You find out your neighbour’s brick house is actually made of painted books. Which one do you want to read and what happens when you take it?
Did I want to read Les Mis or Winnie the Pooh? Litte Dorrit or The Wizard of Oz? The Kite Runner, A Fine Balance, Shantaram? Harry Potter, Birdsong, Half of the Yellow Sun? An obvious choice stood out: The Book Thief.
The Problem. There’s always a problem. The Book Thief was right in the centre of the house, just above the door. Stealing necessitates subtlety. But how?
I knew there was a ladder in my garage, silence would have to be my cover, and stealth. Channeling Mulan I lightly ran back towards my house and, 2 minutes later, returned with the ladder.
I leaned it against the House of Books and carefully, ever so quietly, I started to climb.
It was too short!
Luckily I’m a good problem solver – at least, it says so on my CV. Balancing on the second to last step, I pushed my weight up, onto tip toes. I’m a physical embodiment of “reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground”. Or the rung of a ladder, as it may be.
Like a game of Jenga, I used my fingertips to prize the book gently backwards, but as I did so something caught my eye. A duck-egg blue book, with a blank space on the spine where the title should be. The authors name: my name! Is this the as yet unwritten book I’d always longed to write?
Sucking in a breath unconsciously but loudly, my hand drifted away from The Book Thief. Even further up (stretch!) and to the left.
“Oi! What do you think are you doing?”
I look down. Mr Johnson is glaring up at me.
“Oh, Mr Johnson! Don’t worry, I’m just looking!” I hoped he wouldn’t sense the note of panic in my voice.
But his shout had made me jump.
My stretching hand came back down quickly to stabilise myself. As it did so knocking The Book Thief, left jutting from the side of the house before I’d been distracted. My weight pushed the book down on a pivot, lifting those above it up. Dislodging them. They came back down with an almighty thud. Unbalanced, the pile threatened to fall on top of me.
Threat, of a sudden, became reality. I was buried in an enormous mountain of books.
I heard his footsteps, bare bone against the tarmac, long before I saw him. Death’s gaunt and shadowy face looked down at me.
“Liesl, I thought we’d agreed? No more stealing books…”