Colours are very important. Every microscopic pigment somehow holds a great significance to a person’s life. And death.
Colours come in the sky… or in the eyes, if one died with one’s eyes open ; which, I suppose is usually the way they do die at times like this. Eyes wide open. Not ready. Not even prepared to feel the things humans feel when they know they’re going to die. Shock. Fear. Anger. Acceptance. Sadness.
And suddenly, Nothing.
They don’t ever get to feel a thing before they go. I suppose that is a good thing…if one was not human. And so I look into their blank eyes and watch the pale white surround the black pupil. A blood red begins to surround the white and soon, I am overcome by a sight I have seen too many times. I’ve seen it wave across the country. I have seen aircrafts fall into the ground, I have seen buildings burn in the name of it, I have carried the souls of millions with that very symbol etched in their frozen eyes.
~* An ironic ending *~
The Fuhrer’s eyes were closed after he pulled the trigger. His beady eyes were cowardly pinched at the edges while his mustache remained in its dignified square.
And what was colour of the sky, you might ask? Well, on the 30th April 1945, the sky was as clear as day. With clouds as thin as tightropes towards the Sun.
But to Liesel Meminger, it was the colour of the Sun she was more concerned of.
~* In which Liesel has a melancholic memory *~
The boy stood waist deep in the chilly waters. His right hand clutching the book thief’s prized possession. The Whistler it was called, was drenched in rivulets of ice water. Rudy had a triumph smile on his face. He had saved it. He had jumped into the river and saved it. And as he made his way towards her, he felt his bony shoulders shake with adrenaline. A familiar question aching at his lips. He couldn’t help it. After all those years, he had promised not to say it. But he did. He had to.
“How about a kiss, Saumensch?”
Little did he know, that he never would have gotten the chance. Not until he watched her do so while being carried away in my arms. He watched her kiss his ashen face. Limp and lifeless. He turned away. He didn’t want to see her cry.
~* The colour of the Sun *~
It was victory that day. The Fuhrer, finally slain by his own hand. The book thief glanced at the shining ball of fire in the sky. Lemon yellow.
It wasn’t yellow. No, Rudy’s hair was a dirty shade of grey when his body was found in the rubble. If it had been any other moment, he would have laughed at the joke and be reminded of the day he had painted himself black from head to toe. “And the crowd goes wild! Jesse Owens across the finish line! Like lightning,” he commentated his imaginary victory as he completed his 100m feat. And Alex Steiner would merely shake his head, reassuring himself that every family of six was bound to have an odd ball. The charcoal boy with the lemon yellow hair.
Little did Alex Steiner know, that as he mended the uniforms of his fellow soldiers in the barracks, his family of six were fast asleep, unknowing to the several bombs that had been dropped from the sky.
~* In which Liesel was saved by a book and Alex Steiner, the army *~
Max Vandenburg was minutes from being caught by Nazis when he thought about the little girl who saved his life. The girl who sat with him in her basement and watched in awe as the young man fought the Fuhrer in an imaginary ring. The girl who brought him crosswords every morning and warmed by the fire with him every night.
The German girl who didn’t think him as a Jew but a friend.
His Word Shaker. His Book Thief.
Little did he know, that during that moment, in the basement in which he used to hide in, she was reading his book. The Stand Over Man, it was called, hand written, illustrated pages, recycled from the torn pages of the best selling book ‘Mein Kemph’ by Adolf Hitler.
Liesel’s eyes didn’t miss a word as she smiled at the ending.
“Now I think, we are friends, this girl and me. On her birthday, it was she who gave a gift to me. It makes me understand that the best stand over man I’ve ever known is not a man at all…”
And then there was a bomb. And then there was black.
It was only then did I almost get a taste of emotion. The powerful feeling that hits you like tidal wave. I could feel it – a hint of it. It was painful. One would think death would be something I’m used to. Death is my name. My first, my middle, my last. And yet, when I saw the book thief that day, it almost hurt to know that she was alive.
I watched her as she examined each body. Mama. Papa. Rudy.
Everyone gone in a blink of an eye. And unlike Rudy, I watched the tears that streamed down her face. I was not human.
Instead, I reached for their souls. Papa sat up, the smell of cigarettes still lingering around his form. A scent that she had gotten so used to in their time together.
~* When Liesel met Papa *~
She observed a strangeness in her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.
I saw the same strangeness as he awaited my arrival with a sad fondness upon his lips. He was not looking at me. “Liesel,” he said.
Mama put up a fight, as expected. And her wide range of vocabulary served her well. Well enough to think of her step daughter. She watched painfully as her Liesel bent over her lifeless body – muttering words fiercely as her eyes watered some more. Rosa Hubermann wanted to hear but she couldn’t, I didn’t let her.”Saumensch,” Rosa swore affectionately.
~* The unspoken words to Mama *~
God damn it, mama. You were so beautiful.
I hurried on. There was no time to waste. However, the book theif was always an exception. Time could afford to be spared, if not a fraction of a colour.
~* Rudy’s kindness repaid. *~
From the tool box, the boy took out, out of all things, a teddy bear.
He reached in through the torn windsheild and placed it on the pilot’s chest.
The stealer became a giver.
Thievery was something he had given up a long time ago. Perhaps it was that gnawing feeling in your gut whenever you do it. He never knew how Liesel managed it everyday.
He struggled to catch the pilot’s words. “Thank you,” said the dying man with the bear at his chest.
But alas, the pilot was no more.
Little did Rudy know, that the plane that landed there would be one of the same to the few that ended his life.
Which was why I wasn’t surprised at the forlorn expression on his dusty face. He was thin lipped and his eyes still tired from sleep. And for one moment, I almost didn’t want to tell him.
Oh, but he knew. And he was just disappointed. Dissapointed at everything he would miss out. His soul stayed rooted on the ground as I tried to pick it up, it stared longingly at the Book Thief. He had wanted to tell her something, but he couldn’t remember now. It was familiar and he promised he would never say it again. Then, his eyebrows perked sadly and a smile touched his lips.
It was as if he was looking forward to something. Something he would never get a chance to achieve. Memories from their childhood flooded in. How about a kiss Saumensch?
Rudy Steiner was nothing if not ordinary. So it would not be wrong if I had expected the colour of the sky to be the same. Perhaps, it would be black, I thought to myself, in honour of his idol, Jesse Owens. Or a chocolate coloured sky, one of my personal favorites.
I was wrong.
Rudy’s was neither.
~* Truth *~
Coffee brown was stained with tears as she pressed her chapped lips against his dead ones. The sky was deep brown, the colour of Liesel’s eyes.