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Unformatted text preview: lted the mayor’s wife and told her to stop crying over
her dead son. I called her pathetic. That was when they fired you. Here.” She walked to the wooden spoons,
grabbed a handful, and placed them in front of her. “Take your pick.”
Rosa touched one and picked it up, but she did not wield it. “I don’t believe you.”
Liesel was torn between distress and total mystification. The one time she desperately wanted a Watschen and
she couldn’t get one! “It’s my fault.”
“It’s not your fault,” Mama said, and she even stood and stroked Liesel’s waxy, unwashed hair. “I know you
wouldn’t say those things.”
“I said them!” “All right, you said them.”
As Liesel left the room, she could hear the wooden spoons clicking back into position in the metal jar that held
them. By the time she reached her bedroom, the whole lot of them, the jar included, were thrown to the floor.
Later, she walked down to the basement, where Max was standing in the dark, most likely boxing with the
“Max?” The light dimmed on—a red coin, floating in the corner. “Can you teach me how to do the push-ups?”
Max showed her and occasionally lifted her torso to help, but despite her bony appearance, Liesel was strong
and could hold her body weight nicely. She didn’t count how many she could do, but that night, in the glow of
the basement, the book thief completed enough push-ups to make her hurt for several days. Even when Max
advised her that she’d already done too many, she continued.
In bed, she read with Papa, who could tell something was wrong. It was the first time in a month that he’d come
in and sat with her, and she was comforted, if only slightly. Somehow, Hans Hubermann always knew what to
say, when to stay, and when to leave her be. Perhaps Liesel was the one thing he was a true expert at.
“Is it the washing?” he asked.
Liesel shook her head.
Papa hadn’t shaved for a few days and he rubbed the scratchy whiskers every two or three minutes. His silver
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- Winter '13