Author: Henry Peter Gribbin

There is a young boy who lives all by himself in a meadow. For miles and miles, there is nothing but soft flowing grass which sways in a gentle breeze. In a small depression stands a tree, an apple tree. This tree plays an important part in the boy’s life. It provides him nourishment and shelter when a light misty rain falls. Other than the boy, the apple tree, and the flowing grass there is no other form of life. There are no birds, animals, insects and more importantly, no other form of human life.

There is a brick wall that runs as far as the eye can see in both directions. It reaches into the clouds. The young boy walks every day along the wall. One day he walks to the right-the next day to the left. He is searching for life, for he is lonely. But at dusk, he always returns to the tree. It is his only sanctuary.

The boy is being punished for the transgressions of his father. The boy is a prisoner.

There is a circular hole in the wall six inches in diameter and five feet off the ground. He has only recently been able to peek through the hole. He is amazed at what he can see. There are all kinds of trees, animals, birds, and in the distance there are mountains. He has no language and has no words to describe what he sees, but every day for hours he is enthralled by what is on the other side of the wall.

One day he heard sounds that he had never heard before. He went to the hole and observed a group of children about his age playing. The sounds he heard were the squeals of laughter. He watched but made no sound. One of the children came close to the wall to retrieve a ball. It was a young girl. The boy made no sound, but when the girl stood up something caught her eye. She came closer and put her eye right up to the hole. The boy and girl stared at each other for several minutes. The girl called to her friends. They took turns looking at the boy on the other side of the wall. Each one laughed at him. They laughed at his unkempt hair and his nakedness. Then they returned to their play. The girl stayed behind. She tried to talk to the boy but had no luck. Somehow she got the message across that she would return the next day.

Well, she did. She returned day after day, and she managed to teach him language. Her name was Grace, and since the boy had no name she called him Ash because of his fair skin and blond hair. The boy liked the name she gave him. For the first time, he had a friend. For months the boy and girl communicated. One day Ash reached his arm through the hole and touched Grace’s hand. It was the first time he had ever felt another’s touch. It felt wonderful.

The following day Grace and her friends did not appear. They did not return the following day either. The boy always waited by the hole in the wall, but after several more days passed he realized that he was alone again. The next morning he resumed his walks along the wall.