Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 15

Word Count: 90,050

Summary of Events:
Keeleigh and her brother talked about what she'd learned so far and her plans to visit Adelejda Myshaniuk on her own. Emil and the rest of the family watched the German forces enter Warsaw with solemnity before Jarek started talking about how he was going to annihilate all of the Germans in revenge. Keeleigh was working in the hardware store at the Village again for the last day of the season when a woman approached her, intent to purchase something in the store . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""What are you looking at purchasing?" Keeleigh asked.
"One of these saws," the woman replied. "My husband likes woodworking, and he also likes antiques, which he uses to decorate his workshop."
"The biggest one is three dollars, I believe," Keeleigh replied.
The woman pulled out a twoonie and a loonie.
"What kind of money is that?" Keeleigh asked.
"It's three dollars," the woman replied.
"How?" Keeleigh asked.
"It's a one dollar coin and a two dollar coin," the woman replied.
"We don't have one and two dollar coins," Keeleigh said. "We have bills."
"No we don't," the woman replied. "Canada replaced their one dollar bill with a coin in the nineteen eighties and their two dollar bill with a coin in the nineteen nineties."
"But it's nineteen twenty six," Keeleigh said.
"Oh," the woman said. "Would it be better if I gave you quarters, nickels, and dimes then?"
"Maybe," Keeleigh replied.
The woman took back the loonie and twoonie and drew out her change purse again, from which she brought out several quarters, one of which landed with Queen Elizabeth's face upward.
"Who is that?" Keeleigh asked.
"That's Queen Elizabeth," the woman replied. "She's the Queen of England and Canada."
"No, it's King George, the fifth," Keeleigh replied.
"That's her grandfather," the woman said. "You see, he died in nineteen thirty six, and then his son Edward took the throne, but wasn't even crowned because he wanted to marry a divorcée, which wasn't permissible for a king, so he abdicated the throne and his brother, Albert, who took the name George the sixth, became king until nineteen fifty two, when he died and his daughter, Elizabeth, took the throne as Queen Elizabeth the second. She's reigned ever since and has even officially passed Queen Victoria as the longest reigning monarch in British history."
"But she isn't queen now," Keeleigh said. "George the fifth is king."
"So you can't take these either," the woman said.
"No," Keeleigh replied. "We only take money with King George the fifth on it. I'm sorry."
"I've never seen any money like that," the woman said. "I have seen some George the sixth coins, though. The never minted any for Edward. He wasn't even officially called Edward the eighth, although that's what he was."
"But that's all there is for money, it all shows him," Keeleigh said.
"Not anymore," the woman replied. "But as soon as I find some I'll bring it to you and get that saw."
"I shouldn't think it would be that hard," Keeleigh said. "We'll see you soon then."
"I'm glad you're that optimistic," the woman said, taking up her quarters and heading off.
Keeleigh smiled somewhat wanly. She felt like the woman was genuinely upset that she wasn't able to use modern Canadian currency to make the purchase, but being as they weren't technically supposed to sell the artefacts in the Village proper, the fact that they were considering themselves to be wholly in 1926 helped immensely."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 14

Word Count: 84,004

Summary of Events:
The Polish and German forces declared a ceasefire, which disheartened Emil, who was invited by his father's longtime friend, Ladislav, to join resistance efforts against the Germans. Keeleigh was working in the hardware store at the Village when three rather rude teens came in that her fellow actor, Steve, had to kick out. Olga finished helping prepare supper before going to the parlour . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"On one hand, since Henryk and his comrades had used their house, Olga hated to go into the parlour, but on the other hand, she couldn't help it.
She didn't know which of the men had died; he'd been taken out by the others when they'd left. Still, she'd been haunted, severely deprived of sleep, and found herself contently coming back to the parlour to look at the stain in the carpet since then.
As much as Henryk had swept her off her feet — and thinking of him still made her feel something she couldn't explain — she found that she'd easily seared every man's face into her memory, and she felt an ache within her to think that she'd seen a man in his last hours, and she'd been in the same place where he'd died.
In fact, she'd probably heard the shot that had killed him, and she'd never even realised it. She felt sickened that she hadn't thought that some of the staccato shots she'd heard had been German return fire, striking down a rather young man who still had a lot of life left ahead of him.
Tears blurred her vision again as she looked at the spot. All the different colours in the carpet pattern showed the discolouration, as well as the fact that the fibres were stiff and clumped together with his blood, but the discolouration showed strongest on the ivory, which was turned a red-brown colour that looked somewhat rusty, but mostly like dried blood, there was nothing else it could really be called.
She couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling that, somehow, this had been her fault, that she should've found them a better place to hide or something, such as maybe finding the key for Papa's office and letting them in there.
What good would it have done, though? Who said that he wouldn't have been killed in Papa's office either?
Swiping the tears from her eyes, Olga tried to clear her vision, but to no avail. She wished that they could get away from all the fighting, or that they could drive the Germans out and everything could get back to the way it had been before the Germans had decided to attack them.
But it would never be able to return to the same. Too much had changed. She'd never be able to read like she once had, it was just impossible, considering how unexciting her books had suddenly become — in fact, she could see why Emil and Jarek had called them immature and fanciful.
She wasn't even sure that she'd be able to feel safe walking the streets of Warsaw at night again, or even be able to sleep through the night because of the soldier who'd died and all the other horrors that she'd only just gotten glimpses of throughout the course of twenty seven days of fighting."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 13

Word Count: 78,009

Summary of Events:
Keeleigh and Olivia got together at Keeleigh's place to go through their shared antique collection after receiving word that all the Village staff were invited to help clean things up so that they could reopen the majority of the Village for the remaining week of the season. Olga and most of the family were hiding in the cellar when they heard people walking around upstairs, so Olga and Igor went to investigate and discovered several soldiers, whose side she couldn't identify . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"They turned to face Olga and Igor and stopped in surprise.
"Who are you?" the older one, who had to be close to Papa's age, asked, causing the other four soldiers to turn and look.
"We live here," Olga replied.
"Oh," he said. "I'm sorry."
"Is it just the two of you?" one of the men seated by the gun asked.
"No," Olga replied. "There's twelve of us, as well as Mama and Papa."
"What's your family name?" the younger of the two holding the rifles asked.
"Niemcyk," Olga replied.
"You seem to pop up everywhere," he said. "Is this the household of Zbigniew?"
"Yes," Olga replied. "That's Papa."
"We met your brother only yesterday," the young man said. "My uncle and your father have been good friends for years."
"And who is your uncle?" Olga asked.
"Ladislav Kamiński*," the young man replied.
"Oh," Olga said. She recalled the name, but she didn't know that she'd seen much of the man. "And you are?"
"Henryk Kamiński," the young man replied. "And these are my comrades. We didn't realise this house was occupied. We hope you don't mind."
"I think Mama might be a little upset," Olga said. "She doesn't typically let people smoke in the parlour. Either they go with Papa into his office or they go outside."
"Oh," Henryk said. "Um, we're terribly sorry."
"All an innocent mistake," one of the other soldiers seated on the floor said. "We hope your mother will understand."
"She hasn't been understanding of much lately," Olga said. "The war is scaring her."
"Understandably so," the other man with a rifle said. "It's scaring all of us."
"Is your whole family here?" Henryk asked.
"No," Olga replied. "Papa, Emil, Zygfryd, and Jarek are out somewhere helping."
"No surprise," Henryk said. "Uncle Ladislav told me your Papa served in the Army last war."
"Mama and the rest of us are in the cellar," Olga said.
"You should go back and hide down there," the older man with a rifle said. "Germans are approaching, and we wouldn't want you to get hurt."
Olga nodded and started back toward the kitchen. She turned when she realised Igor wasn't with her and nearly ran right into Henryk.
He gave her a friendly smile. "A pleasure to meet you Miss Niemcyk."
Mutely, Olga nodded, finding her voice had suddenly abandoned her.
Henryk then took up her hand softly and kissed her fingers just where they emerged from her hand before softly sliding his hand out from under her own and heading up the stairs.
Olga stood rooted to the floor for a long time. She felt bewildered, as if she had no idea where she was or what had just happened. All she could see was the smiling, friendly face of Henryk Kamiński, with handsome blue eyes and golden blonde hair.
Shaking her head, she brought herself back to the present and strode into the parlour to seize Igor and haul him back downstairs with her."

* the acute on the n in Kamiński has no effect on the pronunciation to my knowledge

Pronunciation:
Henryk: hehnreek

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 12

Word Count: 72,136

Summary of Events:
Keeleigh was able to drive herself to work, only to find that the Village had been vandalised in the overnight period. Emil, his ribs finally healed, went out to help with the fight against the Germans however he could, only to become trapped under some rubble during a bombing raid. Keeleigh got a call from her mom before being singled out for some further questioning by the RCMP. A hole was made in the rubble to where Emil was trapped by a German tank driving over the pile; a couple of Germans slipped on the loosened rubble, which made the hole bigger . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"He ducked out of sight as the Germans got to their feet, indignant, and waited for a time before peering out again.
To his horror his gaze locked right onto the blue-eyed gaze of a young, blonde German peering into the hole.
The German shouted before drawing out his pistol.
Emil seized the pistol barrel and struggled with the German for control of the weapon as the German shouted for help.
Another German hurried over and tossed a grenade into the hole. It grazed Emil's shoulder.
Instantly Emil shot out of the hole, knocking the German he'd been struggling with over backwards before tumbling over himself and landing in a seated position with the pistol in his hands.
Surging to his feet, Emil ran toward the house across the street, which had a giant shell-hole in it, as gunfire erupted just moments before the grenade exploded.
Emil leapt over the remainder of the house's front door, ran down the hallway, into the kitchen, and out the back door just before a tank shell exploded the inside of the house and crumbled what it hadn't taken out in the first shot, sending the house down behind him.
Not daring to look back, Emil flung himself over the rear fence and darted south down the alley. Even though he was armed, he didn't know how many of them there were against one of him.
Coming out at the end of the alley, Emil stopped abruptly in alarm at the sight of more Germans. They turned toward him and opened fire instantly.
Emil darted back the way he'd come and then hurried into the second backyard, this one of a house that was even more unscathed than his own home. It was missing its windows, though.
Racing through the house, which was unlocked and empty, Emil darted across the street, gunfire erupting after him, and vaulted into the backyard of another largely undamaged house across the street.
Pain shot through his ribcage as he gasped for air, so he quickly weaselled himself under the stairs of the back porch and rotated around so that he was facing the stairs he'd come in under.
He worked to quieten his breathing, just in case the Germans came into the backyard looking for him.
Suddenly he heard heavy, practically deafening footfalls over his head and he watched as four pairs of shiny black military boots came down the stairs. The Germans were in the backyard.
Laying on his stomach, as still and as quiet as he could make himself, Emil watched as the Germans searched the backyard for any signs of him having vaulted over the fence before storming back into the house with just as much deafening volume as they'd come out.
Emil remained still for as long as he could make himself before squirming back out from under the stairs and going out the back gate quietly."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 11

Word Count: 66,009

Summary of Events:
Keeleigh tried to get a ride to work from her friend Olivia, but she started freaking out before they were halfway there. Emil sat in the cellar with the family because the Germans were shelling and thought about the Soviet invasion of the remainder of Poland, as well as the inaction on the part of Britain and France while everyone else slept. Keeleigh, with help and encouragement from her mom, actually got all the way to work in her costume and even engaged a family of guests on her own.

Excerpt of the Day:
"Even safe within the confines of the house war could be heard all around. Olga wished that she could keep her fingers in her ears to blot out the noise, and yet still be able to keep darning so Mama wouldn't scold her all at the same time.
Not that Mama was getting much knitting done at the moment, as Benedykt was utterly inconsolable and trembling with fright at the noise.
The din of the war was weighing heavily on all of them, and from the sounds of things there was some heated combat action going on between the Polish and German forces, and it seemed very close by too.
In fact, it sounded so close by that Olga was afraid that a bullet was going to come whizzing between the boards that covered up the window opening and hit one of them.
Olga's hands trembled as she darned the sock. Her stomach twisted, ill at the thought of her father and brothers out there, somewhere, in the midst of all the war and fighting.
She couldn't imagine how they'd had the courage to walk out the front door this morning and out into all that fighting. It seemed inconceivable that her father and brothers would have the courage to do such a thing.
Even if all the gunfire were to stop, Olga wasn't sure that she would dare set foot out the front door. The Germans were assuredly close enough that they would be able to see her step out of the door and shoot her instantly.
And, even with Zygfryd's talk about how she wouldn't have to go through purgatory to get to heaven, Olga still didn't like the idea of dying. The only people who died in the books she read were the enemies, the bad people, who cause all the trouble to the good people in the first place.
If she were to die then she wouldn't be like the good people in the books. She would be like one of the bad people. But, then again, all manner of innocent people in Warsaw and Poland had died at the hands of the Germans already.
Innocent people dying never happened in the books. The people who died always had done something to deserve their deaths. Few of the people in Warsaw and Poland had done anything to deserve their deaths. It was the Germans who all deserved to die because of their cruel and ruthless behaviours.
Olga finished darning the hole and managed to tie off the thread. She didn't want to take up another sock to repair, but she knew that Mama would give her a scolding if she didn't.
With how close the Germans were coming, Olga had noticed that Mama was becoming more and more irritable, proving that throwing herself into the various tasks that she was wasn't necessarily distracting her from the approaching enemies."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 10

Word Count: 60,058

Summary of Events:
Emil and Zygfryd, having finished strengthening the walls inside, worked on repairing the siding outside before Emil accidentally cut his finger with a saw. Keeleigh went looking through the trunk again to see what other information she could find and came upon some loose pages . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"They all looked to be written in the same hand, and like they might be part of a letter of some kind, but there was evidence in the upper left corner that the staple holding them all together had failed, leaving them scattered in a disorganised disarray.
Not to mention, being unable to read Polish, Keeleigh was unable to identify what order they went in, she could only figure out which side of the pages was front, and which side was back, and, with that information, she arranged them all into a stack, at least.
She found one page that appeared to have the end, as it was full on the front side, but only halfway so on the rear, where it was ended with a signature.
It took Keeleigh some time to figure out the hastily-written letters, but eventually she made it out to be Zbigniew W. Niemcyk. If she recalled correctly the W stood for Wenceslas.
So this was some sort of a letter written by Zbigniew, but to whom and for what purpose, Keeleigh had no idea.
She kept the end paper at the back and added all the other pages to the front of the stack until she found the one in which the staple was, which seemed to be something of a title page, as it had a nicely centred heading before the text began.
The last couple pages she found that belonged to the document she put in the middle, keeping the front page on the top.
Once she had all the pages assembled, Keeleigh counted how many pages she had in her hands and found an astonishing fifteen neatly handwritten pages. She wonders what exactly Zbigniew had written in them.
She scanned the document for names and found Klementyna mentioned, as well as Kornelia, Benedykt, Gustaw, Jadwiga, Emil, Zygfryd, Adelejda, Igor, Aleksander, Jarogniew, and Malwina.
The only name she knew of in all these papers that wasn't mentioned was Olga. Considering that Zbigniew had died when Dad had been twelve, Olga would still have been alive, and considering all the others had been named, Keeleigh had to think those were the names of all his children.
Emil and Zygfryd were the two boys older than Aunt Kornelia, Adelejda was the little girl, and Olga would fit as the girl around Aunt Kornelia's age.
All of this evidence pointed to there having been four more children, two great aunts, and two great uncles, all of whom she'd never heard of, and all references to whom had been hidden away in this trunk for reasons Keeleigh couldn't begin to guess.
This meant that the Adelejda she'd seen at Aunt Malwina's funeral was Great Aunt Adelejda, and she lived not all that far away in Opal, from where she'd been sending Christmas cards faithfully for over sixty years, even without response from any of her siblings.
Keeleigh crossed her arms and surveyed the papers around her. Why had she never heard of them? What sort of dishonourable thing had one — or all — of them done to deserve the ostracism which they'd received?"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Secrets and Shadows: Day 9

Word Count: 54,025

Summary of Events:
Keeleigh talked with her dad's cousins Frank and Richie about the trunk, which they were getting tired of trying to find, and helped them to set up for the collector's auction without them seeming to suspect her of having the trunk at all. Emil and Zygfryd worked to shore up the walls on the upper floors of the house, which had been damaged by the explosive force of a bomb knocking the house next door into their own. Keeleigh finally had some time to look in the trunk again and found some letters written and signed by a man named Zygfryd . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"At the end of the letter it was signed Zygfryd again, and when Keeleigh went to return the letter to the envelope she discovered that there was a photo inside.
Pulling it out, Keeleigh looked at it. The young man looked somewhat sober, but still quite handsome. Keeleigh noticed a scar on his right cheek, and that his right ear looked a little bit misshapen, compared to his left ear.
He was dressed in Keeleigh's favourite suit style, three-piece, with a boutonniere, and a kerchief in the suit jacket's upper pocket.
One arm hung straight at his side, and the other disappeared behind the woman he was standing beside.
Her hair was styled in unquestionably 1940s fashion, small curls starting at ear-level and going down to the shoulders, if that, with a small hat covering her straight hair, to which was fastened a short white veil that went over her eyes and nose, but didn't really obscure them because it was a large-hole netting.
She was also wearing an unquestionably 1940s dress, having a bodice that hugged her upper body and smoothly transitioned into an understated A-line skirt that didn't take up too much fabric — keeping consistent with wartime responsibility.
In her hands was a nice, round bouquet, but Keeleigh couldn't tell what sort of flowers made it up, other than that they were probably small baby's breath-types. No roses. Of course that would've been frivolity in wartime, even in Canada.
The young woman's outfit proved conclusively that it was a wedding picture, and it seemed to be a wedding picture of Zygfryd and probably the Helen he was referring to.
Keeleigh turned to the stack of photos and took the one dated 1938 — the most recent one she had — which she held up alongside the wedding picture.
Intently she looked between the two of them, mainly at the young men in the middle of the family picture, and the somewhat more mature young man in the wedding picture.
She couldn't tell which one of the boys Zygfryd was, but she was more than convinced that he was one of them. He was her great uncle.
Setting the photos aside, she went to the next letter, but then stopped, feeling suddenly cold. He hadn't died. If he was alive in 1946 then he'd come to Canada with them.
So then why had she never known him? Why had she never even at least heard about him? Had he done something to alienate himself from the family? What could he have possibly done that would've caused that? Was this Helen he'd married of German blood?
She took up the letter again and scanned it. Not once was Helen's surname mentioned.
Quickly she took up the next letter, which she found was dated 1943, and was chiefly concerned with Olga and Irena again. There was no mention of his wife — or possibly wife-to-be at that time — in the letter."