As much as I appreciate gushing, unconditional praise, I would also appreciate kind, patient, constructive criticism and suggestions to guide and improve my writing.
It was a small waterfall that poured down the rock face, tall enough only to conceal a small cave behind that one could fit inside, if she didn’t mind getting wet. A pond pooled below it, letting out through a stream that gently turned this way and that, snaking past where the trees let allowed guests in these woods to see. It was a spot largely untouched by civilization, but the faintest of trails revealed that some knew of the retreat.
Lightweight shoes sat in the shade as she danced; she much preferred the feel of the slightly wet grass on her bare feet as they stepped rhythmically, with purpose and repetition. A slender frame did little to reveal the poise and dexterity of a girl, no longer a child but short of her looming maturity, praising the Lord with her own personal temple near that waterfall. She adorned herself with a skirt of many cool colors suited to her movements, flaring and flashing about with blues and purples in complement of her dance.
In the cool of the day, she enjoyed an apple before replacing her shoes and walking back down the faint path she has traveled from. Approaching a bridge, she was confronted by an impatient looking boy. His face scowled, partially veiled by his unkempt hair. “Parisa, you just about missed supper! Again!”
“I’m sorry. I brought something to eat, so I’m okay!”
“It’s not just about you having food, we’re supposed to be together! To have time as family to talk and bond and whatever else. And it’s Saturday! We eat with the others on Saturday! You know that! Do you realize how upset mom and dad get when you’re out like this?”
“I’m sorry, Leonard. I’ll make it up to you.”
“How? By dancing or something? Save it for someone who’d appreciate it, like Joshuel. Or maybe he’d like to hear your secret…”
Parisa looked annoyed. “You wouldn’t!”
“Maybe I would if it would keep you from worrying our parents. There are snakes and stuff out there!”
“Alright! Alright! I’ll make sure not to be out alone so much!” And with that, she followed her younger brother over the bridge to a large building.
Inside, she came to the table as a young man smiled at her, pulling out a seat. He was not as much older than her as Reuben, but he was a tall and a solidly-built man with short, disciplined hair. He appeared far different from her short, delicate body and long, untamed hair, save for being thrown into one massive ponytail, but she felt quite comfortable with him around.
After grace, the three families seated at the large table began a simple meal of soup and plenty of bread. Besides the tall boy, Parisa sat with her parents and younger brother and sister. Two other families sat across the table. At the ends were two older men, one dressed cleanly like a religious figure and one quite a bit rougher looking.
The former spoke to the rough man. “Br. Valdez, how have their martial arts come along this week?”
“Reuben and Joshuel have progressed great as usual, but they’ve been butting heads a little lately.” The tall boy with Parisa, and a young man across the table from him, both lowered their heads somewhat with shame.
“Leonard has been slowly picking up some of the techniques, making good progress.”
Parisa’s brother held his head up high and spoke. “One day I’ll take over as head of the dojo!”
Br. Valdez gave him a skeptical look. “I don’t mean to hurt your self-esteem or anything, but you’ll probably never be as ruthless as Reuben or hit as hard as Joshuel.” This time, Leonard looked down while the older boys smirked.
The elder spoke again. “Yes. Reuben and Joshuel are like a dragon and a tiger. Parisa, it’s true that they’ve been teaching you some, isn’t it?”
Before she could speak, Leonard interrupted. “She mostly plays with a long stick. She must want to be a pole dancer.”
Valdez looked displeased with him. “Don’t make her embarrass you, Leo. You’re not showing a good attitude, as a disciple of the Savior OR a martial artist. Your belt is fixing to be white.” The boy was silent the rest of the evening as the elder spoke.
“Sister Laberrè, how is sewing coming along?”
“Very nicely. Leah is such a sweetie with helping Parisa and Tamar learn more advanced patterns.” The woman motioned to her daughter, a shy looking woman with braided hair.
Brother Valdez then asked the elder, “Are they learnin’ much, Anderson?”
“Parisa’s just about set to graduate, Leonard and Mia are doing fine. Luke and Jake struggle a little, but Leah sometimes tutors them. Jenna is doing well.”
“Parisa’s graduating? Didn’t she have another year?”
Elder Anderson smiled. “She’s progressed quite nicely, she’ll be ready by beginning of Spring.”
The elder then turned to Parisa’s father. “Brother Pahlavi, how do things look in surrounding communities?” He looked somewhat grim.
“Whatever’s behind the propaganda against us is intensifying their efforts. Tract after tract telling things that aren’t true or are missing context. ‘Deseret cult losing children to burnt sacrifices.’ ‘priests consume man’s blood in gruesome ritual.’ It’s not only affecting how others respond to our message, but to us personally.”
Elder Anderson closed his eyes for a moment or two, perhaps even a couple of minutes, before speaking again. “Well… I think I’ll have a solution for that tomorrow. I’ll go over it during Sunday School.”
Dinner continued without real surprise or devation. With the stars shining clearly outside, the close knit people of Deseret prepared for sleep. Parisa was visiting with Joshuel before going home to her bed, the two alone in his room. It was a small room on the second floor, above the dojo. “So you’re not leaving? That’s what most of the older people have done.”
“No, I like it here. All I want is to keep training under Br. Valdez and learning about power from Elder Anderson.
“Power? You mean the Gospel?”
“Yes, power. He talks about Priesthood power, and authority from God. If I had enough power, I could live out peacefully doing whatever I want indefinitely. Hitting things and moving heavy things will only give me so much power.”
“Hm… I don’t know if I’m that interested in power, but the scriptures keep telling me I need to love not just other people, but everything.” She was startled by loud, sudden snorting in the room next door. The two chuckled some.
“Even Br. Valdez’s snoring?”
“I guess so, yeah.”
“What about if you get hurt, or sick?”
“Well, I don’t know…”
After a moment of silence together, they stood up.
“Parisa… You’re going to be sixteen in a few weeks.”
“Y-yeah…” Both wanting to speak, neither speaking any further, they looked into each other. Parisa felt her heart beating faster. She began to feel wet in her groin. She registered it only as it trickled down her leg some, prompting her to hide it by pressing her legs together. The two broke it off before getting anymore heated, bidding good night as Parisa walked down the stairs and outside.
She left partly out of decency, but partly because she realized she had peed in her panties. In the dark, she was stopped by a boy closer to her age. “You were visiting Joshuel at night again?”
“Oh! Saul! Yes, I was. Why are you out here?” Thankfully, he probably couldn’t see what she had done due to the dark.
“Well… We’re both gonna be sixteen soon, um… Wi-will you marry me?” She wasn’t surprised; Reuben’s younger brother had shown interest in her for as long as she could remember. “I-I know you spend a lot of time with Joshuel, but, um, we’ve known each other for a long time and he just popped up one day. So if, uh, you aren’t sure about him…”
She leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. “Saul, you’ve been a good friend to me. I’ll need to think about your offer, okay?” He smiled a little and nodded, running back to his house.
In her room, Parisa removed the dandelion-adorned barrette and let down her hair, brushing it out before closing her door. Quietly, she pulled out a bag from under her bed. Inside was a package, resembling that of baby diapers. Instead of a baby, however, they depicted a young teenage girl sleeping. She pulled out one sized for her nearly-adolescent hips and set it open on the bed before pulling off her skirt, her wet maillot, wet leggings, and wet panties. She laid on the diaper, securing it to herself with an expertise and efficiency suggesting years of experience, then quickly hid the remaining briefs under her bed. Her secret, aforementioned by her brother: She is nearly a sixteen year old bed-wetter. An unsolved stain on her grace and strength and a dancer, as well as her image as a nubile young woman. After finishing, she let her nightgown drape over her secret before going back out to clean her teeth. As her parents beckoned, she came to pray together as a family, as they did every night. In good spirits, they shuffled out of the room toward their own beds.
Little Mia spoke out as they separated.
“I don’t want to keep wearing diapers at night. I’m not a baby!”
Their mother answered sympathetically. “Don’t worry Mia, you’ll grow out of it one day.”
Parisa rolled her eyes. “‘One day’? You mean when I’m twenty-five or something? At this rate I’m gonna diaper my first baby at night while my husband diapers me!”
“I know, I know, just give it time.”
As everyone went to bed, the mother and father sat together on their bed. The father spoke up. “So when are you going to tell them?”
“Tell them what?” She asked as she laid down on her back.
Br. Pahlavi pulled out a package of diapers much like Parisa’s, and began to put one on his wife. “If there is a ‘one day’, it hasn’t come for you yet.”
“My mother, my sisters, me, my daughters… What’s with the girls in my family?” She asked to no one in particular.
In another home, Saul was on the floor, hammering out pushups as Reid watched impatiently. “You’re just going to keep yourself awake. Give it up! You can’t beat Joshuel. Give Mia a few years, she looks a lot like Parisa did at her age.”
“I… Can’t… Give… Up!” Saul let himself lay face-down, breathing heavily. “What does he have that I don’t, anyway?”
“Well, he’s not even twenty but he’s the tallest guy here. He’s probably going to squat four digits one day. He isn’t awkward or overbearing like you are.”
“Isn’t awkward? Do you even remember what he was like? What was it, two years now? Three? He was just there, sitting in the woods like an idiot.”
“Yeah, he almost knocked out Br. Valdez. Yohan had to do some weird exorcism and he was just fine.”
“But he was weird! Why does she like him?”
“I know, Saul. You feel like he isn’t ‘one of us’, right? There’s something wrong with him, something different. He just popped in and took your girl.”
“You feel the same, don’t you?” Reuben only pat his brother on the should before leaving him.
“Get up!” Parisa jumped up in bed as Sis. Pahlavi called to her. “We’re ready to go and you haven’t even gotten out of bed this whole time?! Are you fifteen or are you five?” The teen sprang into hurried action, throwing off her gown and stepping right into her Sunday dress. It took her not even a whole minute to get her hair right. The rest of her family was stepping out the door as she shoved some dry cereal into her mouth and drank it down with a cup of milk. It was halfway through their short walk, after calming down some, that she realized she was still wearing her wet diaper under her dress. She contemplated going back to change into panties, but decided not to upset her parents further.
Every Sunday, the community met inside a meetinghouse, within which was a chapel. Parisa’s hair was down but neat, with only a sego lily tucked into the side. She had traded her white one-piece and showy skirt for a dress, with lace along the bottom to circle her legs. In fact, everyone was dressed with their best clothes-men and boys sporting button-up shirts with coats and long pants, while women and girls toted either bright dresses or conservative skirts.
Each family sat in a separate pew, while Joshuel sat with Br. Valdez and a man with long, blond hair tied together. The service was straightforward; a hymn and a prayer as Elder Anderson presides.
"We now have the opportunity, as we do each week on the Sabbath day, to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of our Lord and Savior. We follow His example, and wish to be with Him and like Him one our worldly trials are over.” After another hymn and prayer, the congregation took small morsels of bread and sips of water.
Although the focus of this sacrament is on the Savior’s life and teachings, Parisa’s main focus was on the cool, clammy garment bunched under her bottom and between her legs. Instead of asking for forgiveness or help to love others, she was asking in her mind questions such as ‘Can anyone smell me?’, ‘How far forward can I bend before it’s seen?’, ‘I’m not the only teenage girl whose ever worn a diaper in church, am I?’, and ‘I didn’t pee when I woke up, I really need to go, and I can’t leave yet. Will it leak if I just pee right now?’
As the meeting ended, they left the chapel to different Sunday School classrooms. The men and boys attended one, while the women and girls another. As a bursting Parisa rounded the corner, Joshuel came from the other direction, and the two collided and apologized to one another. Parisa, however, was now flat on her bottom, quickly pulling her legs together to prevent a show, completely soaking an already wet diaper, in church, in front of her boyfriend. She wasn’t sure if it was her face or if she didn’t close her legs enough, but she must’ve revealed that something was up, because Joshuel asked her with concern, “Sorry again, is something wrong?”
“Oh, uh… N-no, I’m fine, sorry.” She brushed down her dress, as if it weren’t already hanging down.
“Hey, Elder Anderson said that he wants to see some of us after Church today.”
“Okay. Did he say what it was about?”
“He’d only say that it was a good opportunity.”
After another hour or so, Elder Anderson met with Parisa, Joshuel, Reuben, and Leah in his office. Try as she might, Parisa could not avoid making the smallest “squorsh” noise as she sat down, though no one seemed to notice.
“Well may youth, my fine youth, graduates of education, learners of skills, how is your day so far?” There were merely nods, and one or two quiet answers of ‘good’.
“Now, do you remember the discussion we had last night? When it came to information going around about us that wasn’t true? What do you propose we do?”
After some silent thought, Leah spoke up. “Shall we bake bread or cookies and take them to town?”
Reuben joked next. “We find who’s writing it and break his fingers!”
The elder tilted his glasses up. “I went to the Lord with this very question, and you know what He told me? He says it’s time for younger, less experienced, less stubborn, more dedicated ‘missionaries’ to carry His Spirit to them.”
Leah looked worried. “What does that mean?”
“It means that we’re going to prepare you to take the Gospel to Salem, to Alphus, and perhaps even more places. This, of course, is entirely dependent on your willingness to serve the Lord.” The four looked at one another.
“I want you to think about it and pray about it this week. This coming Sunday, I want you to fast before giving it a final thought. If it seems like something you should do, come tell me.”
Reuben spoke up, “So you’ve spent a lot of time helping to teach us and care for us. Like, you’ve helped build things and grow food and stuff. I get that. We owe you. But how can we trust you to just throw us out like this?”
Anderson furrowed his brow in concern. “Reuben, I’m not throwing your out. Nothing like that. For starters, remember that I said it is all up to you. Furthermore, it’s not for me. Things around here will only be more work if you leave! This is to bring the blessings you’ve enjoyed to others in the world. Reuben seemed to calm down as he continued. “Not just to people who may investigate or join the Church, but to uplift other wards and branches. So I want you to consider it for yourselves, without just trusting what I’m telling you. Ask the Lord yourselves in prayer. Fair?” The four nodded.
A little later in the day, Joshuel sat by a tree outside. In a meditative pose, he held a stone in his open hands. Leah wandered out toward him, a few large sticks in her arms. “Joshuel? Are you okay?”
“That’s good. What are you doing?”
“Well… In Sunday School, they talked about how God respects agency, and doesn’t force anyone to do anything. I was also told that ‘the most persuasive thing in the world is love…’
“… So, I figure if I can’t force this rock to move with my mind or my will, then maybe I can persuade it to move by helping it feel like I love it.”
“That’s so smart!.. Is it working?”
“No, no it’s not.” Joshuel stood up and dropped the rock. “Are you gathering wood? I’ll help.”
Reuben approached them. “Help? You talk to rocks-no, you think to rocks, and expect them to move. Thinking that you love sticks isn’t going to gather them up to burn. I’ll help you out, Leah.” Joshuel didn’t respond as the two walked further into the woods, following to help gather regardless.
Leah looked about cautiously as they walked.
“The path is overgrown…”
“I don’t think anyone comes this way, anymore.” The canopy was getting thicker than in more familiar parts of the forest, contributing to the darkness of twilight setting in. The abundance of loose wood lying around was accompanied with an increasing uneasiness in the party. They could hear the chattering and sneaking of animals, likely cautious of their visitors. The three almost turned around when they found Parisa, looking off at nothing in particular.
“Parisa? Do you see something?”
“I feel something… Like, there’s something important near here. But I also feel anxious…” The boys became alert and put up their guard. They met low, animalistic eyes nearby. They stared at each other until Leah screamed. Looking to the side, they saw two wolves rush in from the side, while the one they had been watching rushed out from under the brush.
Parisa had her pole with her and Reuben drew a sword. Leah took the longest stick she had been holding and held it up like a spear, though terrified. Still empty-handed, Joshuel looked to Parisa. “You feel confident with that?”
“I-I think so, do you want it?”
“No, keep it.”
A wolf leaped at Leah. Without thinking about it, Reuben carved down its body in one motion. Another bit at him, but he held it at bay until Joshuel’s roundhouse knocked it back with an audible cracking sound. Josh then darted over to Parisa while Leah rushed up and plunged her stick into the broken beast’s face repeatedly, as hard as she could.
Parisa kept out of the last wolf’s range, but was having trouble injuring it or scaring it away. She was able to put out its eyes, which make things easier for a moment. With a brave leap, it pulled her staff down and pounced her, throwing her onto her back. Immediately, Joshuel reached around the creature’s neck from behind and wrestled it off of her. He held it in one place until Reuben’s blade plunged through its heart, ending the threat.
Joshuel helped Parisa up while Reuben calmed Leah down.
“Reuben, my leg is bleeding, my leg…” Leah looked down to find where her leg was bleeding from, but found no blood. She had merely wet herself during her fright and exertion. Parisa dusted herself off while Reuben cleaned off his weapon. Having had enough for one day, they hurried back to the village.
At her house, Parisa couldn’t find any notable injuries on herself or her friends, and they sat at a table with some fruit.
“There IS something there! I could feel it! Like something was calling for me, beckoning me to discover it!”
Leah looked at her skeptically. “Even so, it’s not safe to just wander out into the woods like that.”
“Well, that’s where you all come in. I need some bodyguards to help me figure it out.”
Reuben laughed. “What if we don’t?”
“Then you’ll be letting a poor, delicate little girl at the mercy of cruel, loveless nature.”
The man rolled his eyes. “Not even I can let that happen…” He almost joked. “But what’s our payment?”
“Well, yeah. Bodyguards don’t work for free. What’s in it for us?”
“Well… Ah… What do you charge?”
“Two Senum, and that’s a discount.”
“What?? I don’t have that!” Joshuel reassured her.
“I’ll do it for a dance. A special one.” Parisa began to blush some, with Reuben and Leah listening.
Leah added, “I’ll help if you make me a sheet of brownies.”
Reuben gave a sigh. “… Eight pence. You’ve got to have that much.”
Parisa looked at her friends and considered for a moment, twisting a bit of her hair around her finger. After some thought, she put her hand out. “Okay, we’re in. Tomorrow morning?” The others smiled and put their hands with hers, before they threw them up in a cheer.