The Other Side of The Wall

The rule in our town was that you never climbed over the stone wall that surrounded the old monastery. Some folks even walked faster on the stretch of road that passed by its circular gate. The men had bricked up the gate years ago, after the counter revolution had purged the order, burning many of the monks as witches and scattering the rest.
Some people said that at night, when it rained, the bricks grew redder until the opening in the gray limestone wall became a large mouth that would swallow up anyone who came near. Most folks thought this was just a story told to frighten children.

Of course some broke the rule and went over the wall, finding gaps or low spots. Some went to smoke before the permitted age, some to kiss before their appointed day, and some just to see what was on the other side. A wall, a fence, a barrier can have this effect on people.

I went over the first time on a dare. Temmus Coopson said I wouldn't because I was scared and a girl. So I scrambled right over. To this day I’m not sure how I did it. What was on the other side? Trees, mostly, and tall grass and the wind blowing through them. I brought back a hedge apple from one of the trees and waved it in his face. Temmus grabbed it from me and threw it and stomped away. I went and found it and took it home. It smelled of dirt and flowers and fresh-cut wood and was wonderfully ripe-melon heavy. I set it on my dressing table next to my hairbrush and comb.

That night a flash of lightning woke me. I closed my eyes and waited to hear the thunder but it never came. I soon grew drowsy again but just as I was drifting off there came another flash of light. I went to the window and drew aside the shade. The sky was clear and the stars shone and the moon hung over the barn. It must have been a dream, I thought. Then there was another flash, but it came from inside my room, behind me, on the table.

Image: Quarry Wall Under Forest Moonlight by talented flickr user encouragement, used under a Creative Commons license.

1 comment:

Nick said...

quite lovely