A Book Thief Xenologue.
By Kai Forrest
It was one month after Mother's death–Dec 1, 1968–and yes, Mother died on Dia de los Muertos, or maybe more commonly known as Day of the Dead or THE Day of the Dead. Whichever you want to call it, she died on November 1st. Which I don't know... is a good sign? Probably, Dia de los Muertos is already the “only” day we can really BE with our loved ones, so I guess that boosts my chances of being with her? Anyway, you're most likely wondering to yourself... “What the hell is he talking about?”–and yes, I'm a “he.”–Let's start at the beginning… not the very beginning, you already read that. (Hopefully, you read my mother's story. If not, go read that first and then come back to this.) Let’s start… right after Mother’s death.
It was a cloudy day, not so cloudy that you couldn't see the sky, but a perfect place right in between. I was at the park just around the corner from our house with my sister Evelyn. We were playing soccer with a few of the other kids from our neighborhood. (Mother always said that she loved soccer when she was our age.) Our team scored a goal, and the scoreboard was 4:3–we were doing first to 5, wins.–The teams were: Team Rhino and Team Avalanche.
(Evelyn and I–or the Wunderkinds–were on Team Avalanche.)
Evelyn was with me flanking from the left to steal the ball from Team Rhino while they were distracted by our goalie blocking their every move. (She was hella awesome and incredibly beautiful.) Her name was Lilith, and I've had a crush on her ever since 6th grade.–She's one of the most beautiful girls at school.–Evelyn says that she doesn't deserve me. (Whatever that means...) Back to the game, we were flanking the left side of the field when Lilith–Goalkeeper–kicked the ball towards us. I secured it safely on the grass and started kicking it towards Team Rhino’s goal when one of their defensive players cut in front of me and tried to get the ball. I kicked it to Evelyn, and she sprinted for their goal. I evaded their defense, and as Evelyn was about to get cornered, she kicked it back to me.
I angled from the outer edge and made one final pass to Evelyn to confuse Team Rhino, and she… SCORED!
“Well done, saumensch!” cried Rudy.
“Ha, ha” replied Evelyn.
“No, he’s right. That score was awesome!” Liam told Evelyn.
Evelyn smiled so big, I thought that her teeth might fall out. She was always like this around Liam even though she denies that she has a crush on him every time I ask.
“Thank you,” Evelyn said as she blushed.
“ANYway… we should probably head home...” suggested Rudy.
“Mother’s waiting for us, remember?”
“Oh... yeah, I guess.”
We waved goodbye to the other kids and started along the path. The leaves were as orange as I had ever seen them, and a storm was coming in. A few minutes later, the sun was now completely hidden away in the grey,–sad,–clouds of the storm, like they knew something was coming that we didn't. It started to rain. We ran through as it showered upon us–it reminded me of when we were younger playing in the sprinklers.–We turned the corner and ran down our block. We stood in front of 49 Russell St; as I opened the door, I immediately knew something was wrong.
“Mother, we’re home!” called Evelyn as she went into the other room.
“EEEEEEE!” screeched Evelyn.
“EVELYN!” cried Rudy.
Rudy ran into the room that Evelyn went into; the second he entered the room, he stopped in his tracks. Evelyn was kneeling on the ground crying, shaking something next to her. It took him a second to see what it was. As he saw it clearly, he fell to the ground next to his sister; tears fought their way out of his eyes as he kneeled next to Evelyn. Lying next to them was their mother, Liesel. She was the only mother they knew,–the only person who loved them,–the only person they had, and now she was gone. Taken away from them, taken away in Death's arms.
“W-w-we n-need to-to go… *sniff*...” tried Rudy.
Evelyn was still lying there crying…
Rudy tried again “C-c'mon...”
Evelyn looked up at Rudy, sniffling. He helped her up, and she hugged him. As they left the room, he took one more look back… trying not to cry himself. (He needed to be strong for Evelyn.) I grabbed our coats and opened the front door.
“W-what-*sniff*-are we do-*sniff*-doing...?” Evelyn tried to get out before crying again.
“We’re...” Rudy tried to figure out what to say.
“*Sniff*… “w-why?” Evelyn asked.
“We can't stay here,” I replied.
She was too tired to reply and let me lead her out of the house. We walked down the street, back the way we came. It was sunset by now and we had nowhere to go, so we just kept walking. We rounded the corner of the park and ran into one of Mother's friends, Amelia. This is not what we needed right now; this is so not what we needed…
“Hi guys, why aren't you both at home with your mother?”
Evelyn jumped slightly when Amelia mentioned Mother. Amelia seemed to notice her and turned her head to now look at Evelyn. I also turned to look at her. (She looked terrible, her whole face was covered with dry tears and was slightly swollen.) After taking a look at Evelyn, she now seemed extremely concerned.
“Is everything okay? Why are you both wandering the street at sunset? Where’s Leisel?”
Evelyn and I both just kinda looked at each other for a moment… Evelyn was too shaken up, so I decided it was best if I explained. Don’t ask me why I did it, but I did. What could I say? “Oh, hey! So our mother just died, aaand we just left, and now we’re walking because we have nowhere to go… yep, just walking…” I couldn't say that even if I could find my words. So I lied.
“We… we decided that it's a nice night for a walk...”
Evelyn sniffled quietly beside me. Between the way Evelyn looked besides me, my terrible lying skills and the fact that we never just take a walk, I could tell that she didn’t buy it.
“Okay… Rudy can you come here for a minute?”
There was no possible way I could ever, ever leave Evelyn after what had happened.
“I-I cant leave Evelyn.”
“Here, let’s go to my place, okay?”
We both nodded and followed her up the street getting farther and farther away from the park... getting farther and farther away from our home... getting farther and farther away from Mother…
As I woke up the next morning, it was like waking up from a bad dream. I was kinda numb from it, and I couldn't feel anything. I went downstairs from the guest room that Evelyn and I slept in last night.–We were in Amelia’s house, 7 Belah Ave–They were already downstairs when I got there. Amelia waved good morning when I came to the breakfast table. Evelyn still looked terrible from the previous night. I said “good morning” to her, it just seemed to bounce right off of her and she seemed to not hear it. Amelia gave me some eggs and bacon–I didn't have an appetite, but I knew that I needed food, so I ate.–I looked over at Evelyn, and there were more dried tears; Amelia also had some so I assumed she had heard the news. After breakfast Evelyn and I sat in the backyard, Evelyn was curled into me and I was resting my head on hers.–It was the first peaceful moment since last night.–(Man, it was nice, but I knew we were not done yet.) We sat there all morning. Until we heard a knock on the door… then arguing, all of a sudden the back door flew open.
A rather devilish woman came out yelling, “under law Section B, page 48, a child may be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, both parents. AND has no godmother or godfather.”
“You can’t do this!” cried Amelia, running out after her.
“I can and I will!” screamed the women even louder.
She grabbed Evelyn and started to pull her to the gate leading to the driveway.
“HEY!” I yelled. “GET OFF OF HER!”
I grabbed Evelyn and yanked her away from the woman.
“NOW YOU DIRTY LITTLE–”
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!”
Amelia was now screaming at the woman while holding a freakin butcher knife!
“IF YOU DON’T LEAVE IN THE NEXT FIVE SECONDS I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL MURDER YOU!”
Evelyn was clutching onto me so hard I was going numb, although I was hugging her like if I let go she was going to get sucked into a blackhole. The woman slowly backed up, shocked that someone was yelling back to her.
“I WILL BE BACK AND I WILL! HAVE THOSE KIDS! WHETHER YOU LIKE IT,OR–”
“HEY, is everything OKAY?!?!” a neighbor yelled.
By the time Rudy looked back the woman was gone.
Amelia called back to the neighbor “YES, everything is FINE RONALD.”
“If you had only asked sooner,” Amelia said to herself.
“Are you both okay?” Amelia asked.
“I-I think so… Are you okay Evelyn?” I asked.
Evelyn buried her head into me. Poor Evelyn I thought, the last few days must have been so rough for her.
“We’ll be fine... I hope...” I said, having trouble believing it myself..
“Who, was that?” I asked.
“She was a director from an orphanage,” Amelia said in a tired tone.
“O-orph-orphanage?” Evelyn piped up.
Amelia replied, “I don’t know how she found out about you guys...”
I looked down at Evelyn and hugged her tighter. Hard times were coming and I didn't know how to stop them…
Later that day Ameila found us back in the backyard. She told us we would be going to Mother’s funeral the next day and to head up to our guest room to get our clothes ready since we would be leaving early on Tuesday. So we did exactly that. We had left most of our clothes at home but Ameila nicely went and got us some. I told Evelyn that she should take a shower and that I'll take one after her, she agreed. I lied down on the bed that Evelyn and I were sharing, staring up at the ceiling while thinking about all the things we’ve been through. I don't know how long I was lying there but when Evelyn came back it seemed like she was gone for merely two seconds.
“Your turn,” Evelyn said to me.
She smiled back at me. (The Evelyn I know and love is slowly coming back to me.) The shower was hot and it was nice to wash all of last night's troubles away.–Or, try to anyway.–When I got out, it was almost dinner time, I dried my hair and went down for dinner.
Ameila was already putting some food out on the dinner table. “Hey guys, I didn't know what you guys wanted so I got some takeout food.”
“Oh, thanks,” I said.
Evelyn nodded in agreement and sat down in a chair next to Ameila and I sat next to Evelyn. The food was delicious and unlike the day before, I was starving. The rest of the night was filled with delicious food and smiles. Ameila was always nice and made things a little less hard.
I woke from a deep sleep, I can't remember exactly what I was dreaming about but I have a feeling it was about Mother. I looked over to my side at the clock. (It was 8:42 in the morning.) Evelyn was still asleep so I got up carefully and put something on other than pajamas. I opened the door to our room and snuck out silently. Once I was out I looked at Ameila’s bedroom door.–It was closed so I assumed she was still asleep as well and went downstairs.–I got myself some orange juice and sat at the table. Sometime later Ameila came downstairs and I told her that Evelyn was still sleeping. I asked her what time we would be leaving.
“The service starts at 11:00, so we will be leaving around 10:35.”
“Okay,” I said with a sigh.
“Hey, everything is going to be okay, okay?”
At that moment I just broke down and started crying. Ameila pulled me into her and held me. It was the first time I could really start grieving. All before now I had to be strong for Evelyn, but for now, she was asleep and didn’t need protecting. It felt good to finally get some of it out. Ameila held me the whole time and didn’t let go until I got it all out. Only then did she let go slightly to look at me.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
She pulled me to her, only to let go again a few seconds later. But it was sweet and I liked having someone who loved us again. Evelyn woke up and came downstairs a little while later and we got ready to go to the service. Evelyn and I went upstairs to change into nicer clothes. For me, I wore a black tuxedo with silver linings and for Evelyn–to match–a black dress with silver markings on the bottom of it. (To be clear, I'm not a fan of wearing tuxedos but for today I feel like I need to.) At 10:32, we got into Ameila's car and drove. For a while I just stared out of the window and watched the trees go by. As we started to slow down I came aware of my surroundings again. Evelyn was watching me, I gave her a weak smile. We pulled into a parking lot and I slowly got out of the car. We stood facing the building in front of us,–The Memorial Church.–It is white and grand, tall and sleek. The church was surrounded by forest and brush with its front facing a small cleared out space with the path leading back to the road. Inside is where Mother’s memorial will be held.
Ameila stopped and looked at us, “are you guys ready?”
We looked at her and nodded. She led us through the big double doors and into the church. There were multiple rows of dark oak wood benches and I recognized some of the people here, they were some of Mother’s friends. We walked in and sat down, no one seemed to take notice of us. Evelyn was sitting next to my left and Ameila to her left. A woman sitting to my right looked at me and smiled but didn't say anything. I assumed that she knew who we were. As a few more people walked through the door, the memorial started. A few people went up and said some words but I can't remember any of them. And to be honest, I can't really remember most of what happened. The farthest I can remember back is when we left for the burial. I was sitting now with Evelyn and Amelia no longer at the Memorial Church but at the burial. People now knew that we were Liesel's children. More words were said that I cannot remember as well. But during the time they were spoken it was getting harder and harder to stay in one place, harder and harder to keep listening, until finally, it was too much to bear, so I turned and ran into the forest.
I could hear Evelyn calling after me as I ran from my own mother's burial. I ran until I could not run any more. I found a small Lake and sat on a fallen log and cried, I heard someone approaching and quickly tried to wipe the tears from my face and to muffle the crying–it was Evelyn. She didn't say a word but simply came over, sat down and hugged me. I cried into her shoulder and she cried into mine. It was some time before Amelia found us. She hugged me and Evelyn and led us back to the burial. Everyone was waiting for us when we returned. They continued like nothing had happened and I am grateful for that. The casket was lowered into the ground and covered up with dirt. After the burial people came up to us and wished us the best. A few of the people I recognized, a few of them I did not. As the last few people were leaving, I saw something just under the surface of dirt covering Mother’s grave. I went over to it and uncovered what was beneath the dirt. It was a flower, Iris Xiphium was its name. I turned around and Evelyn was waving for me to come over.
“C’mon!” She called. “Amelia is waiting for us in her car!”
I ran over and Evelyn asked what was in my hand. “It’s Iris Xiphium” I told her, “hey, isn't that-” “Yeah,” I responded.”Mother’s favorite flower.”
Later that day there was another knock on the door, Amelia went to answer it being cautious in case it was the woman from earlier, instead it was a policeman.
“Oh thank GOD, you got my call. So she just came barging into my-” Amelia was saying.
“Actually I’m here for the kids,” the policeman said kindly.
The policeman continued, “I legally have to bring them to an orphanage since they have no one who will claim them.”
“I’ll claim them!” Amelia said fiercely but kindly.
“I'm sorry but you’re not legally their godmother so you can't do that,” the policeman explained.
All the colors seemed to drain out of Amelia's face.
“Go upstairs and get your stuff guys...”
“Whyyy?” Evelyn whined.
“You can't stay here anymore, I'm sorry,” Amelia said sadly.
“Come on,” I said.
I went upstairs–with Evelyn behind me–and we grabbed our stuff. (All of which were still in our bags.) When we came back downstairs the policeman was waiting, patiently, for us.
“Come here kids,” the policeman called.
Amelia was just watching sadly–knowing she couldn't do anything.
We followed the policeman out of the house, we said goodbye to Amelia and got into the car. This is where the next part of my story begins. We drove for what seemed like hours until we finally slowed down and the policeman opened our door. The building outside was the most depressing building I had ever seen. Half of the windows that I could see on the outside were cracked while the other half looked like all the filth in the world confined into one small space.
“I SAID, I'll get you both in the end, did she listen to ME? NO, they NEVER DO.”
It was the same woman who was at Amelia's house–the director of the orphanage or as we later find out, more commonly known amongst the kids of the orphanage “Teufels Frau meaning Devil Woman”–aaand I had the feeling she wanted to make our lives for us as terrible as possible.
“So, you like what I’ve done with the place?” Teufels Frau asked.
“Yes madam,” replied the policeman.
She completely ignored him. She turned her attention to us.
“Oooh, and here they are. The orphans of the hour,” she said in a sarcastic tone.
We stood there looking at the sad orphanage not wanting to move, not wanting to leave the green, soft warm grass.
“WELL… don’t just STAND there, come inside!”
As much as I just wanted to run away and never stop I knew it would do no good. So we followed her inside, a woman came up to Teufels Frau and gave her what seemed to be some black coffee. Teufels Frau took the coffee barely acknowledging her and started slurping at it. The other woman was wearing a bright yellow shirt and a white skirt.
“Olivia,” SLURRRRRP, “show them around,” Teufels Frau said in between slurps.
“Of course mam,” the cleaning maid– or Olivia said.
She waved us to follow her and if you could believe it, it was even worse the further we got inside. Every surface was covered with at least 3 layers of dust, the walls were stained, the floorboards creaked and the beds were lumpy as hell. There were 24 other kids that I counted from our tour. At last, she ended the tour on the second floor, bunk 25. The beds looked like–at very best–an animal had died there.
“Sorry about the beds,” Olivia said to us. “They haven't been used in a few years.”
“Uh, that's okay … I think.” I replied.
“Sure there is a lump here and there, and you may find an ant or mouse from time to time, but it's not as bad as you think.” She told us.
Evelyn and I sat down on the bed.
“Yea,” Evelyn sounded like herself again for what seemed the first time in forever.
“They're not THAT bad.”
Olivia started to walk away, “I’ll let you both get settled. There is lunch downstairs when you are ready to head down.”
“Thanks” Evelyn and I said at the same time.
We could hear Olivia laughing to herself as she walked down the staircase. We unpacked the clothes we had–which we had very little of–and put them in a side drawer that was in the corner and headed downstairs. There was a little landing where the middle of the stairs were. We stopped and looked over the landing below. There was a medium sized room at the bottom of the steps with a hallway branching off leading to a light filled room–the dining room. We started towards the dining room, sounds of chatter filling the air.
The room was packed…
I hope you've liked the first part of my story. I guess this is the moment where I give final words of wisdom, I'm not much of a fan of those, but here I go.
No matter who you are, no matter where you're from, know this.
There is always someone out there who loves and cares for you.
When you're down or when things seem that they can't be any worse,
think about this person out there, loving and caring for you
the way Amelia was for Evelyn and me.
Goodbye and farewell.
~~~Rudy Hans Meminger