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When she awoke completely, she watched the stranger in the bed opposite. The blanket showed only a nest of
lopsided hair at the top, and there was not a sound, as if he’d somehow trained himself even to sleep more
quietly. With great care, she walked the length of him, following Papa to the hall.
For the first time ever, the kitchen and Mama were dormant. It was a kind of bemused, inaugural silence. To
Liesel’s relief, it lasted only a few minutes.
There was food and the sound of eating.
Mama announced the day’s priority. She sat at the table and said, “Now listen, Liesel. Papa’s going to tell you
something today.” This was serious—she didn’t even say Saumensch. It was a personal feat of abstinence.
“He’ll talk to you and you have to listen. Is that clear?”
The girl was still swallowing.
“Is that clear, Saumensch?”
That was better.
The girl nodded.
When she reentered the bedroom to fetch her clothes, the body in the opposite bed had turned and curled up. It
was no longer a straight log but a kind of Z shape, reaching diagonally from corner to corner. Zigzagging the
She could see his face now, in the tired light. His mouth was open and his skin was the color of eggshells.
Whiskers coated his jaw and chin, and his ears were hard and flat. He had a small but misshapen nose.
She moved, to the washroom.
Once changed and in the hallway, she realized she would not be traveling far. Papa was standing in front of the
door to the basement. He smiled very faintly, lit the lamp, and led her down.
Among the mounds of drop sheets and the smell of paint, Papa told her to make herself comfortable. Ignited on
the walls were the painted words, learned in the past. “I need to tell you some things.”
Liesel sat on top of a meter-tall heap of drop sheets, Papa on a fifteen-liter paint can. For a few minutes, he
searched for the words. When they came, he stood to deliver them. He rubbed his eyes. “Liesel,” he said quie...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13