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Unformatted text preview: re punishable. “For starters,” he said, “I will take each and every one of your books— and I will burn them.” It was callous.
“I’ll throw them in the stove or the fireplace.” He was certainly acting like a tyrant, but it was necessary.
The shock made a hole in her, very neat, very precise.
“Next.” He had to remain hard, and he needed to strain for it. “They’ll take you away from me. Do you want
She was crying now, in earnest. “Nein.”
“Good.” His grip on her hand tightened. “They’ll drag that man up there away, and maybe Mama and me, too—
and we will never, ever come back.”
And that did it.
The girl began to sob so uncontrollably that Papa was dying to pull her into him and hug her tight. He didn’t.
Instead, he squatted down and watched her directly in the eyes. He unleashed his quietest words so far.
“Verstehst du mich?” Do you understand me?”
The girl nodded. She cried, and now, defeated, broken, her papa held her in the painted air and the kerosene
“I understand, Papa, I do.”
Her voice was muffled against his body, and they stayed like that for a few minutes, Liesel with squashed
breath and Papa rubbing her back.
Upstairs, when they returned, they found Mama sitting in the kitchen, alone and pensive. When she saw them,
she stood and beckoned Liesel to come over, noticing the dried-up tears that streaked her. She brought the girl
into her and heaped a typically rugged embrace around her body. “Alles gut, Saumensch?”
She didn’t need an answer.
Everything was good.
But it was awful, too. THE SLEEPER
Max Vandenburg slept for three days.
In certain excerpts of that sleep, Liesel watched him. You might say that by the third day it became an
obsession, to check on him, to see if he was still breathing. She could now interpret his signs of life, from the
movement of his lips, his gathering beard, and the twigs of hair that moved ever so slightly when his head
twitched in the dream state.
Often, when she stood over him, there was the mortifying thought that he had just woken up, his eyes splitting
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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