dead or living, behind to be able to save themselves—and well, their genes. I got it. But after listening to them whine and grovel day and night for two weeks, I couldn’t wait to separate ways. I mean, telling others about your problems doesn’t make them less real.
Camp Chapel reminded me a lot of a place back in Iran. The quarantine rooms were the old, abandoned houses of the rebuilt Chapel Village deeper in the valley. With their pale walls and green window frames, they looked like Uncle Reza’s house in Urmia, but they never felt the same.
Nothing ever did.
Before getting on the line on the frozen snow, I got some hot water for a cup of cocoa and saffron. I tried to focus on the burning sensation in my palms and the sweet scent—my way of trying to concentrate on today, rather than the past, or the nothing I might become when the war ended: Today I was Arash, twenty-three, standing in a line of young refugees who for all the world resembled my own miserable state.