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Unformatted text preview: plumpness, holding the wooden spoon at her side like a club. She reached down and
leaked a little. “I’m sorry, Liesel.”
Liesel knew her well enough to understand that it was not for the hiding.
The red marks grew larger, in patches on her skin, as she lay there, in the dust and the dirt and the dim light. Her
breathing calmed, and a stray yellow tear trickled down her face. She could feel herself against the floor. A
forearm, a knee. An elbow. A cheek. A calf muscle.
The floor was cold, especially against her cheek, but she was unable to move.
She would never see her mother again.
For nearly an hour, she remained, spread out under the kitchen table, till Papa came home and played the
accordion. Only then did she sit up and start to recover.
When she wrote about that night, she held no animosity toward Rosa Hubermann at all, or toward her mother
for that matter. To her, they were only victims of circumstance. The only thought that continually recurred was
the yellow tear. Had it been dark, she realized, that tear would have been black.
But it was dark, she told herself.
No matter how many times she tried to imagine that scene with the yellow light that she knew had been there,
she had to struggle to visualize it. She was beaten in the dark, and she had remained there, on a cold, dark
kitchen floor. Even Papa’s music was the color of darkness.
Even Papa’s music. The strange thing was that she was vaguely comforted by that thought, rather than distressed by it.
The dark, the light.
What was the difference?
Nightmares had reinforced themselves in each, as the book thief began to truly understand how things were and
how they would always be. If nothing else, she could prepare herself. Perhaps that’s why on the Führer ’s
birthday, when the answer to the question of her mother’s suffering showed itself completely, she was able to
react, despite her perplexity and her rage.
Liesel Meminger was ready.
Happy birthday, Herr Hitler.
Many happy returns. HITLER’S BIRTH...
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- Winter '13