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There was the constant rise and fall of her stomach, and the futile hopes that they’d lose their way or change
their minds. Among it all, her thoughts couldn’t help turning toward her mother, back at the Bahnhof, waiting to
leave again. Shivering. Bundled up in that useless coat. She’d be eating her nails, waiting for the train. The
platform would be long and uncomfortable—a slice of cold cement. Would she keep an eye out for the
approximate burial site of her son on the return trip? Or would sleep be too heavy?
The car moved on, with Liesel dreading the last, lethal turn.
The day was gray, the color of Europe.
Curtains of rain were drawn around the car.
“Nearly there.” The foster care lady, Frau Heinrich, turned around and smiled. “Dein neues Heim. Your new
Liesel made a clear circle on the dribbled glass and looked out. A PHOTO OF HIMMEL STREET
The buildings appear to be glued together, mostly small houses
and apartment blocks that look nervous.
There is murky snow spread out like carpet.
There is concrete, empty hat-stand trees, and gray air.
A man was also in the car. He remained with the girl while Frau Heinrich disappeared inside. He never spoke.
Liesel assumed he was there to make sure she wouldn’t run away or to force her inside if she gave them any
trouble. Later, however, when the trouble did start, he simply sat there and watched. Perhaps he was only the
last resort, the final solution.
After a few minutes, a very tall man came out. Hans Hubermann, Liesel’s foster father. On one side of him was
the medium-height Frau Heinrich. On the other was the squat shape of Rosa Hubermann, who looked like a
small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it. There was a distinct waddle to her walk. Almost cute, if it wasn’t for
her face, which was like creased-up cardboard and annoyed, as if she was merely tolerating all of it. Her
husband walked straight, with a cigarette smoldering between his fingers. He rolled his own.
The fact was this:
Liesel would not get out of the car.
“Was ist los m...
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- Winter '13