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Unformatted text preview: ths. It lasted half an hour or so
until he asked a question of Max.
“Did you learn?”
The face in the corner watched the flames. “I did.” There was a considerable pause. “Until I was nine. At that
age, my mother sold the music studio and stopped teaching. She kept only the one instrument but gave up on me
not long after I resisted the learning. I was foolish.”
“No,” Papa said. “You were a boy.” During the nights, both Liesel Meminger and Max Vandenburg would go about their other similarity. In their
separate rooms, they would dream their nightmares and wake up, one with a scream in drowning sheets, the
other with a gasp for air next to a smoking fire.
Sometimes, when Liesel was reading with Papa close to three o’clock, they would both hear the waking
moment of Max. “He dreams like you,” Papa would say, and on one occasion, stirred by the sound of Max’s
anxiety, Liesel decided to get out of bed. From listening to his history, she had a good idea of what he saw in
those dreams, if not the exact part of the story that paid him a visit each night.
She made her way quietly down the hallway and into the living and bedroom.
The whisper was soft, clouded in the throat of sleep.
To begin with, there was no sound of reply, but he soon sat up and searched the darkness.
With Papa still in her bedroom, Liesel sat on the other side of the fireplace from Max. Behind them, Mama
loudly slept. She gave the snorer on the train a good run for her money.
The fire was nothing now but a funeral of smoke, dead and dying, simultaneously. On this particular morning,
there were also voices.
THE SWAPPING OF NIGHTMARES
The girl: “Tell me. What do you see
when you dream like that?”
The Few: “. . . I see myself turning
around, and waving goodbye.”
The girl: “I also have nightmares.”
The Few: “What do you see?”
The girl: “A train, and my dead brother.”
The Few: “Your brother?”
The girl: “He died when I moved
here, on the way.”
The girl and the Few, together: “F...
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- Winter '13