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Unformatted text preview: flattened.
Houses were splashed from one side of the street to the other. A framed photo of a very serious-looking Führer
was bashed and beaten on the shattered floor. Yet he smiled, in that serious way of his. He knew something we
all didn’t know. But I knew something he didn’t know. All while people slept.
Rudy Steiner slept. Mama and Papa slept. Frau Holtzapfel, Frau Diller. Tommy Müller. All sleeping. All dying.
Only one person survived.
She survived because she was sitting in a basement reading through the story of her own life, checking for
mistakes. Previously, the room had been declared too shallow, but on that night, October 7, it was enough. The
shells of wreckage cantered down, and hours later, when the strange, unkempt silence settled itself in Molching,
the local LSE could hear something. An echo. Down there, somewhere, a girl was hammering a paint can with a
They all stopped, with bent ears and bodies, and when they heard it again, they started digging.
PASSED ITEMS, HAND TO HAND
Blocks of cement and roof tiles.
A piece of wall with a dripping
sun painted on it. An unhappy- looking accordion, peering
through its eaten case.
They threw all of it upward.
When another piece of broken wall was removed, one of them saw the book thief’s hair.
The man had such a nice laugh. He was delivering a newborn child. “I can’t believe it—she’s alive!”
There was so much joy among the cluttering, calling men, but I could not fully share their enthusiasm.
Earlier, I’d held her papa in one arm and her mama in the other. Each soul was so soft.
Farther away, their bodies were laid out, like the rest. Papa’s lovely silver eyes were already starting to rust, and
Mama’s cardboard lips were fixed half open, most likely the shape of an incomplete snore. To blaspheme like
the Germans—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
The rescuing hands pulled Liesel out and brushed the crumbs of rubble from her clothes. “Young girl,” they
said, “the sirens were too late. What were you doing in the basement? H...
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- Winter '13