Walls to keep out or lock in?
The sphere rose toward the blue sky. For the last hour Sy threw the ball as hard as he could and caught it in his four fingers. He'd learned to catch it with a light touch as at first the ball exploded when the tips of his fingers touched the object before it landed in his large palm.
He tilted his head, listening with his ultra keen ear then shook his head. ears flapped a bit at the force of the shake. He froze. Had he heard something? A noise? A scratching? With an appearance of disinterest he turned his squat body on thin legs to peruse the area around him and saw nothing unusual. With lightening speed he disappeared into the undergrowth and found his goal.
The crack began under the ground and widened to allow his whole arm to fit through. On that day he managed to break the rest of the porous material so his arm could touch the ground.
Using the astute sensation he'd developed in his fingers, he found the ground on the other side of the wall to dry, dusty and no green or living thing he could touch.
He dug some more at the crack to widen it. Then because of school demands he couldn't visit the crack. When he did come back the crack had widened more than he had made it.
He sat stunned. How did this happen? He could put his whole arm through the crack. Nothing had changed, the ground was as dry as it had been the days before. He thought about the trees and shrubs that surrounded the perimeter of the wall. He'd never seen the beginning of it nor the end of it. He'd never seen anyone climb over it as its top most edge surpassed the tallest buildings near it. Sometimes he wondered what was over it and why it was there? now if he got on his knees he could see the dust and pebbles on the other side. His hand felt the heat of the sun. He hadn't let his hand stay more than a few minutes of searching as the heat from the sun turned his pale wrinkled skin a darker purple color.
Sy had dug out some of the dirt to widen the hole, he'd had the scare of his life. He'd heard a low whistle sound coming from the other side. He closed one eye and laid his head on the ground to see through the crack. What he saw had been another eyeball. He jerked back and pressed his body against the cool stone wall.
What was it? The hole didn't yield anything. The whistling continued and a stick poked through the hole. It wiggled back and forth as if searching for something. With extreme caution he pulled a clod of grass and dirt and tossed it nest to the stick. The stick disappeared. A few moments later it appeared and poked at the grass clod and then fingers, much like his only green in color grabbed the clod and it disappeared through the hole.
Sy moved closer and made a whistling sound like the one he heard. A soft answer came back and a clear stone appeared though the hole. Sy grabbed it. He held it to the sky and the rock shimmered in the the light. Colored reflections lit the leaves on the vines that covered the wall.
The stick came through the hole and bounced around searching.
Sy looked around and saw a flower blooming and picked it. Laying it down next to the stick, he waited for the green fingers to appear. When they did he touched them. They retracted immediately. Taking a deep breath and pushing all fear aside he put his own fingers through the hole, just a few inches and waited.
He could see his hand but not the end of his fingers. Then he felt the sensation of touch and stroking his hand. when he pulled his hand back a little green fingers followed. stopping he let his fingers touch and examine the fingers that were similar but different.
These were longer and had a bulbous tip. It didn't light up. The skin was dense where his tips were almost translucent. He pushed the green fingers back a bit so who ever was on the other side could see his. He thought hard and the tip of his first finger began to glow. Immediately his finger was caught and held with a gentle hand touching and stroking. Then he heard a sharp whistle and his hand was dropped and pushed back through the hole the light from the other side disappeared. He bent down to see what covered the hole and found it blocked with a rock. He couldn't push it. No one came back and he went home.
Every time he had a chance he escaped to the wall and the friendship between the two who never saw each other continued. Sy brought food. Fruit and nuts and berries. Whoever it was loved them. The green fingers turned a funny purple color when the berries were eaten. Then days went by and there was no sign of his friend.
A community meeting had been announced and the mayor stood in front of the large gathering. He called the meeting to order. "I'm afraid I have some bad news. There has been a breach in the wall. One of the enemy has been to our side. We dodn't know what the reason for the intrusion was or how it was accomplished. The matter has been taken care of. Look at the screen." A picture filled the screen. An item was displayed on the a white towel.
Sy gasped. His mother put her arms around him."Close your eyes. You don't need to see that horrific thing. It belongs to a creature that is ugly and dangerous."
Sy pushed her arms away and looked again. The finger was green with a bulbous tip. The green color had been stained a purple. A purple the color of ripe berries. Cold chills ran though his body. Was his friend alive? He began to shake. "I don't feel so well. I think I'll go home."
His mother nodded and Sy slipped through the crowd and headed home.
The following week Sy braved the militia that now patrolled the wall and found the rock on the other side was gone. The whistling was weak, but he heard it. He answered and the stick wiggled in the hole. Sy made a whistle that started high and dropped, like a sad song. he stuck his fingers through the hole and they were stroked. He turned his palm up and felt for the hand. Touching the digits he found cloth wrapped around the hand and one of the fingers gone. Tears of anger welled inside him. He squeezed the hand gently, patting the hand as he pulled his hand back. he gave a little bird whistle and crawled through the brush only to run smack into the legs of one of the militia.
"What have we here?" The guard picked Sy up by his shirt. "What were you doing back there?"
"I lost my ball in there the other day. I-I was just getting it." Sy stuttered, unable to touch the ground and swinging in the tall guard's hand.
"Where's the ball?"
"Put me down and I'll show you." Sy wiggled trying to get out of the guard's hold.
The guard let go and dropped him on the ground. Sy jumped up putting some distance between the two. He dug his pocket and pulled out a small hard ball.
The guard's four eyes focused on Sy but he kept his expression frozen.
"Okay, you can go, but stay away from here. We're patrolling the wall in case any more of those heathens sneak over here."
"Who are they? Where do they come from?" Sy asked.
"Go ask your parents." The guard whirled and began his march back down the path.
At home he found his father working in his office. "Dad why do we have a wall?"
"To keep out the bad people."
"What bad people?"
His dad sighed. "Don't you learn this stuff in school?"
"No. We don't talk about the wall. Its just there. Now that I know there are others on the other side I want to know about them."
His father frowned. "Look Sy, it was a long time ago. There was a war and we won. They built a wall to protect us and keep us safe from them. They live their lives we live ours." He turned back to his work.
"That finger looked a little like mine, but it wasn't purple all the way up. What kind of people are they?"
His father sighed again only it was more like a groan. He put his tools down and turned his chair toward Sy. I'm not sure what they look like now. I've only seen pictures of what they looked like in the war. They look like us but have greenish skin, like you saw in the picture. I don't know why it was purple on the end, maybe that person was a mutant, half them half us. I feel sorry for them if they are. I can't believe they have a good life."
"What was the war about?"
"I don't even know. It was so long ago. If they don't tell you in school, it must not have been important. Are you done with the questions?"
"No, but it doesn't matter anymore." Sy climbed the steps to his room. Whoever was on the other side was now missing a finger because of the berries he shared. It was his fault. He needed to do something to make it right.
First he needed to find out why the wall was built. He'd ask his teacher at school the next day.
The next day he was called out of class and sent to the principals office. He sat in a large chair where his short legs didn't reach the ground. The chair wasn't comfortable, he wiggled. His fingertips glowed off and on no matter how much he tried to control his feelings.
"I hear you want to know about the war." The older man asked.
"I was curious after seeing that picture." Sy eyed the man to judge his reaction.
Fingers formed a tent and beady eyes looked Sy over like he was a specimen. "I think its only fair you understand the severity of what happened. A young Mingo must have found a way to our side and eaten berries. When she went to school the teacher noticed the stained fingers and turned her into the authorities." The man shrugged and put his palms on the desk. "She wouldn't tell where she got the berries or how she got through the wall. Her punishment was the loss of her finger. She won't be doing that again." He gave a dry laugh. "There is a book somewhere in the library on the war. I'm sure its old and dusty. Asj Ms Pigeon to find it for you. It doesn't hurt to know why we want to keep that riff raff out of our side of the wall." He motioned for Sy to leave.
After school he used a different route to get to the wall. He whistled and heard the answering whistle. After a little time passed and Sy was sure the guards were passed him he spoke. "Can you understand me?"
"Yes." The voice was soft. It was a girl.
"I'm going to bring tools and open the hole to get through." Sy told her.
That was six months ago. Sy couldn't bring her ot his side because of the color of her skin. He couldn't stay on her side for the same reason. They built a bond that the wall couldn't keep apart.