The Book Thief – Part Eight – The Promise-keeper’s Wife

The Promise-keeper’s Wife

The Basement, Nine AM

Six hours till goodbye: ‘I played an accordion, Liesel. Someone else’s.’ He closes his eyes: ‘It brought the house down.’

Hans hadn’t drunk alcohol, for 10 years, that is quite an achievement! Good on him, you don’t need alcohol to have fun, or have a good time, or to live. But of course the night before he had to leave, he broke. I wonder what started his non-drinking, was it just because he didn’t like it, or was there an actual reason? Well that is just a tad awkward, he came to the wrong door! Oh dear, that would be so embarrassing, but I guess that he is so drunk he wouldn’t care. Frau Holtzapfel, just accept his thanks!

Then Hans went to Liesel’s room, and she thought that it was Max. In the morning, Rosa has a nice wakeup present for him, a nice, cold bucket of water! Seriously is Hans going to actually go to war? I don’t remember him leaving, maybe there is a way out.

The Kitchen: One PM

Two hours till goodbye: ‘Don’t go, Papa. Please.’ Her spoon-holding hand is shaking. ‘First we lost Max. I can’t lose you now, too.’ In response, the hungover man digs his elbow into the table and covers his right eye. ‘You’re half a woman now, Liesel.’ He wants to break down but wards it off. He rides through it. ‘Look after Mama, will you?’ The girl can make only half a nod, to agree. ‘Yes, Papa.’

I can’t believe he is actually going. Will he survive? I thought Death made some mention of it way back in the beginning, but I really don’t remember. How long will he be gone for? Will he come back the same man? The goodbye would just be heartbreak! How can you say goodbye when you know that there is a great chance that he will never come back! It would be nearly impossible to let go. How in the world could you go through that? It would hurt too much…

The Train Station, Three Pm

No hours, no minutes till goodbye: he holds her. To say something, to say anything, he speaks over her shoulder. ‘Could you look after my accordion, Liesel? I decided not to take it.’ Now he finds something he truly means. ‘And if there are more raids, keep reading in the shelter.’ The girl feels the continued sign of her slightly growing chest. it hurts as it touches the bottom of his ribs. ‘Yes, Papa.’ A millimetre from her eyes, she stares at the fabric of his suit. She speaks into him. ‘Will you play us something when you come home?’

I don’t think Hans really has much hope in him, of surviving another war. But he can’t die! He has to come back and play some more accordion! And suddenly he was gone. Those first few days after they left would be agony, you just wouldn’t know how to live, you’d keep expecting them to walk through the door. I guess it is exactly like the person actually dying, but at least now there is some chance of them returning.

Rudy! You are a tad delusional if you think you can find your father by just walking there. Or even finding the Führer himself. I can feel your pain Rudy, I really can, but killing him won’t really solve anything. Unfortunately. Liesel, be careful, don’t reveal anything you shouldn’t! But hopefully this walk has fixed things for the two of them, it has been a good catharsis and allowed them to move on, if only a little bit. It is always good to tell the truth, isn’t it. WHO IN THE WORLD IS IN THEIR HOUSE? OR AT LEAST WHAT IS THAT NOISE?

It’s even worse than I imagined. An intruder would be better. Rosa is sitting with Hans’ accordion. I hadn’t really thought about how bad it would be for Rosa, it was more about Liesel. In all honest, both have them have lost a lot because of this war. I just wonder how much more do they stand to lose.

A Painted Image

Rosa with accordion. Moonlight on dark. 5’1″ x instrument x silence.

Even hours later, Rosa was still there with the accordion, even if she was asleep. ‘The suffocation of sleep.’ Well that is just an amazing way to put it, I haven’t for ages so I think I’d better, Zusak you are a genius!


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