a man three thirds asleep
RudyLiesel -- because Liesel's lips are redder than the molten sky and the thought of them is killing him. Was that it?

a / n; The title is a variation of a line from an e. e. cummings poem. I'm actually somewhat fond of this even though I'm not sure I should be taking a stab at one of the best books I've read in many years. Still, I think we were all left with a bit of a bruise from Rudy's death.

Rudy does not see Death straddling the bombs as they fall like heavy hearts from aluminum birds.

He does not see him crouching at the windowpane or saluting the Fuhrer as he enters Frau Diller's shop. Rudy sees nothing but his eyelids and red, and he's safe and sound thinking it's Liesel's lips he sees and not the molten atmosphere.

He dreams in little-girl's-lips red. He dreams they're in the air raid shelter wondering about what bombs did to a man-- 'What's left? Ash? Dust? Bits of skin and teeth?' 'Who cares, Saumensch?'. He dreams they're stealing apples and laughing and basking in the raw criminal-ness of it. He dreams he's Jesse Owens and it doesn't matter if people think him subhuman or Hitler won't shake his hand because he's won and that's all he needs to catch the book thief by the mouth, even if her face comes away looking like a charcoal smudge.

He dreams he'd never stopped asking her for a kiss, because his heart feels as heavy as the bombs he doesn't know are coming and the red of her mouth is so intense it's killing him, burning him, throwing him to the street with its clarity.

'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Liesel, you're killing me!'