Unformatted text preview: nducing the wood to groan, she almost stopped. The mayor’s wife was not deterred. She only looked briefly behind and continued on, to a
chestnut-colored door. Now her face asked a question.
Are you ready?
Liesel craned her neck a little, as if she might see over the door that stood in her way. Clearly, that was the cue
to open it.
“Jesus, Mary . . .”
She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere!
Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork.
There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the everycolored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.
With wonder, she smiled.
That such a room existed!
Even when she tried to wipe the smile away with her forearm, she realized instantly that it was a pointless
exercise. She could feel the eyes of the woman traveling her body, and when she looked at her, they had rested
on her face.
There was more silence than she ever thought possible. It extended like an elastic, dying to break. The girl
The two words stood among acres and acres of vacant, wooden-floored land. The books were miles away.
The woman nodded.
Yes, you can.
Steadily, the room shrank, till the book thief could touch the shelves within a few small steps. She ran the back
of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each
book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One
shelf against the other. And she laughed. Her voice was sprawled out, high in her throat, and when she
eventually stopped and stood in the middle of the room, she spent many minutes looking from the shelves to her
fingers and back again.
How many books had she touched?
How many had she felt?
She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward, allowing the do...
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- Winter '13