WeWriWa—Trepidation in a train

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, and ends the chapter.

After a violent fight with a former gendarme, Imre Goldmark is being smuggled out of Budapest and into Italy to join his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. Imre is afraid he killed the gendarme, and his mother doesn’t want to take any chances. Imre’s sister Júlia decided to leave Hungary too.

They’re now safe inside a cattlewagon of a train under the protection of the Brihah. Imre has just told Júlia he thinks he loves Csilla, and that he wouldn’t have killed a man for any of his prior girlfriends.

Budapest’s Nyugati Station in 1936
Copyright FOTO:FORTEPAN/Lőrincze Judit

“Are you really sure you killed him? Maybe he just passed out or was badly injured.”

“There was no pulse or breath.” Imre fell silent at the sound of footsteps pacing around outside.

Throughout the night, various voices drifted through the air. Some of them were Russian soldiers, but others were Hungarians. Every so often, they heard voices in a third, unfamiliar language, which they hoped was Hebrew being spoken by Brihah agents guarding the train. It was difficult to fall asleep with only straw for a bed and no blankets, but eventually both Imre and Júlia’s exhaustion got the better of them, and they were sound asleep by the time the train pulled out of the station and began making its way towards the birthplace of Dante, Boccaccio, and the Renaissance.

WeWriWa—Leaving Budapest

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes about one page after last week’s.

After a violent fight with a former gendarme, Imre Goldmark is being smuggled out of Budapest and into Italy to join his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. Imre is afraid he killed the gendarme, and his mother doesn’t want to take any chance.

Imre’s sister Júlia announced she wants to escape too, and Mrs. Goldmark granted permission. Now they’re on their way to a train with their smuggler, with both their luggage and Csilla’s recovered valuables.

A Brihah train in Austria, 1945

The Brihah man pulled the sled down the stairs, and Imre and Júlia followed after him in the dark. Every step of the way, Imre prayed the pain wouldn’t decide to make a sudden reappearance. He could already feel people looking at them strangely, though people carting around a lot of luggage hadn’t yet become a completely foreign sight in these early postwar months.

The Brihah man led them around to an unguarded train standing still on the tracks. He first tried the coal cars, then began trying to open the cattlewagons. Near the end of the line, a door finally slid open, to the sight of several large cows and their calves. Without wasting a moment, he hoisted the luggage-laden sled inside, and then Júlia climbed inside with the skis, globe, and bag of food. Imre climbed in last, the weight of the postal sack heavier than before.

“Good luck,” the Brihah man said. “Remember what I said about kicking the cows if you absolutely need to make any noises.”

WeWriWa—Mrs. Goldmark’s magic

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre broke his entire left hand after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house, and has been advised to hide in his mother’s apartment till a smuggler can be found. Less than 24 hours later, that smuggler has arrived and promised to get Imre into Italy.

View of Pasarét, Copyright Globetrotter19

“Their ultimate destination is France,” Mrs. Goldmark said. “My beautiful Imcsi wants to study literature at the Sorbonne.”

“How did you know my address?” Imre asked. “I didn’t have a chance to tell you.”

“I took today off work, claiming a personal emergency, and asked around in all the Pest synagogues and Jewish committees. I was finally directed towards a smuggler, whom it turns out knew someone who’d recently helped with smuggling a group in Pasarét. When I spoke to this other smuggler, I got the address, and I went over there immediately to retrieve your luggage. Mirjam was shocked to learn what’d happened, but promised to keep mum. She wishes you well, and looks forward to seeing you again when she comes to France.”

*********************

Mirjam is the much-older sister of Imre’s friend Eszter. She and her roommates opened their apartment to Imre’s female friends, and found a vacant apartment across the hall for the boys. Mirjam fled home to Abony after the Nazis invaded Budapest. Though that made her fate much worse, it also enabled her to send her youngest two siblings to safety in a last-minute miracle.

WeWriWa—Waking up to unexpected news

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, starting the second section of this chapter.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre fled back to Budapest after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house, and discovered he broke his entire dominant hand. His mother promised to hide him until she could find someone to smuggle him out of Hungary. Imre may have killed the gendarme, which puts his life in danger.

Rizi-bizi, Copyright Dithie at WikiCommons

Imre slept until early evening, so conked-out by the morphine and his body’s overwhelming need to rest and start recovering after that huge shock to the system. When he finally awoke, he heard a strange voice drifting in from the living room, commingled with the delicious scent of chicken soup, stuffed peppers, and rizi-bizi. Then the throbbing pain in his hand made itself known again, and he rushed into the washroom with the empty glass on his nightstand and the bottle of codeine.

“You’re going on a little journey,” the stranger informed him when he made his appearance. “Your mother already retrieved your luggage for you, so you’re ready to go as soon as you eat.”

“Where am I going?” Imre asked. “Who are you?”

“I’m from the Brihah, my good man. It’s our job to get as many people out of Europe and into Palestine as possible. Your mother tells me your friends recently left for Italy, and now you’re going to join them.”

WeWriWa—Hovering between safety and danger

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. I’m now sharing from Chapter 45, “Imre’s Revenge,” of my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. This week’s snippet comes a bit after last week’s.

It’s November 1945, and Imre chose to stay behind in Budapest when his girlfriend Csilla and their friends were smuggled into Italy. Hoping to prove himself a hero, he went to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

Imre fled back to Budapest after a violent fight with the gendarme who took over Csilla’s house. He’s now at a nearby hospital with his mother, getting treatment for a broken hand. Imre wants to return to his apartment with pain relief, but his mother is afraid it’s not safe for him to go anywhere.

1945 Budapest, Copyright Foto:Fortepan/Kramer István dr

“After what you’ve admitted, the police might already be trying to track you down. I’ll hide you until we can find someone to smuggle you over the border. If you give me the address, I can go to Pasarét myself to retrieve your belongings.”

“Listen to your mother,” the doctor said. “She’s talking sense.”

Imre got some more morphine before being sent home with a big bottle of codeine and a prescription for more. On the taxi back to Wesselényi Utca, he hovered in the strange half-sleep state, until finally being back in his old bed. Hypnos visited him almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.