Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet immediately follows last week’s, when the seven remaining young men in a group of friends from Abony, Hungary were encamped by the Bohemian Forest in late February 1945.
Tensions among them have been running higher and higher since they left the mining camp Jawischowitz about a month ago. Four of the boys are determined to survive, while the other three have completely given up hope and turned on their friends.
View from Boubínský Prales, the specific location of the scene. Copyright Chmee2
Emánuel coughed his deep, hacking cough. “When we’re free, we can discuss all the reasons for this mass madness in detail. There are so many complex reasons behind it, which didn’t arise overnight or in a vacuum. I’m more than guilty of being a terrified bystander too. I was too afraid to fight back or disobey those hateful laws, and now look what’s happened to us.”
Ágoston sneered at him. “You’re still talking like some pampered intellectual sitting in his ivory tower, out of touch with reality! You should care more about a slice of bread and better shoes than abstract psychological theories!”
Emánuel Karfinkel wasn’t originally slated to survive, but I came to realize I’d killed off WAY too many people for no other reason than to try to drive home the devastating impact of the Shoah in Hungary. I also wanted to show cruel reality in contrast to the miraculous survival and escapes of almost all of my Polish characters.
After I took this book out of hiatus and turned an unrealistically long monologue into a flashback Part II (modelled after the flashback chapters in Leon Uris’s Exodus, which are an integral part of the narrative), I decided to save more people. I always had a soft spot for Emánuel, and wanted him to live. To keep the main narrative focused on the original core cast, the characters I rescued survive separately, and don’t immediately link back up with the others.
Emánuel was on track to go to the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and dreams of playing violin in a national symphony orchestra someday. Since working in a coal mine for several months, he’s picked up a cough his friends suspect is tuberculosis or another lung disease.