WeWriWa—Escape to the depot

Happy 74th birthday to Pete Townshend!


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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.

It’s November 1945, and Imre has stayed behind in Budapest instead of being smuggled into Italy with his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. He’s determined to perform some modern Herculean labors, starting with going to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

The gendarme who took over Csilla’s house, Mr. Mészáros, discovered Imre in the cellar, and a violent fight broke out. Imre suspects he may have killed Mr. Mészáros, and got out of that house after discovering Csilla’s old sled and tying down the oversized objects he uncovered. The rest are in a large postal sack around his neck.

On his way to the depot, he begins wondering when Mr. Mészáros’s wife and daughters will return and discover what happened.

Abony depot, Copyright Globetrotter19

Perhaps they’d get the authorities involved, and he’d be implicated and tracked down. If that happened, he had to escape Hungary as soon as possible.

The sight of the depot was a welcome blessing, after a thirty-minute walk that seemed to take thirty days. He asked for a ticket to Nyugati Station, struggling to speak in a normal tone of voice, and pushed the pengő across the counter. As soon as the train steamed into the station, Imre rushed aboard with the sled, found a seat, and almost collapsed. Once everyone was aboard and the journey had begun, a porter came around offering drinks and light refreshments. Imre asked for vodka, and chugged it down as soon as it was in his hand. The moment the miraculous natural pain-killer hit his tongue, the intense pain began ebbing away. He knew it’d come back once the alcohol was out of his system, but for now, it was nice to forget reality.

WeWriWa—Temporary assistance

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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.

It’s November 1945, and Imre has stayed behind in Budapest instead of being smuggled into Italy with his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. He’s determined to perform some modern Herculean labors, starting with going to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

The gendarme who now owns Csilla’s house, Mr. Mészáros, discovered Imre in the cellar, and a violent fight broke out. Now that Imre has come down out of his white-hot rage, he realizes he may have killed Mr. Mészáros.

Cellar in Saxony, Copyright Der Checkerboy

The pain in his left hand had returned by now, and all he wanted was some alcohol or morphine to take it away. He could feel his entire hand swelling up in the most intense pain of his life.

Imre noticed a sled, which he assumed was the sled Csilla had included in her list. It was too big to be hidden under the coal with the other things, but it had gone unnoticed so far, tucked away in that darkened, cobweb-ridden corner. Gratefully, he put the typewriter, globe, and skis on it, fastened them down with a piece of nearby rope, and took hold of the long leather strap tied around the wooden cross-piece. It felt wrong to use his right hand, but he had no other choice with the screaming agony his dominant hand was now in. Every agonized step up the stairs, his hand throbbed even more. By the time he made it upstairs and located the front door, he was tempted to chop the hand off just to end the pain.

He clenched his teeth and breathed hard as he walked back to the depot. On his way there, he began wondering when Mr. Mészáros’s wife and daughters would return home, and when they’d discover what had happened in the cellar.

WeWriWa—From bad to worse

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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.

It’s November 1945, and Imre has stayed behind in Budapest instead of being smuggled into Italy with his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. He’s determined to perform some modern Herculean labors, starting with going to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

The gendarme who now owns Csilla’s house, Mr. Mészáros, discovered Imre in the cellar and demanded he leave immediately, without the unearthed valuables. The normally peace-loving Imre flew into a white-hot rage during their increasingly heated discussion, and pushed Mr. Mészáros against the wall, punching him over and over. Now he’s on the floor, blood coming from his mouth and nose.

Fascist Arrow Cross flag of Hungary, November 1942–May 1945

Imre still wasn’t satisfied, and began kicking him again and again in the ribcage and head. His rage was still at white-hot levels, to the point he didn’t feel the throbbing pain in his hand anymore. As a final measure, he grabbed a shovel propped against the wall and banged Mr. Mészáros over the head with it.

“Now how does it feel to be at the mercy of someone who hates you and doesn’t give a damn about your pain?”

There was no response.

“Answer me, you faszfej! Don’t you dare ignore me when I’m speaking to you!”

Imre’s heart beat even faster when there was still no response. He grabbed Mr. Mészáros’s wrist to check for a pulse, then ripped open his shirt, revealing an Arrow Cross tattoo over his heart. In revulsion, Imre ran back to the valuables, put the postal bag around his neck, tucked the skis and globe stand under his left arm, and picked up the typewriter with his right hand.

IWSG—May odds and sods

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The Insecure Writer’s Support Group virtually meets the first Wednesday of each month, and gives participants a chance to share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:

What was an early experience where you learnt language had power?

I don’t think I can pinpoint any exact experiences. It was probably more like a gradual realisation than one big epiphany. To point to individual examples, perhaps when I read adult non-fiction books on the Shoah and Pres. Lincoln’s assassination at age eight, long before I was intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically ready to handle such material, and came away profoundly disturbed and haunted.

A happier example is my experience with Ida Vos’s Hide and Seek at age twelve. It was a revelation to discover books could be written in present tense (in that case, third-person). That stylistic decision make the action seem so much more immediate, gripping, intense, uncertain, evoking an entirely different mood than past tense. I chose to make my first Russian historical present tense because of that experience.

I met my lowball Camp NaNo goal on Day 18, though I didn’t overachieve nearly as much as I usually do. Going in, I suspected I might have a slower April, in part because I’ve been using quite a lot of my library time on genealogy research instead of writing. It’s just so exciting, and I can’t use those databases at home without paying.

As promised, I’ll introduce some of my illustrious ancestors in future posts. Though I’m by and large descended from nobodies, one branch of my family tree has knights on it, including members of the Cromwell family. Another direct ancestor founded Lancaster, Massachusetts and is also a common ancestor to the Bush family.

Shortly before Camp NaNo began, I came to the conclusion it’s best to split A Dream Deferred: Lyuba and Ivan at University into three volumes. The chapter-by-chapter notes I made in 2015 never included the subplots and characters which organically unfolded during the actual writing process. Their inclusion has made the wordcount increase quite a bit past my initial conservative guesstimate of 400K.

More and more, I feel one of those unplanned subplots was either a complete mistake or needs more time to simmer. Long story short, Katya and Dmitriy befriend another young Naval couple, Dagmara (Marusya) and Zosim (Sima), who strongly seem to have a connection to Katya’s family.

Sima turns out to be the firstborn son of Katya’s step-great-uncle Grigoriy Golitsyn, a prince by birth. After so many years of private pain, Mr. Golitsyn begins expressing doubts about the former Vitya’s death, owing to his little body mysteriously vanishing between the time Mr. Golitsyn and his friends ran away to the time they came back to their home to gather important possessions.

Additionally, Marusya turns out to be the unknown baby sister of Katya’s godfather Aleksey. Their parents escaped the USSR and settled in Los Angeles, neither having any reason to believe the other had survived. After building up this storyline, the resolution seems too rushed and just dumped on the page, after which it’s never spoken of again.

The reunion of Mr. Golitsyn and his long-lost son is too precious to excise, esp. since it’s only intended as a minor subplot, but if I want to keep the other part of it, I have to move the resolution up or hold it back till the future fifth book.

This year’s IWSG anthology, which features ten stories including mine, released yesterday. We’ve put a lot of hard work into building buzz and promoting it. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join in the live Q&A panel on the 11th, since I don’t use my computer on Shabbos. I’ll be happy to answer any questions fielded my way, though.

WeWriWa—White-hot rage

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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.

It’s November 1945, and Imre has stayed behind in Budapest instead of being smuggled into Italy with his girlfriend Csilla and their friends. He’s determined to perform some modern Herculean labors, starting with going to Csilla’s hometown Abony to recover important possessions she hid last year.

The gendarme who now owns Csilla’s house, Mr. Mészáros, has discovered Imre in the cellar, and is adamant the unearthed valuables are now his property. Imre, however, insists he’s bringing them back to their rightful owner. If Mr. Mészáros refuses, Imre will tell the occupying Soviets a former Arrow Cross officer is in their midst.

War command to the armed nation!
Courtesy FOTO:Fortepan/Lissák Tivadar

“My girlfriend is on her way to Italy, far away from people like you. She doesn’t know I’m doing this.” Imre advanced towards him. “How would you feel if someone tortured you with electrical wires and foot-flogging?”

“But I’m not the criminal of an inferior race.”

Imre pushed Mr. Mészáros against the nearest wall, blinded by rage, and began punching him over and over again, like an unrestrained wild animal. He’d never punched anyone before, but there was a first time for everything. In his white-hot rage, he wasn’t aware of anything else, and didn’t know if Mr. Mészáros were saying anything or fighting back. Imre only became aware of his surroundings again when he slammed his fist into the brick wall and immediately felt a sharp, intense, throbbing pain. He looked down, and saw Mr. Mészáros on the floor, blood dripping from his mouth and nose.