Over the Wall
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."
For a very long time there had been a wall. It was built out of hate and fear and the foolish thought that it would provide those on the inside with some sort of safety and defense against those on the outside. So those on the outside could do little more than stand by and watch as it was erected. The fearless leader of those on the inside sometimes coming to stand and watch in a calculated silence. It is what is best for the country. It will keep us safe from the war and the crime these people bring.
Those on the outside accepted the presence of the wall with a sort of resigned and at times indignant air. There was nothing they could do in the face of those who were building it, so all that was left to do was stand and watch.
People went missing from view and from mind after the wall was built. Men and women that had gone to the inside of it were cut off from those left on the outside. Those that scaled it without proper passage were thrown back over. Those that had walked across the land in the days before it was built were thrown back over. Those that had not even come from the outside were thrown back over into a land they did not recognize as theirs.
And life went on as life had a tendency to do, the wall standing tall and grey in the background as a reminder to those on the inside that they were safe and they were unified, and to those on the outside that those on the inside were the enemy.
The fond years of coexisting in a helpful harmony faded from the minds of both parties. The stories of how years ago they had celebrated and sang and danced together, and the values and cultures of one became the values and cultures of all faded from the repertoire of oral tradition. Those on the inside now only talked of one man who had soured the virtue of all on the outside. Those on the outside only talked of the wall and who built it. Friends, family and neighbors faded from view and memory, and left only a bitter hatred behind.
Those on the inside turned red, those on the outside turned black.
Protection! They cried, in a burst of fire and red. Safety! Values!
Acceptance! They cried, in a cloaking darkness. Ignorance! Prejudice!
The generations sat in a petulant silence and there were miles of empty barren land on either side of the wall. Children looked at it in awe and wonder up until the day their parents told them of the barbarians on the other side, how the wall kept us away from the likes of them.
Three boys, chased from every place in town because of the irritating sound their ball made when it was kicked again and again, approached the wall.
The smallest one shivered and stood back, looking left and right and seeing nothing but the grey giant. “It’s a bad idea, lets just go back to my house.”
The oldest turned to the third and rolled his eyes. “Your mom already kicked us out, and this wall is perfect! There’s no one around to annoy.”
“Accept the people on the other side.” The smallest one took a few steps closer, the ghost stories of those living on the other side appearing vividly in his mind’s eye. “What if we get caught?”
The other two boys were already kicking the ball, higher and higher up the wall until they lost it and the third boy went after it, calling to the youngest one as he ran, “If we stay on our side we’ll be just fine!”
Still hesitant, the smallest one joined in their game. Kicking the ball halfheartedly, watching with his heart in is throat as the ball climbed higher and higher up the wall. The two other boys had their hearts in their throats too, their entire bodies pumping with the wild feeling of brushing against trouble.
The ball was kicked with more and more energy, and it bounced higher and higher and to the left and to the right and the laughter of the other two boys echoed around in the empty space. The barren landscape seemed to come alive with color and energy. Wells and springs flowed freely across the dry earth, green grass flourished and brightly colored flowers swayed under the cool sun. The sky was blue and the clouds were white and the world was harmonious once again. The smallest boy ran, his feet pounding on the soft and inviting earth, his heart now full of excitement, fear of the wall replaced by wonder at the act of living.
The ball climbed higher and higher and higher and the smallest boy drew his leg back and with all his might sent it sailing over the wall.
The bright world fell away and the barren truth thudded around them. They stood silent, eyes wide, hearts pounding now with real fear. The oldest boy nudged the youngest. “Go get it.”
The third one turned to the oldest with a look of horror. “Go get it?! Don’t be stupid! He can’t go over there! They’ll, they’ll-“
“Never catch him. We all know no guards patrol these things, and if they do they’re stationed at those gates that never open. Look around! There’s no one around here for miles!”
“It’s not worth the risk. It’s a stupid ball, we can get another one.” The third one made to grab the youngest but the oldest stood in their way.
“You aren’t scared, are you?”
The boyish fear of seeming weak and small wormed its way into the minds of all three that stood around. The smallest one stepped up, squared his shoulders and said, “No. I’m not scared.”
“See! That’s because there’s nothing to worry about.”
The third one was still uncertain, despite the mask he wore that said otherwise. “How’re we gonna get over the wall huh? Its 10 feet tall, that’s way bigger than any of us.”
The oldest one stood analyzing the wall, hand on his jaw in careful concentration. “You get on my shoulders and we’ll hoist him up.”
“M-Me?” The youngest one hadn’t realized that by being brave he had also volunteered himself.
“Yes you. You’re 10, and the smallest. We can lift you easy. Right?”
The third one looked sadly at the youngest, now more scared than brave, and nodded somberly. They moved to stand up against the wall, the third carefully scaling the oldest until he stood on his shoulders and the youngest climbing up the teetering mass. At first, they all swayed and fell over, toppling into cuts and bruises on the rocky ground. But at last the youngest stood on their shoulders, just tall enough so that his little hands hooked over the top, and with an extra push he was over the wall, sliding down its rocky, vertical slope and landing in a crushing pile at the bottom.
The world didn’t look so different from the one he had just left behind. Just as barren and bleak. The only speck of true color was the ball that had bounced and rolled some ways away from where he stood.
The third’s voice sailed over the wall. “You good?”
The youngest pushed himself up and replied. “Yeah, I’m good.”
As he set off to get the ball it was sinking into the boys on the other side that there was no good way to retrieve him. They paled and their guts turned to lead. The third one started to shake, ready to kill the oldest for the stupid ball, knowing that the second the youngest got back with it, if he ever got back with it, the third would tear it to shreds right then and there.
The oldest thought he remembered seeing a heap of junk, a couple heaps of junk, somewhere behind them. “I’ll run and get it, you stay here and tell him we have a rope.”
“But we don’t have a rope.”
“But we will have a rope. We’ll have something. Don’t freak him out. Wait here.”
The oldest took off running and the third stayed and jumped from foot to foot, trying to calm his nerves so that when the youngest asked to be pulled over his voice wouldn’t shake when he responded to him.
The youngest had ran to get the ball but was distracted by a sound far off. He squinted and saw that in the distance, moving quickly, was a dark form. It was a car, and he didn’t know what to do.
He stood paralyzed, the ball gripped tightly in his hands, and as the car drew nearer one of the guards stood up, took one look at the kid and knew, and shot him.
The oldest was on his way back with a long coil of rope, thanking any god above for his lucky find. The third one was shaken by a sound he was sure was a gunshot but was refusing to believe. Refused to believe any of the sounds he heard coming from across the wall. The oldest one ran up beaming, but by the shattered look on the boy’s face and his slumped position on the ground, he threw the rope over the wall in a hasty and terrified silence, and the third shakily helped him up.
The oldest dropped the rest of the rope down to a blood stain and their ball, the only spots of color on the otherwise barren landscape.
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