“The Meeting”

He walked boldly. But not too boldly; he didn’t want to seem suspicious.

He walked a little less boldly. But not too little; he didn’t want to look guilty. 

He walked casually. As casual as possible, anyway.

It was agonizing to pretend to be innocent when in fact he was breaking the law. The Russian Communist law, not God’s law. God’s law encouraged what he was about to do, but the Russian law declared this act was punishable by torture and death. It was considered treason to the Communist government. It was one of the worst crimes a man could commit in that country.

He was going to a church meeting. A meeting with the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in the small town of Shali. The meeting place was set to be at his brother’s house at four thirty in the evening. He was expected to walk in the front door at four nineteen. It was four sixteen as he rounded the corner of the small neighborhood and began walking down the street his brother lived on.

He slowed, squinting into the distance. Was that a figure walking towards him? Yes, it was Brother Tomek, just entering the house. Brother Tomek must be a few minutes late, he thought. He bent down and slowly began re-tying his shoes. They didn’t need re-tying, but he needed to give some time between Brother Tomek entering the house and himself entering the house. He stood up, brushed off his pants, jacket, coat, and hat and began strolling forward again. Not too boldly, not too timidly.

He entered the house at precisely four nineteen.

“Evening, Comrade,” came a voice from the dining room.

“Evening, Brother Stefan,” he replied. They had made this signal to be warned of who had walked in. If they were not supposed to be in the meeting, they would have answered in the same Communist manner, “Evening, Comrade.”

“Downstairs. Everyone here except Brother Zigor and Sister Calina,” the voice said.

He walked through the kitchen and out the back door. He opened the secret hatch covered with grass and climbed down the ladder into the dimly lit room. A chorus of “Evening, Brother Alek,” greeted him as he pulled the hatch closed again.

“Did you make it here fine?” Alek’s real brother, Fyodor, asked, clapping him on the back.

“Just fine. Met no one on the street until I saw Old Misha. And then I had to stall for a moment while Brother Tomek walked inside,” Alek replied, taking off his scarf and laying it on the table.

“That was my fault. My wife didn’t want me to come and had me doing every chore imaginable until I realized I was going to be late,” Brother Tomek said. There was a small chuckle that went around the room. It felt nice. People rarely chuckled these days, and no one ever dared to laugh out loud.

The hatch opened and in crawled the preacher of their small church, Brother Zigor, his wife, Sister Calina, and Brother Stefan.

“Alright. The five-minute timer begins now,” Stefan said after pulling the hatch closed, looking at his watch.

“Brother Konstantin’s house was broken into last night. The burglars found pieces of paper with bible verses and sermon notes left by those who met there earlier. They are no longer safe, and the people who met there need another place to stay,” Brother Zigor began. His eyes looked tired, and he leaned heavily upon the center table.

“Some of the people can meet at my house, but not more than half,” Brother Tomek said. “My wife gets nervous when we have more than five people in the house.”

“Thank you, Brother Tomek.”

“We can take the rest,” Fyodor said. “Evelina and I could host the other five.”

“Thank you, Brother Fyodor.”

“Will Brother Konstantin and his family find refuge in the country somewhere?” Alek asked.

“His family is going to the country, but he fears that he will attract the attention of the secret police and get them all thrown in jail. He is staying in an abandoned house outside of town, but he believes they will eventually find him. He just wants his family to be safe,” Brother Zigor said.

“We must keep him in our prayers,” Brother Stefan said. “Pray that he remains faithful to the Lord even when it gets hard.”

“Amen,” Sister Calina whispered. 

It was silent for a moment. They were all thinking the same thing: what was jail like? Finally, Brother Tomek decided to ask the question aloud. 

“From what I have heard, they torture whoever they believe is Christian to get names of other Christians and the leaders of the church. Then they either release the tortured, weak soul, or they kill them in mass killings. It is not good either way,” Brother Zigor said. 

“We must hope that Brother Konstantin remains strong in the faith, protecting his brothers and sisters in Christ from the secret police,” Brother Tomek said. 

“Yes, all we can do is pray,” Brother Zigor said. 

“We must make a promise to each other right now,” Brother Fyodor said. “A promise saying we will not name anyone if we are caught.”

“We must act innocent if we are caught, but the most important thing is to keep the others’ names a secret,” Brother Stefan said.

“And if you happen to witness a Brother taken, do not show any remorse. Show no sign of recognition, and above all do not get involved in any way,” Brother Zigor said. 

“Because that is how they catch you. They act like they don’t notice when you react to the arrest, but in reality they do,” Alek said. 

The others nodded. 

“As sad as it is to think about it, one, or maybe more of us, will be arrested eventually. It is good that we have talked these things out,” Brother Zigor said. 

“We must break now,” Brother Stefan said. They went out in three minute intervals to keep the secret police off their trail. Alek was the last one to leave. 

“Do you really think some of us will eventually be arrested?” Alek asked his brother. 

“It is very possible. Very few church leaders live their whole career without being taken by the secret police. We just have to remember the plan. No recognition, no remorse, no getting involved,” Fyodor said. 

“Easier said than done,” Alek said. 

“It is for the good of the rest of the congregation and the church leaders,” Fyodor said. “Remember that. No matter how hard it is, we must think of the good of the others.”

Alek nodded, said goodbye, and slipped out the back door. His mind was spinning as he began walking down the street, taking a different route this time. What if someone in their church was taken? Would they be able to keep the secret, or would they confess and put others in danger? And what about the leaders? What if he was caught? Would he be able to withstand the torture? Would he remain faithful to the Lord? What if another leader was caught? What would he do?

These thoughts twirled around his head as he walked down the street, passing only two ladies walking very quickly down the opposite side, scarfs fluttering in the crisp October wind. That’s when he remembered that he’d left his scarf back at Fyodor’s house. He stopped, trying to decide if it was safe to go back so soon, and then decided it was. 

He began walking back to the house, still thinking of the conversations they’d had. He rounded the corner, and his heart stopped. Two men were dragging the struggling Fyodor out of his house and loading him into a car. A third man was holding back Evelina, Fyodor’s wife, from running to get him. Eventually he just gave up and hit her in the head. She crumpled into the street. 

The two women he’d seen pass by him were talking together near the house. One of them went up to the third man. He gave her some money out of his pocket. The women met back up, dividing the money. 

Alek began walking towards the men, where Fyodor was still struggling. Then Alek noticed the women watching him and remembered the conversation of the evening. “No recognition, no remorse, no getting involved,” Fyodor had said. Frustrated tears welled up in his eyes. 

For a moment, Fyodor had gotten himself turned around and was now facing Alek. Fyodor looked sadly at Alek, and Alek knew exactly what was meant by that look.

Alek turned around and walked down the street, wiping away tears. 

He walked boldly. But not too boldly; he didn’t want to seem suspicious.

He walked a little less boldly. But not too little; he didn’t want to look guilty. 

He walked casually. As casual as possible, anyway.


I had to do this short story for a school assignment because I’ve been learning about the Cold War and the U.S.S.R. Do you think it ends too sadly? When my sister read it, she remarked, “Wait, that’s the end?” Yes, it is the end, because for so many Christians in communist Russia it was the end. Just trying to keep it realistic, y’all.

Anyway, sorry I didn’t post last week. I had an idea for a blog post and then I trashed the idea Thursday evening because I didn’t like it, so … yeah. But now we’re back on schedule so it will be fine.

And I have some exciting news. I finished the first draft of In Wildcat Hollow on Saturday! I’m so happy y’all! I’ve worked so hard on the first draft since quarantine started, and now something has come out of it! Happy day, y’all!

I will wait 4 weeks to look at In Wildcat Hollow again, just to see it with fresh eyes. Until then I will be writing multiple short stories and posting them here over the next couple of months, so look forward to that.

Anyway, that’s all. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Love from the Library,


Oo, one more announcement! While I was trashing last weeks blog post idea I began an instagram account for my writing. I would love to collaborate on that platform too, and if you want to follow me, my account is @ari_d._author. Thanks!