Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. The rules have now been relaxed to allow a few more sentences if merited, so long as they’re clearly indicated, to avoid the creative punctuation many of us have used to stay within the limit.
While I’m doing preliminary research for a new project, an alternative history set in Medieval Italy, I’d like to switch to excerpts which are kind of related to its subject. This comes from my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which follows a group of young Shoah survivors from Hungary, France, Czechoslovakia, and Italy as they readjust to the land of the living and decide where they ultimately want to settle.
It’s now December 1945, and the friends have gone to the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence before departing for Paris. This was where young doctor Caterina was apprehended by the Nazis in November 1943, after attempting to hide in a place she always felt safe.
Júlia stopped in her tracks when the old stone building came into view. “Is that actually a Magen David on top? I’d expect to find a cross or angel on a church, particularly in such a Catholic country.”
“That’s from the nineteenth century, not the original design,” Caterina explained. “A Jewish architect designed the façade. He’s buried under the porch, since non-Christians can’t be buried inside. I like how there’s both a star and cross. It’s a symbol of how nicely we lived together in Italy for so many hundreds of years. We generally had good interfaith relations, unlike many other countries.”
Caterina approached the stone statue of Dante on the left side, atop a pillar flanked by lions and an eagle.
The ten lines end here. A few more to finish the scene follow.
The great poet’s likeness stared straight ahead and to his left, a very intent, serious expression on his face. He was cloaked in a cape, a crown of laurels on his head, with a book in his right hand, just as he was often depicted in artwork.
“Are you able to go inside?” Marie asked. “I don’t want you to relive bad memories if you’re not ready to revisit this place.”
“No, I wanted to come here before we left. It seems only right to return to the place where my exile began, and to leave voluntarily this time.”