ALO, MAMA? • by Elahe Nassr

And then, maybe you’ll think of me whenever you see the stars.” Shahrzad remembered when she closed her book and took off her glasses, looking at the ceiling lights. Her mother had told her this, thirty-nine years ago. Shahrzad had gotten forgetful in recent years, many of her memories no longer lingering in her mind. but somehow the memory of that day never left her. She remembered the exact date, or even every line of their conversation. It was September 26, a humid Monday, about midnight when she received the phone call. Her mother’s voice still rang in her ears.


“Shahrzad, darling, did I wake you up?”

“Alo, mama? Is that you? No, no it’s alright. How unusual of you to call at this hour! Is everything fine?”

“Oh yes, sweetheart. Everything’s just fine. Actually, I was about to go to bed. But then, I had a discovery! And… And I didn’t think I could wait till tomorrow to tell you about it!”

“A discovery?”

“Yes! Oh, I can’t believe how I had missed it all this time. I just discovered it tonight, right after I took my glasses off.”


“Oh, Shahrzad, I think this is a gift that life eventually gives to the old ones. Yes, I think that’s what it is.”

“Ma! Are you making up a riddle?”

“No, no. Listen, darling. I have the sky in my room! I can see the stars right above my head.”

“Ma, you’ve lost me. Are you sure you’re alright? Are the nurses still around?”

“Oh, darling, stop worrying about me. Listen, do you remember the last time you were here? That I told you my eyes were getting weaker?”

“Uh-huh, and what does that have to do with your discovery?”

“Oh, it has everything to do with it. Tonight, when I took off my glasses, the lights on the ceiling looked like tiny stars, as if they were really shining in the pitch-black sky. They looked eternal, and… and made my fears go away.”

“Uh, that’s beautiful, ma. But what are you afraid of?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I guess many things. Anyway, now I wish there were more lights in the room. That way maybe I could even find some constellations, you know. Your father loved it whenever I showed them to you. Remember?”

“Of course.”

“I won’t keep you up any longer, dear, you must be exhausted. Gosh, look at the time! It’s past midnight. Do you think you can come visit me any time soon, darling?”

“Yeah, sure. Maybe in a week or so. I’ll ask them if it’s possible to install more lights in your room.”

“Oh, that would be lovely.”

“And maybe we can watch the stars together when I’m there?”

“Oh, darling! It’s still too soon for you. Don’t worry, there’s no need to rush. You’ll be seeing them before long, you know, when you get to my age. And then, maybe you’ll think of me whenever you see the stars.”

Elahe Nassr is an independent writer/screenwriter and filmmaker based in Japan. She is the recipient of the 2018 Henry Fong Award, and she was selected as a participant in the 2019 Kyoto Filmmakers Lab – Masters Session. Her stories have been published in different literary journals such as White Enso, Sweetycat Press, and Kaidankai. She is also the writer and director of the short films Life as it is (2020), and Nozomi (2022). Elahe also researches literature and film induced tourism.

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Every Day Fiction