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couldn’t see, let Rudy be safe. His thoughts naturally progressed to Liesel and Rosa and the Steiners, and Max.
When they made it to the rest of the men, he dropped down and lay on his back.
“How was it down there?” someone asked.
Papa’s lungs were full of sky.
A few hours later, when he’d washed and eaten and thrown up, he attempted to write a detailed letter home. His
hands were uncontrollable, forcing him to make it short. If he could bring himself, the remainder would be told
verbally, when and if he made it home. To my dear Rosa and Liesel, he began.
It took many minutes to write those six words down. THE BREAD EATERS
It had been a long and eventful year in Molching, and it was finally drawing to a close.
Liesel spent the last few months of 1942 consumed by thoughts of what she called three desperate men. She
wondered where they were and what they were doing.
One afternoon, she lifted the accordion from its case and polished it with a rag. Only once, just before she put it
away, did she take the step that Mama could not. She placed her finger on one of the keys and softly pumped
the bellows. Rosa had been right. It only made the room feel emptier.
Whenever she met Rudy, she asked if there had been any word from his father. Sometimes he described to her
in detail one of Alex Steiner’s letters. By comparison, the one letter her own papa had sent was somewhat of a
Max, of course, was entirely up to her imagination.
It was with great optimism that she envisioned him walking alone on a deserted road. Once in a while she
imagined him falling into a doorway of safety somewhere, his identity card enough to fool the right person.
The three men would turn up everywhere.
She saw her papa in the window at school. Max often sat with her by the fire. Alex Steiner arrived when she
was with Rudy, staring back at them after they’d slammed the bikes down on Munich Street and looked into the
“Look at those suits,” Rudy would say to her, his head and hands against the glass. “All going to waste.”
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- Winter '13