the word thief

At the moment I am reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is an incredible story, so wonderfully written. The masterful way Zusak plays with words – switching verbs for nouns and slipping into German a little on each page – amazes me. So I thought I would attempt a little of his style, in the spirit of shared inspiration. It worked a little, but is quite tainted by my own. I hope you enjoy it, and if you haven’t read it already, go out and get The Book Thief!

Her mouth twisted towards the ground like a wrapper, cold and discarded in the dusk. He smiled in return, and then there were words exchanged. Snatched between them like a gust of wind.

‘What will you do with him.’ The question was flat and lifeless as it fell from her mouth, lacking both curiosity and anticipation. There was only the steady ebb of statement, the keen pitch of hurt at the end. Cold tears burnt her pink cheeks.

The sky above them was black and boiling, curdling at the yellow edges. Like soup.

His words were sharp as he spoke them into the ice, as though frozen by their exposed moments in the naked air. ‘His body will be buried.’ He kicked at the hard ground then, as though to illustrate the impossibility of such a task, the immense favour he was bestowing.

The alluded favour did little to shift the thick tension between them, and his arms fell to his sides. Limp and heavy. Dead in their filthy sleeves. Red shot through the sky to the east, almost hidden by the sumptuous curve of horizon. Circled around the two the dark trees were gathering darkness, pulling it around themselves like woolly water, as though to protect their ancient leaves from the fiery blasts, the violent rips that shook through their roots.

The girl began to cry, sinking towards the ground, pulled down by her loss. Her knees scraped against the dirty ground, blood stinging to the surface in a graze. It shone bright red against the spilt snow, pricks below her white skin.

The man’s eyes were like dough as they flickered between her face and the blood. He hoisted the boy’s body over his large shoulder like a rough sack of potatoes, surprised by how light it was.

A body is empty without the soul.

The sky shot burnt red again as he walked away from the girl, his heavy black boots crushing the bloodied snow underfoot. The rain began then, grey and straight, like discarded potato peelings.


8 thoughts on “the word thief”

  1. Love it! And loved the Book Thief also! (Ironically thieved it off my aunt when I went back to uni one year as I couldnt put it down haha) Another great book with amazing plays on words is the God of Small Things, def worth a read if you havent already 🙂

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