When I was about three, my mom said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I think she was expecting me to say, “A mommy, like you.” Instead, I popped off with, “I want to be a writer.” I can still remember her face. She said, “Well, don’t you think you need to learn to read first?”
I didn’t think so.
Terry Bohle Montague is a BYU graduate and a free-lance writer, having written for television, radio, newspaper, and magazines including The Ensign and Meridian Magazine. She has also been published as the author of book length historical non-fiction and fiction.
Her non-fiction work includes the book, Mine Angels Round About, the story of the LDS West German Mission evacuation of 1939 which occurred only days before the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Her LDS fiction, Fireweed, is loosely based on her interviews with the evacuated West German missionaries and their families.
Terry studied with Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham, as well as David Farland. Her writing awards include those from LDS Storymakers, Idaho Writers’ League, and Romance Writers of America.en from her as her beautiful city is reduced to rubble.
With fear and despair rising within, it is through her quiet, compassionate father that Lisel discovers faith and hope. Now, in a desperate journey to find her sister, Lisel and her neighbor flee Berlin and the advancing Russians for Frankfurt, a city under the protection of the Allies. But their flight to safety is filled with pain, hunger, and terror. However, with spiritual lessons and blessings from her father, the support of departed loved ones, and her tried but undying faith in a loving Heavenly Father, perhaps Lisel can emerge like the fireweed—rising strong and beautiful from scorched earth —transforming bitterness and despair into a charity that never faileth.
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Excerpt 2Lisel put her arm around Susanne’s shoulder. “Hush now. It will be all right soon.” Lisel heard the returning hum of the airplane. She tilted back her head as if she could see skyward, but there was only the white plaster of the ceiling above her. From the movement of the sound, Lisel knew the aircraft had banked and was circling back. As it drew closer, the sound became angrier, the hum of a fierce buzz. Lisel pulled in a deep breath and squeezed it in her throat.
Then she heard it. The shrill whistle of the plummeting bomb. Next to her, Susanne screamed. Lisel pulled Susanne down so they both crouched low to the floor, their arms over their heads.
The explosion rocked the walls. The light went out. Lisel heard the bursting, shattering glass from the windows upstairs. She heard the panicked screaming of the other women. Plaster dust from the ceiling swirled around her and she choked. It seemed any moment the walls would give way. But they stood.
For three hours, the women of the Wittenau Munitions Works huddled in the dark cellar and listened to the battle above them. Lisel and Susanne held each other. Under her breath, Lisel
prayed. “Please, Father. Please protect us. Please protect Papa and Marta and Michael and Kurt. Please make it stop.”
Some of the time, repeating the prayer blocked the sounds of the aircraft motors and bombs and explosions. Some of the time, horrifying visions of Papa and Marta under tons of brick flashed with searing clarity through her mind. Some of the time, she thought of Michael and wondered if this is what it was like for him. Except she knew it must be worse. Michael would be outside, unprotected from bombs and bullets and shrapnel. And some of the time, she wondered where Kurt was and prayed for him, too.
She prayed for the anti-aircraft gunners. And at the same, in her desperation to have it end, she prayed the gunners’ mark would be true. Some of the time, Lisel envisioned her own death and knew she could not survive the night. The basement of the Wittenau Munitions Works would be her grave.
The “all clear” came at nearly three-thirty. Lisel and Susanne pulled each other up. “Is it over, then?” Susanne asked.
“Yes,” Lisel answered. The bombing was over but the fear was not. She must get home to Papa and Marta.
Lisel followed the other women out of the cellar. Her legs ached and her knees shook under her weight. She hesitated at the door, certain to the bottom of her heart that her world had been destroyed. Papa and Marta were crushed beneath their burning apartment house.
“What a mess,” she heard one of the women declare.
Lisel stepped into the workroom. Glass was everywhere. Tables were turned over. Grenades scattered across the floor. An odor of phosphorus hung in the air. She ran to the glassless window. Next door, in an empty lot, a huge, black crater smoked. Lisel searched the city in the direction of her home. The red glow of firelight showed where bombs had fallen but, to Lisel’s surprise, the glowing spots were few. A tiny hope let itself shine. Perhaps Papa and Marta were safe after all. With anxiety at her heels, Lisel ran toward the door.
“Workers!” Herr Hahn shouted.
Reluctantly, she stopped. There would be serious trouble for her now if she left. Stilling her feet, she turned.
“Our glorious defense system has defeated the enemy and driven him out,” Herr Hahn said. “Now, we must also defeat the enemy. We will prove our superiority by finishing tonight’s quota along with our quota tomorrow night.”
Lisel waited only as second more before she bolted for the door. A hundred women came right behind her.
The scheduled train was late that morning. Someone thought the tracks might have been damaged in the bombing. A huge knot of worry tightened in Lisel’s stomach until she thought she would throw up. She fought back her nausea by pacing the wood floor of the dark, crowded railway station.
Mutely, Susanne sat on a bench, her fingers bunching and unbunching. Some women, like Susanne, sat in silence, muffling sobs. Other women, in frustration, decided to walk to their homes. Lisel dismissed the idea. For her walk would take hours and if Papa had survived, he might try to come to Wittenau for her and they would miss each other. She would wait here for a train.
At last, with the sun shining through the low, gray clouds, Lisel boarded her homeward train. Then, she ran all the way to her street. Nowhere did she see any damage at all. Her heart nursed a renewed hope.
At her corner, Lisel leaned against the lamppost, breathless and weak with relief. Her apartment house still stood, tall and stone-faced, looking as it had always looked. “Thank you, Father,” she breathed.
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