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play for her. Liesel would sit up and hum, her cold toes clenched with excitement. No one had ever given her
music before. She would grin herself stupid, watching the lines drawing themselves down his face and the soft
metal of his eyes—until the swearing arrived from the kitchen.
Papa would play a little longer.
He would wink at the girl, and clumsily, she’d wink back.
A few times, purely to incense Mama a little further, he also brought the instrument to the kitchen and played
through breakfast. Papa’s bread and jam would be half eaten on his plate, curled into the shape of bite marks, and the music would
look Liesel in the face. I know it sounds strange, but that’s how it felt to her. Papa’s right hand strolled the
tooth-colored keys. His left hit the buttons. (She especially loved to see him hit the silver, sparkled button—the
C major.) The accordion’s scratched yet shiny black exterior came back and forth as his arms squeezed the
dusty bellows, making it suck in the air and throw it back out. In the kitchen on those mornings, Papa made the
accordion live. I guess it makes sense, when you really think about it.
How do you tell if something’s alive?
You check for breathing. The sound of the accordion was, in fact, also the announcement of safety. Daylight.
During the day, it was impossible to dream of her brother. She would miss him and frequently cry in the tiny
washroom as quietly as possible, but she was still glad to be awake. On her first night with the Hubermanns, she
had hidden her last link to him— The Grave Digger’s Handbook—under her mattress, and occasionally she
would pull it out and hold it. Staring at the letters on the cover and touching the print inside, she had no idea
what any of it was saying. The point is, it didn’t really matter what that book was about. It was what it meant
that was more important.
THE BOOK’S MEANING
1. The last time she saw her brother.
2. The last time she saw h...
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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