Posted in 1940s, Historical fiction, Shoah, Writing

WeWriWa—Mirjam’s great idea


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.

I’m going back to my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which follows a group of young Shoah survivors (almost all of them Hungarian) during the early postwar years. Part II tells the story of what happened to the friends of Eszter Kovács while they were separated.

Eszter’s older sister Mirjam, a master’s degree student in Budapest, fled back to her hometown of Abony immediately after the Nazi invasion in March, under the false impression she’d be safer in a small town. Though this put her in a considerably greater amount of danger, it also enabled her to find a way to send her youngest siblings to safety. Even in the death train, she still hasn’t given up hope.

The last-minute escape she engineers is based on the escape in the 2006 German film The Last Train (Der Letzte Zug).

Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-027-1477-07 / Vennemann, Wolfgang / CC-BY-SA 3.0

A young man with a gash across his face picked up a rock and lobbed it through the window. It found its mark grazing across Oszkár’s face, and Oszkár tripped backwards.

“Is this train ride almost over?” Ráhel asked. “I’m getting tired of standing.”

“We’re all getting tired of standing!” an old man snapped. “You’re not the most important person in this car!”

Mirjam grabbed the rock. “Does anyone have twine and a stick? We can fashion this into an axe, and cut through the door. This is just the right shape and size for a homemade axe, though there’s no time to sharpen it.”

The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.

Gusztáv picked up the rock. “We might have some supplies to fashion an axe. Dr. Rozental, may we borrow your flashlight?”

With the light of the small flashlight, Fábián pulled out his boot laces and Oszkár fished around in his bundles.

“You can use this,” Móric’s older sister Petra said, extending a long wooden rod with flares on either end. “This was Veruska’s teething stick, and was still in the bag of children’s supplies when we left Újszász.”

Using Dr. Rozental’s sharpest scalpel, Gusztáv sawed off one of the flares and split the top of what remained. Gusztáv then took a deep breath and submerged the stick in the waste bucket. He gagged as he bent the wood around the rock and lashed it in place with Fábián’s boot laces. While this was going on, Mirjam used another scalpel to remove the star from Ráhel’s blouse.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

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