Rated: 13+ · Essay · Biographical · #950319
another for placesettings
|On My Side of the Wall|
It was one of those crystal clear, bracing summer days when the whole world feels new. It had rained the night before and it seemed that the whole city of West Berlin had been washed clean. I had been wandering around, people watching, with no particular destination in mind and nowhere I had to be.
Then, there at the end of the street I was on was a tall, crumbling wall. It seemed to cut across the street rather than be at the end of it for buildings had this wall built into it and in one place there was a window that seemed to look out on both sides of the wall that bisected it.
Without intending to, I had stumbled across "The Berlin Wall." Actually, I had intended NOT to see this one particular place. For some reason it had seemed to me to be a place that wouldn’t be quite what I had envisioned and I didn’t want that impression disturbed or negated. But now I was here at the end of a deserted street looking up at a brick and stone barrier topped with bits of barbed wire and (when I backed up a bit) jagged pieces of glass and metal. I was right: It was nothing like I’d envisioned.
I stood there running my hands over this divider of mankind and a small piece of stone moved under my hand. I remember looking to see if anyone was watching me before putting the piece of the Wall in my pocket.
Suddenly I heard shots ring out. I ducked off to the side of the road wondering if taking a piece was a shooting offense. It might well have been for all I knew and I quickly dropped the piece of stone in the road.
I heard sounds above me and I saw a white face looking over the top of the wall. Huge, wild eyes seemed to fill the face and then I saw a small cloth bag come over and land at my feet. Shots rang out again and the sound of a body hitting the ground on the other side echoed on my side of the wall.
I picked up the bag and looked inside. There was a jacket and a picture of a woman and a child of perhaps, five or six. The child had the same wild, wide eyes as had the face on the wall above me.
Suddenly the street was filled with soldiers asking me what I had seen. I handed them the bag and told them. I was asked to come to a check-point and had to tell the soldiers again and again. Seems that they thought I might have been meeting the man who had been trying to escape. Finally, they gave me my passport back and I was allowed to go.
I went back to the street where west became east and found the piece of stone that I had dropped earlier
Another day. Another continent. Another wall. This one of black marble engraved somewhere with the name I had come here to find. All along the base of this wall are scattered mementos left behind. A teddy bear and a photograph lie near an engraved cross and a green beret.
Searching, searching I find his name near the top of the third panel. Looking up at the name I see clouds and trees, and then, a child's face: wide, startled eyes looking down at mine.
Running gentle fingers over my friend's name I see in the reflection other faces searching for other names. Seeing their reflections there is like seeing refractions of other faces...trapped forever on the other side of the Wall.