Unformatted text preview: on, Liesel.”
“She’s reading,” he said. Papa handed Liesel a steadfast smile and a wink. “With me. I’m teaching her. We’re
going to the Amper— upstream, where I used to practice the accordion.”
Now he had her attention.
Mama placed the washing on the table and eagerly worked herself up to the appropriate level of cynicism.
“What did you say?”
“I think you heard me, Rosa.”
Mama laughed. “What the hell could you teach her?” A cardboard grin. Uppercut words. “Like you could read
so much, you Saukerl.”
The kitchen waited. Papa counterpunched. “We’ll take your ironing for you.”
“You filthy—” She stopped. The words propped in her mouth as she considered it. “Be back before dark.”
“We can’t read in the dark, Mama,” Liesel said.
“What was that, Saumensch?”
Papa grinned and pointed at the girl. “Book, sandpaper, pencil,” he ordered her, “and accordion!” once she was
already gone. Soon, they were on Himmel Street, carrying the words, the music, the washing.
As they walked toward Frau Diller’s, they turned around a few times to see if Mama was still at the gate,
checking on them. She was. At one point, she called out, “Liesel, hold that ironing straight! Don’t crease it!”
A few steps later: “Liesel, are you dressed warm enough?!” “What did you say?”
“Saumensch dreckiges, you never hear anything! Are you dressed warm enough? It might get cold later!”
Around the corner, Papa bent down to do up a shoelace. “Liesel,” he said, “could you roll me a cigarette?”
Nothing would give her greater pleasure.
Once the ironing was delivered, they made their way back to the Amper River, which flanked the town. It
worked its way past, pointing in the direction of Dachau, the concentration camp.
There was a wooden-planked bridge.
They sat maybe thirty meters down from it, in the grass, writing the words and reading them aloud, and when
darkness was near, Hans pulled out th...
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- Winter '13