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’ve gone back to my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which follows a group of young Shoah survivors during the early postwar years. Part II tells the story of what happened to some of them while they were separated.
Mirjam Kovács, a graduate student in Budapest, fled back to her hometown of Abony immediately after the Nazi invasion in March 1944. Though this put her in considerable 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 escape she engineers is inspired by the 2006 German film The Last Train (Der Letzte Zug). With help from other passengers, a rock was transformed into an axe which increased the size of a pre-existing hole in the floor. While some of the young men raised a loud disturbance, Mirjam’s siblings escaped.
Ambrózia is Ráhel’s fancy Jumeau doll, whom Mirjam bought in Budapest.
Mirjam watched from the window as Ráhel and Dániel ran towards the nearby forest behind the train. Ambrózia was tucked under Ráhel’s left arm, with Dániel on her right hand. The overstuffed schoolbag jostled around on her back, but nothing seemed to be falling out.
“Thank God,” Mirjam said as the young men quieted down. “They got away.”
“For now,” Cippóra said. “For all you know, they’ll be captured in the morning, and they’ll be back in the train.”
“Yes, that’s entirely possible, but a day of life is a day of life. When someone sees Dani’s bull neck, they’ll know he has diphtheria and get immediate medical attention. He couldn’t go much longer without any treatment.”
The ten lines end here. A few more follow to finish the scene.
“That was insane,” an old woman proclaimed. “You just sent your little brother and sister into a strange country by themselves. God knows what might happen to them, particularly without anyone to protect them. Why were they so much more important than anyone else’s children, and why were you so insistent about getting them out of here?”
“I did it to try to save their lives. There wouldn’t have been much hope for them if they’d stayed in this foul coffin on wheels, but in the woods or a nearby village, they at least stand a chance.”
Mrs. Heyman put her arms around Aliz and Márton. “I’m glad my family is still together. I’d never agree to let my children go into the wilds by themselves. Once we’re at the factory, we’ll get good jobs and decent living quarters, and you’ll wish you hadn’t split up your family.”
“I hope you’re right, Jusztina Néni, but I don’t trust the Germans’ intentions, particularly after all the rumors I heard and everything we experienced ourselves. Soon enough, we’ll find out which of us regrets her decisions. I really do hope neither of us replays these last few days over and over, wishing we’d done things differently when there was still that window of opportunity to change Fate.”