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Unformatted text preview: doing?!” he wailed, and only then, after the third or fourth slap and a trickle of bright blood from
his nose, did she stop.
On her knees, she sucked in the air and listened to the groans beneath her. She watched the whirlpool of faces,
left and right, and she announced, “I’m not stupid.”
No one argued.
It was only when everyone moved back inside and Sister Maria saw the state of Ludwig Schmeikl that the fight
resumed. First, it was Rudy and a few others who bore the brunt of suspicion. They were always at each other.
“Hands,” each boy was ordered, but every pair was clean.
“I don’t believe this,” the sister muttered. “It can’t be,” because sure enough, when Liesel stepped forward to
show her hands, Ludwig Schmeikl was all over them, rusting by the moment. “The corridor,” she stated for the
second time that day. For the second time that hour, actually.
This time, it was not a small Watschen. It was not an average one. This time, it was the mother of all corridor
Watschens, one sting of the stick after another, so that Liesel would barely be able to sit down for a week. And
there was no laughter from the room. More the silent fear of listening in.
At the end of the school day, Liesel walked home with Rudy and the other Steiner children. Nearing Himmel
Street, in a hurry of thoughts, a culmination of misery swept over her—the failed recital of The Grave Digger’s
Handbook, the demolition of her family, her nightmares, the humiliation of the day—and she crouched in the
gutter and wept. It all led here.
Rudy stood there, next to her.
It began to rain, nice and hard.
Kurt Steiner called out, but neither of them moved. One sat painfully now, among the falling chunks of rain,
and the other stood next to her, waiting.
“Why did he have to die?” she asked, but still, Rudy did nothing; he said nothing.
When finally she finished and stood herself up, he put his arm around her, best-buddy style, and they walked
on. There was no request for a kiss. Nothing like that. You can love Rudy for that, if you...
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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