Today is my secular birthday (my Hebrew birthday will be the 5th night of Chanukah). I’ve reached an age where I’d prefer not to say how old I am, though I don’t look my age at all! Most people don’t think I’m older than 25.
Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes about five chapters after last week’s. My characters left Florence for Paris after Chanukah ended, and found Marie’s dear friend Wolfram Engel by the depot. Wolfram paid for their stay by the famous, luxurious Hôtel Le Meurice.
After several days in Paris, everyone but Wolfram set out for Marie’s hometown of Nantes. Marie didn’t exactly receive a hero’s welcome home, and suffered a bit of a mental breakdown. Upon their return to Paris, Wolfram took them to an apartment across the hall from his. He moved in all the things they left with him, and bought cheap furniture and mattresses. Wolfram invited them to join him for some Christmas baking after washing off the road dust.
At 7:30, they reconvened in Wolfram’s flat, which had a wreath hung on the door. The first thing everyone noticed was the large Christmas tree in the living room. They’d all seen Christmas trees before, but never this up-close and personal. It dominated the entire room and flat by mere virtue of its presence.
Wolfram had festooned it with bright colored glass bulbs; strings of popcorn and dried cranberries; blue, white, red, and yellow tinsel; artificial birds’ nests with eggs; a string of multicolored lights; miniature musical instruments; and several different types of birds. It was topped off by an angel. Underneath the tree was a miniature village with a toy train running around and producing real smoke. Everyone looked away from the manger scene.
Another wreath was hung on the mantle above the fireplace, and on top of the mantle was an odd piece of cardboard with little open windows displaying pictures of both secular and religious Christmas subjects. The unopened windows bore numbers, suggesting it were a type of calendar counting down to Christmas.
Wolfram was sent to the camps for violating Paragraph 175, Germany’s anti-gay legislation which was on the books until 1994. He fell away from churchgoing and Confession years ago due to his anger at Church teachings about homosexuality, but still feels a strong pull towards the cultural aspect of German Catholicism.
As Wolfram tells Marie (whom he calls Mitzi), it means the world to him that she’s never judged or feared him. He’s her surrogate father, and later walks her up to the wedding canopy and serves as her children’s grandfather.
I’ve always pictured Wolfram a bit like silent screen sheik and fellow Pittsburgher Thomas Meighan, with thicker and wavier hair, and intense green eyes: