WeWriWa—On the way to safety

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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. This week’s snippet comes a few lines after last week’s, when 18-year-old Emánuel and 17-year-old Adrián ran across three Czech partisans in Boubínský Prales, one of the forests on Boubín Mountain.

One of the partisans asked where they were from, and Emánuel said they’re Hungarians.

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Copyright Chmee2

“I think I’ve been shot,” Adrián gasped. “My right shoulder and thigh are burning.”

The tallest partisan lifted Adrián onto his back, and the other two partisans supported Emánuel.  As they hurried to their destination, Emánuel suppressed his urge to cough.

At the edge of the forest, one of the partisans ran off, and came back with a horse-drawn cart full of hay.  Emánuel climbed in, and Adrián was lifted in, after which the partisans covered them with hay.  Every time the cart hit a rock, branch, thick snow, ice, or any other kind of disturbance on its way up the mountain, a fresh wave of pain swept through Adrián.  Though the temperature was still bone-chillingly cold as March approached, Adrián’s right thigh was nice and warm from the blood on both sides.  His right shoulder was warm too, though not as much as his thigh.

WeWriWa—Unexpected friends

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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. This week’s snippet starts the second scene in the fourth section of Chapter 18 of The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. During the pandemonium which broke out during a fight at night, 18-year-old Emánuel Karfinkel and 17-year-old Adrián Fridman were able to escape.

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Boubínský Prales in the Bohemian Forest, Copyright Chmee2

Adrián collapsed in Boubínský Prales, several meters from three armed young men in dark brown clothes.  Emánuel stopped and put his hands up.

“Don’t shoot!  We’ll do whatever you demand, so long as you don’t shoot us for escaping!”

“We’re not Germans,” the tallest young man said. “We’re Czech partisans on night patrol in Šumava.  No one’s going to shoot you for escaping God knows what.  We’ll take you to a safe house.”

“Where are you fellows from?” the shortest partisan asked. “I can tell that’s not a Czech accent.”

WeWriWa—Thick tensions

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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. This week’s snippet immediately follows last week’s, when the seven remaining young men in a group of friends from Abony, Hungary were encamped by the Bohemian Forest in late February 1945.

Tensions among them have been running higher and higher since they left the mining camp Jawischowitz about a month ago. Four of the boys are determined to survive, while the other three have completely given up hope and turned on their friends.

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View from Boubínský Prales, the specific location of the scene. Copyright Chmee2

Emánuel coughed his deep, hacking cough. “When we’re free, we can discuss all the reasons for this mass madness in detail.  There are so many complex reasons behind it, which didn’t arise overnight or in a vacuum.  I’m more than guilty of being a terrified bystander too.  I was too afraid to fight back or disobey those hateful laws, and now look what’s happened to us.”

Ágoston sneered at him. “You’re still talking like some pampered intellectual sitting in his ivory tower, out of touch with reality!  You should care more about a slice of bread and better shoes than abstract psychological theories!”

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Emánuel Karfinkel wasn’t originally slated to survive, but I came to realize I’d killed off WAY too many people for no other reason than to try to drive home the devastating impact of the Shoah in Hungary. I also wanted to show cruel reality in contrast to the miraculous survival and escapes of almost all of my Polish characters.

After I took this book out of hiatus and turned an unrealistically long monologue into a flashback Part II (modelled after the flashback chapters in Leon Uris’s Exodus, which are an integral part of the narrative), I decided to save more people. I always had a soft spot for Emánuel, and wanted him to live. To keep the main narrative focused on the original core cast, the characters I rescued survive separately, and don’t immediately link back up with the others.

Emánuel was on track to go to the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and dreams of playing violin in a national symphony orchestra someday. Since working in a coal mine for several months, he’s picked up a cough his friends suspect is tuberculosis or another lung disease.