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Unformatted text preview: ast three all at once.
“Let’s go, Saukerl.” She even allowed herself a laugh. Eleven-year-old paranoia was powerful. Eleven-year-old
relief was euphoric.
A LITTLE SOMETHING TO
DAMPEN THE EUPHORIA
She had gotten away with nothing.
The mayor’s wife had seen her, all right.
She was just waiting for the right moment.
A few weeks passed.
Soccer on Himmel Street.
Reading The Shoulder Shrug between two and three o’clock each morning, post-nightmare, or during the
afternoon, in the basement.
Another benign visit to the mayor’s house.
All was lovely.
When Liesel next visited, minus Rudy, the opportunity presented itself. It was a pickup day.
The mayor’s wife opened the door and she was not holding the bag, like she normally would. Instead, she
stepped aside and motioned with her chalky hand and wrist for the girl to enter.
“I’m just here for the washing.” Liesel’s blood had dried inside of her. It crumbled. She almost broke into
pieces on the steps.
The woman said her first word to her then. She reached out, cold-fingered, and said, “Warte—wait.” When she
was sure the girl had steadied, she turned and walked hastily back inside.
“Thank God,” Liesel exhaled. “She’s getting it.” It being the washing.
What the woman returned with, however, was nothing of the sort.
When she came and stood with an impossibly frail steadfastness, she was holding a tower of books against her
stomach, from her navel to the beginnings of her breasts. She looked so vulnerable in the monstrous doorway.
Long, light eyelashes and just the slightest twinge of expression. A suggestion.
Come and see, it said.
She’s going to torture me, Liesel decided. She’s going to take me inside, light the fireplace, and throw me in,
books and all. Or she’ll lock me in the basement without any food.
For some reason, though—most likely the lure of the books—she found herself walking in. The squeaking of
her shoes on the wooden floorboards made her cringe, and when she hit a sore spot, i...
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- Winter '13