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—Plunged into darkness

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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.

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 decided to leave Hungary too.

They’ve just climbed into a cattlewagon of an unguarded train with assistance from their smuggler.

Copyright zenobia_joy

They were plunged into darkness after the door slid shut and the locking mechanism closed. Júlia eased herself onto the straw on the floor, and Imre followed her lead after removing the heavy sack.

“So this is how Csicsi travelled,” he whispered. “Now I know a little bit how she felt. If this feels degrading, I can only imagine how much worse it must’ve been to be packed in with eighty other people in the heat of summer, and with a hostile gendarme hanging onto the outside of the car.”

“You really like her, don’t you?”

“I think I love her. She’s not the type of woman I would’ve considered myself interested in, but we seem well-matched so far. I wouldn’t have killed a man for any of my other ladies.”

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—Determined to leave

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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.

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 explains she’s terrified of all the occupying Soviet soldiers and feels a world apart from her classmates due to their disparate wartime experiences. After the smuggler asks Mrs. Goldmark if she gives permission for Júlia to leave, Júlia adds to her earlier plea.

Fasori Gimnázium, one of Budapest’s finest secondary schools
Copyright
Thaler Tamas

“I’ll attend a good lycée and keep out of trouble, though I’d prefer to go to a school with other survivors. No offense, Anyuka, but you seem to think the world is still mostly the same as it used to be. If there’d been no war and occupation, I would’ve been happy to attend a Hungarian gymnasium and get my matura, or to study abroad at a fancy Parisian lycée. We don’t live in that kind of world anymore. We belong with our own people, no matter how much more money we have than most other survivors. I’d probably be happiest in a city that wasn’t Paris.”

“If your mind is made up, I suppose I can’t deter you,” Mrs. Goldmark said. “You can pack after supper.”

WeWriWa—Determined to leave

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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.

Imre Goldmark put himself in a great deal of danger by going to his girlfriend Csilla’s old house to dig up valuables she hid last spring. He got into a violent fight with the gendarme who took over the house, whom he believes he murdered. Imre fled back to Budapest with the valuables and a broken hand.

His mother quickly found a smuggler from the Brihah, a group who successfully got many people out of harm’s way in the early postwar years. Imre’s sister Júlia announced she wants to escape too, and explains she’s terrified of all the occupying Soviet soldiers and feels a world apart from her classmates due to their disparate wartime experiences.

District XII of Budapest in 1945, Foto:Fortepan/Lissák Tivadar

“How long have you felt like this? You seemed happy and well-adjusted at your new school and in this new neighborhood.”

“These feelings have been building for awhile, but I didn’t want to bring it up for fear of you not understanding. So many people want to leave Hungary and Europe, but you seem happy staying here no matter what happened. We had it easy compared to Imcsi’s friends, but we still went through things other Hungarians can’t relate to or understand. Maybe we really should all move to Palestine.”

The Brihah man looked at Mrs. Goldmark. “Do you give permission for your daughter to go with us? These clandestine border crossings are usually fairly safe, and we’ll give them enough money to bribe anyone who might discover them and squeal.”