I pull through the disjointed figures, with faces I take in with a bleary sort of recognition. I see bullet-proof eyes, a woman of wire, splintered hair, the Jew in the basement, a boy with a nervous twitch, the man with the singing accordion and the cardboard lady I call mother. I see a fluffy haired woman in a sea of books, a dead brother, a cold train ride, and then, through the blurry memories, I see gangly blue eyes and a lopsided smile. A book held high in the air, above the rushing water with triumph. I see pine-nettles and bread, a suit shop, a broken mannequin. I see a sack of stolen apples, a dirty snowball, three gold medals, a kiss waiting to be stolen and a pair of shoes. And at last, a charcoal boy dashing the streets, cheering for Jesse Owens, a grin slapped across his sooty face. We move towards each other, like two people in a dream, and I feel my bones harden, the wrinkles melt away, my hair grow, falling in blonde braids down my shoulders, and I am just a carefree girl again. I know that this is our moment, just ours; I would see the others in good time, but I had waited so long to see this boy, and it would not wait. We collide, our breath being knocked from our lungs from the impact, and we hold on tight, not speaking, not caring. After what seems like forever, we pull away from each other.
Kiss him, Liesel.
I wasn't going to wait this time. I lean forward, and our lips meet. This time, there is no dirt, no rubble, no hell around us. Maybe I am in heaven, maybe not. But wherever I am, I have all I need. What if? I think as we kiss softly. What if he had lived? What if?
I stared into his blue eyes, and I see myself, my life, my childhood, reflected in them.
"Saumensch," he murmurs, and I punch him in the slender shoulder. Just like it was before.