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Unformatted text preview: ann had just completed rolling a cigarette, having licked the paper and joined it
all up. He looked over at Liesel and winked. She would have no trouble calling him Papa. THE WOMAN WITH THE IRON FIST
Those first few months were definitely the hardest.
Every night, Liesel would nightmare.
Her brother’s face.
Staring at the floor.
She would wake up swimming in her bed, screaming, and drowning in the flood of sheets. On the other side of
the room, the bed that was meant for her brother floated boatlike in the darkness. Slowly, with the arrival of
consciousness, it sank, seemingly into the floor. This vision didn’t help matters, and it would usually be quite a
while before the screaming stopped.
Possibly the only good to come out of these nightmares was that it brought Hans Hubermann, her new papa,
into the room, to soothe her, to love her.
He came in every night and sat with her. The first couple of times, he simply stayed—a stranger to kill the
aloneness. A few nights after that, he whispered, “Shhh, I’m here, it’s all right.” After three weeks, he held her.
Trust was accumulated quickly, due primarily to the brute strength of the man’s gentleness, his thereness. The
girl knew from the outset that Hans Hubermann would always appear midscream, and he would not leave.
A DEFINITION NOT FOUND
IN THE DICTIONARY
Not leaving: an act of trust and love,
often deciphered by children
Hans Hubermann sat sleepy-eyed on the bed and Liesel would cry into his sleeves and breathe him in. Every
morning, just after two o’clock, she fell asleep again to the smell of him. It was a mixture of dead cigarettes,
decades of paint, and human skin. At first, she sucked it all in, then breathed it, until she drifted back down.
Each morning, he was a few feet away from her, crumpled, almost halved, in the chair. He never used the other
bed. Liesel would climb out and cautiously kiss his cheek and he would wake up and smile.
Some days Papa told her to get back into bed and wait a minute, and he would return with his accord...
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- Winter '13