Posted in 1940s, Historical fiction, Shoah, Writing



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.

Ráhel and Dániel Kovacs, eight and four years old, just escaped from a death train through a hole in the floor, under cover of night, and ran to a nearby building for shelter. They were greeted by nuns, who showed them to a hidden room upstairs and gave them food and the chance to bathe. Now a doctor has arrived to help Dániel, who has diphtheria.

The doctor’s surname means “duck” in Polish.


“We’re members of the International Union of Catholic Esperantists and the Polish Esperanto Association,” one of the women in brown said. “We’re also Carmelite nuns. This is Dr. Kaczka, a member of the local underground.”

“We can’t risk going to any hospitals,” Dr. Kaczka said as he opened his bag. “I’ll have to perform an old-fashioned procedure here. I thought diphtheria was gone after last year’s epidemic.”

Dr. Kaczka injected a numbing agent, cleaned Dániel’s neck, draped it with a big gauze square, and made several cuts to reveal the outer wall of the trachea. Ráhel watched, fascinated, as her brother’s neck was cut into and blood gushed forth. One of the nuns daubed up the blood with more gauze. Once the worst of the bleeding looked contained, Dr. Kaczka cut an opening in the trachea and guided a small silver tube inside.

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

He then closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and sucked out the grey pseudomembrane which had been causing Dániel’s neck to swell up and cause so much croupy coughing.

Dániel’s skin went from blue to pink, and the dazed expression in his deep brown eyes lessened. He looked around in confusion, but he no longer looked as though he were fading.

“Praise God. That old trick still works.” Dr. Kaczka smiled down at Dániel, then addressed the nuns in Polish. “Sisters, you’ll have to leave the tube in his throat until the worst of the illness passes and you’re sure he’s on the mend. It shouldn’t adversely affect his drinking, eating, or breathing, though he might not be able to speak normally for a few days. If he puts his hand over the tube, he’ll probably be able to speak better. What’s the boy’s name?”


P.S.: Happy seventh birthday to my rook piercing! It’s the curved barbell with lavender opals, and it’s always been one of my favorite piercings of my collection to date.


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

4 thoughts on “WeWriWa—Tracheostomy

  1. Sorry I was distracted by the Duran Duran photo in the last post . . . le sigh! That takes me back! (Shaking it off!) What a tense and vivid scene for survivals sake!


  2. Happy Rook Piercing Birthday, Carrie-Anne!

    And those lavender opals really are so shiny in the right light.

    [they were more or less fashionable in the mid-1990s – you could not move or shift without OPALS OPALS OPALS of whatever size or shape or setting].

    [this was before the big piercings of today].

    [If you are vlogging with them in at all…]

    The Esperantists are so cool and of course people like doctors and legalists and engineers would have joined them.

    And I like the way Kaczka combines her religion and world peace – and of course is dedicated to her medicine practice.

    Gauze makes so much difference especially when the settings are not so clean.

    Carmelite nuns – they are one of my favourite orders.

    A few 21st-century classmates have had “the traech” and it was good to see it in a wartime setting.

    The calm; the cool; the collectedness.

    Diphtheria is clearly NOT gone – and the children would have had to have lost their immunity.

    An epidemic really is not a PANdemic is it? With the epidemic only some people catch it and spread it.

    “Hand over the tube”!


Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s