It had been three days since the bombings. In those days, many things were accomplished. Many emotions disclosed and two children who would learn the aftermath of tragedy. Liesel and Rudy didn't waste any time seeking help. After their little scene on the dusty streets, it occurred to them the extent of what just happened. They remembered that they were in the middle of a world war, and that maybe they should focus on more important matters. But where to begin? Liesel was sure there were some LSE men wandering around somewhere, but once they reached the bomb squad, what then? Would Liesel and Rudy be separated? Perhaps taken to orphanages?
* *Some Things to Ease Any Confusion* *
Liesel and Rudy would not be taken away.
They would not be separated.
Instead, they would meet some friends.
Some unexpected friends.
Rudy grabbed Liesel's hand, and together they weaved through the streets. I left for a while to collect souls, and when I returned, they were talking to an LSE man. Rudy seemed to sense my presence, like feeling the aura of an old enemy, and tensed up. He looked up at me and stared for a few minutes. I could see it in his eyes. A terrified question. Du bist nicht hier, für mich bist du? You're not here for me, are you? No. I was not there for Rudy. When I shook my head, he relaxed, but every few minutes would peak a glance up to see if I was still there watching him. What was there to be afraid of?
* *Something that Only a Human Would Understand * *
Something that I still Ponder.
There was loneliness to be afraid of.
There was suffering to be afraid of.
There was death to be afraid of.
"How long have you two been out here?" The LSE man asked the children. They looked at each other in confusion? How long were they out there for? Minutes? Hours? Days?
"We don't know," Liesel answered. There was some silence and finally Rudy spoke up.
"What is going to happen to us?" It was the man's turn to stand in disorientation.
"I don't know."
Everyone wanted to see the children that had survived. They were curious as to if they knew them and who they were. Who were these children who cheated death. Literally. A crowd formed around Liesel and Rudy, and suddenly the children knew that people wouldn't easily send them away to some children's home. There was so much noise and commotion, that when someone starting calling the names of the children, no one heard him. The man was in the back of the crowd, with tears running down his cheeks. He pushed people aside and made his way to the front. When someone recognized him, all it took was one order for action to take place.
* *A Demanding Outburst* *
Bewegen Sie beiseite! Es ist der Vater des Jungen!
"It's the boy's father."
Heads turned to the man. He was in a Nazi uniform and was frozen in the midst of the crowd. His blonde hair was filthy, like he hadn't bathed in months. Rudy was stunned. He honestly couldn't believe that his father was here. Alex Steiner ran up to his son, but stopped a meter away from him. He took in the boy and his friend. Rudy smelt like Death. Him and Liesel were covered in tears, ash, and sadness. They stood hand in hand and looked a little shocked from the whole experience. It still hadn't dawned on Rudy that his entire family, excluding his father and Liesel, were all dead now. Finally Alex inched forward toward his son. Liesel let go of Rudy's hand and pushed him forward.
"Go Saukerl," she muttered.
Rudy stumbled forward and crashed into his father. Liesel watched with a sad smile on her face. Was her Papa watching her right now wishing he was with her? I reached into my arms and pulled out Hans Hubermann. I leaned him down to his daughter's ear and he whispered some reassuring words to her. It was when she covered her face and cried, that I was aware of something. She heard him.
* *In Order to Speed Things Along* *
For the people in Germany, there was Frieden.
This is where the story takes flight. Where the gruesome details are over and all the heartbroken tears have been shed. You see, a time after war is a happy time, even if your country had lost. I took the complete pleasure of skipping through time for you. I've decided to ignore the part of this tale where our protagonists are forced to go to their loved one's funeral. Why dwell on a bitter past?
Liesel now lives with Rudy and his father. All together, they re-opened the tailoring shop. Business wasn't particularly fast, but occasionally people would drop by to see how the children were doing. One day, while Rudy and Liesel were eating breakfast in the morning, a strange man walked into the building. He had a stubbly beard and looked no older than thirty. The man looked exhausted, like he had been searching for something for a long time.
* *A Quick Note* *
You know and I know
who that man is.
Alex Steiner was one who didn't.
"Is Liesel Meminger here?"the man asked. Several people had visited Liesel before. They wanted to shake her hand and kiss her forehead. They called her the "Young Girl of Bravery." Bravery for doing what? Stealing books?
Alex looked at the man and came the conclusion that he wasn't here to shake her hand and call her the Girl of Bravery. When Alex didn't answer, the man persisted. "They said I might find her here. A young lady with blonde hair and brown eyes? Loves books?" Panic in his voice. Would he have to look forever?
In the back of the building, Rudy was in the middle of teasing Liesel. She thought she heard someone in the front of the house say her name. She covered Rudy's mouth with her hand.
"Quiet Saukerl, I'm trying to listen!" The man's voice sounded awfully familiar. Perhaps a bit older from when she had last heard it. But the real question was, who was it? Having decided to take matters into her own hands, Liesel walked into the main room. She pushed aside the suits and brushed by the scent of mothballs.
"Is someone looking for..." Liesel trailed off. She found herself incapable of continuing the sentence. She stared at the man and wondered how exactly he had found her.
* *Things to Add About the Situation* *
man was undoubtedly Max Vandenburg.
was one of the very few Jews that survived the holocaust.
hadn't gotten an inch taller, but you could tell he aged from his face.
knew that Liesel survived the bombing. It simply would not have been fair. Max was the one who was supposed to die. Not the blonde haired German girl.
Liesel jumped into Max, embracing him and kissing his cheek. She started to cry out of pure happiness. Max stood in a state of shock. After a few moments, he heard Liesel mutter his name and the shock was broken. Max's eyes watered and he wrapped his long, stocky arms around the girl.
"What's going on?" Rudy asked walking into the room. He couldn't help but feel a little pang of jealousy. A strange man was hugging his girlfriend. Liesel pulled away from Max and smiled at Rudy.
"It looks like you aren't the only one who survived," she said happily. Rudy took in the man. He tried to remember if he had ever seen him. His appearance only seemed familiar through words, and he was sure he had never seen the man's face.
"You're Rudy, aren't you?" Max asked. Still feeling a bit unsure of himself, he nodded. Max's face broke out into a grin. "That's great!" Rudy couldn't help but smile. He remembered now. He remembered the Jew Liesel held safe in her basement.
"Max it's good to finally meet you," Rudy said holding out his hand to be shaken.
* *A Small Bit of Information* *
It's funny how a small friendship can grow
The friendship between Liesel, Rudy, Max, and Alex
would turn into something large.
That would grow
and expand the story.