Open Mic Blog Hop

Today I’m taking part in the Open Mic Blog Hop, wherein participants post a video of themselves reading from a manuscript or WIP. I had my so-called fiancé shoot the video, and he had to do it over because the first time he tried it, he did it on an angle and didn’t realize that couldn’t be rotated once in iPhoto or QuickTime. Yeah, coming from the one who rudely complained about some of the videos I shot on my last Israel trip because I made the same mistake, assuming my videos would just shift angles instead of going on their side or upside-down!

Once again I’m spotlighting something from my current WIP, working title And Jakob Limped. It’s a YA historical (probably should query it as upper YA, since he ages from 14 to just shy of 21, and there are scenes of wartime violence and partisan-organized assassinations, along with some tasteful sex scenes to come), set between 1940-47. It primarily takes place in the Netherlands, but it later moves to the Dutch East Indies and eventually America. There’s going to be a short Epilogue set in Hebron, Israel, in the fall of 1981.

I’m very pleased with my decision to move Jakob and Rachel’s first meeting from April ’45 to October ’43, as it adds a whole new layer to the plot. I also moved their first proper meeting from April to May ’45, since it would make no sense for Jakob to be sent on some relief mission to the newly-liberated Westerbork right in the middle of very intense fighting the Princess Irene Brigade was at the forefront of. And after waiting so long to get into uniform, why would he want to take a break?

I’m also going to make it so that they actually get married before she leaves for America, but just a short civil ceremony. After all, I now realize it makes no sense for someone who’s just a fiancée of a member of the Allies Forces to get permission to immigrate on a ship primarily for wives and relatives of servicemen. The real religious, official ceremony will still be in late June ’46, and they’re still going to hold off on consummating the marriage till then (much to Rachel’s disappointment). Not so much because Jakob wants to wait till they have a ketubah (bill of religious marriage), without which a couple isn’t allowed to live together under traditional Jewish Law (halacha), but because he doesn’t want to risk fathering a child who could be orphaned, or at least spend his or her first few months without a father.

So this is their first meeting, taking place during Chapter 15, “Trading in His Shelter for Danger.” I hope I’m not mispronouncing or overpronouncing any of the Dutch names. I have very good German pronunciation, but Dutch is like a nasally version of German, and I haven’t had nearly so much practice with the Dutch language. Thank God Jakob doesn’t know Rachel’s name at this meeting, since I’m sure I’d butcher it. I’m told that most Dutch parents naming their daughters Rachel nowadays use the French or American pronunciation, since the traditional Dutch pronunciation is so hideous.

Jakob’s third mission was the second weekend in October, scouting the area near their fall encampment and if need be serving as a sniper.  Govert trailed behind him, and one of the older partisans went in front.  After this, Commander van der Beek had promised that he’d be allowed to go on missions all by himself when the opportunity arose.  Jakob was beside himself with pride when he thought of how far he’d come already, how he’d proven himself as a good partisan and calculating assassin.  He could bear waiting for the Dutch Free Forces to come home if it meant he’d continue to enjoy this respect and recognition among both peers and elders.

Little Ben, the puppy, tried to keep pace with him.  Ever since the puppy had come back with them last month, he’d been extremely attached to Jakob, and had appointed himself his personal guard dog.  Several of the partisans had suggested that he’d noticed Jakob’s limp, and was trying to protect him.  He did remember that once Luisa had told him that animals could feel a person’s pain and stay with an injured person for comfort.

As he was limping his way along the route on his map, he stopped in his tracks.  There, by the banks of a creek, he could hear a woman’s voice speaking some very familiar words, and in the vernacular, not the original Hebrew.

“’….who shall live and who shall die, who in the fullness of years and who before, who shall perish by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by earthquake and who by plague, who by strangulation and who by stoning, who shall have rest and who shall wander, who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued, who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented, who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low, who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.’”

“Someone’s watching us,” he heard another woman whisper.

“Oh, nonsense, Juli.  You’re just being paranoid because we’ve rarely gone into the open for over three years.  You act paranoid every Yom Kippur.  Let me enjoy leading what I can remember of the service.”

As he came closer, Ben ran ahead of him and began barking.  Jakob could see a young woman with very dark hair running away, frantically tying up her hair under a dark pink head covering as she ran.  Five other people, three men and two women, were hot on her heels.  A young woman with long curly blonde hair, glistening like cornsilk in the autumn sunshine, translucent blue orbs dangling from her ears, and very dark green eyes turned around to face him.  He disinterestedly took note of how beautiful she was.  A part of him wondered if she would’ve gone off with him had he been like Jeronymus.  Then he remembered he had to have a one-track mind and that even using a woman as a plaything for one night would be an inexcusable breach of the thick, high iron wall he’d put up around his heart.

“Would you care to explain what this is all about?” he asked, trying to sound gruff. “It seems to me that at least seven people are hiding in these parts.”

“My friends are scared of dogs.  I can’t wait to tell my friend Juli that she was scared by a little puppy.  That girl is so shy and timid, she’s practically scared of her own shadow.”

“You expect me to believe this story?  Six out of seven people are so scared of dogs they run away, and one of them covers her hair as she’s running?  I noticed you’re the only one with blonde hair.  That must be why you stayed.  You assumed you’d be safe and could pass for an Aryan.  And I know what you were saying.  It’s called U’Netaneh Tokef, though I’d never heard a woman reciting it before.”

She knelt down and picked Ben up, scratching him behind the ears. “That’s a detail a supposed Aryan Dutchman wouldn’t know.  Your secret is safe with me.  I don’t venture out very often anyway.  You’re probably freer than I am.  Sometimes Juli and I gather mushrooms or bathe in the river, but we’re mostly stuck inside.  Our other friends never go out, except sometimes our friend Solomon, who’s old enough to be our father.  He’s arranging things with someone on the outside for us to go to Liechtenstein next month.”

“And you assume that I’m of the same persuasion as you are.  Never assume anything, Juffrouw.  Under the occupation, you never know who’s a real friend and who’s an enemy who’s about to stab you in the back.”

She laughed as she set Ben down. “You talk a very good game, but I don’t believe your bluff.  Would you like me to pull down your pants so we can both see who’s telling the truth?”

He stood in silent horror as she skipped off laughing, her long blonde curls dancing in the breeze.  Whoever this girl was, she had no sense of social etiquette, manners, or decency.  He felt humiliated to be beaten at his own attempted game by a girl, as much as he’d always believed men and women to be equal.  So much for having a successful third mission.

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