Author : Chris Deal
It’s the only story the news is talking about today: twenty years since the fall, since the wall came down. My boy asked me if I remembered it, where was I when I heard it had come down. Told him I was right where he was, asking my father what it meant, the wall coming down, the people separating. I told my boy, I told him my dad said it meant we could be together again, undivided by petty differences.
My boy, he said my dad sounded like a smart man.
He was, I told him.
What I didn’t tell him was that I was lying. I wasn’t sitting with my father when the wall came down. I was there. I held a sledgehammer in my young hands and I swung that thing over and over, until my muscles ached of acid and my shirt was soaked with sweat, clinging to me in the cold night.
What I didn’t tell him was that I was on the other side of that wall.
That wall wasn’t to keep people inside, but to keep them out.
What I didn’t tell my boy was my father, he remembered the first wall, way across the ocean, the remnant of another war, long before the last one. One country divided from itself, not one country cut off from the rest of the world. Families separated, not entire cultures. He knew his mother wasn’t born in here, but he never asked where I met her. He never asked where we lived before him. There was the way it was now, the way it was before, but he never cared about anything from then. Him, he had an entire life ahead of him, an entire world to see. He would never have to see his homeland tear itself apart, people of a different color removed from their homes, sent to a land they only knew as stories from their parents, grandparents. The war in our borders was a history lesson for him, not real life. He would never have to kill to preserve what was right.
My boy grew bored of the news, and he started surfing the neural-net.
One day, he may ask more about my father. He may ask about the before. He might ask about the wall that ran the full course of the borders, the guards who patrolled in jeeps with gauss rifles, the camps we sat in before being dumped on the other side, the constant broadcasts from the leader, the man who put an end to heterogeneity and proclaimed through homogeneity we would better ourselves, the man who declared war on the other, who defined that there was an other, the man who became a martyr before the revolution was complete, before I held that hammer and brought down that wall.
When my boy asks, I’ll tell him. For now, though, he can keep on as he is.
I’ll remember for him.