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In September, they did not hear it as they slept.
Either the radio was already half broken, or it was swallowed immediately by the crying sound of sirens.
A hand was shoved gently at Liesel’s shoulder as she slept.
Papa’s voice followed it in, afraid.
“Liesel, wake up. We have to go.”
There was the disorientation of interrupted sleep, and Liesel could barely decipher the outline of Papa’s face.
The only thing truly visible was his voice.
In the hallway, they stopped.
“Wait,” said Rosa.
Through the dark, they rushed to the basement.
The lamp was lit.
Max edged out from behind the paint cans and drop sheets. His face was tired and he hitched his thumbs
nervously into his pants. “Time to go, huh?”
Hans walked to him. “Yes, time to go.” He shook his hand and slapped his arm. “We’ll see you when we get
Rosa hugged him, as did Liesel.
Weeks earlier, they’d discussed whether they should all stay together in their own basement or if the three of
them should go down the road, to a family by the name of Fiedler. It was Max who convinced them. “They said
it’s not deep enough here. I’ve already put you in enough danger.”
Hans had nodded. “It’s a shame we can’t take you with us. It’s a disgrace.” “It’s how it is.”
Outside, the sirens howled at the houses, and the people came running, hobbling, and recoiling as they exited
their homes. Night watched. Some people watched it back, trying to find the tin-can planes as they drove across
Himmel Street was a procession of tangled people, all wrestling with their most precious possessions. In some
cases, it was a baby. In others, a stack of photo albums or a wooden box. Liesel carried her books, between her
arm and her ribs. Frau Holtzapfel was heaving a suitcase, laboring on the footpath with bulbous eyes and smallstepped feet.
Papa, who’d forgotten everything—even his accordion—rushed back to her and rescued the suitcase from her
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- Winter '13