My Fence

July 1, 2009
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I’m walking along the curb, counting my steps. The icy winter air presses against my cheeks. I make my way through my neighborhood, deep in thought. The corner on my eye catches like a hook, on an open fence. I make my strides slow and steady. Next thing I know, there’s a growl and fierce barking. My instincts urge me to run away, but I can’t find my feet. I’m frozen. I know who lives there. An old man and his companion, Purpose the dog. He’s the only thing the man has got, but there is definitely enough of him to go around. Purpose is huge and threatening. I have never really seen him, but the shadow he casts can swallow you in darkness and leave you searching for the light at the end. There really should be a BEWARE OF BEAST sign to warn passer- bys.

Stupidly and curiously, I make my way up to the wooden fence. Cautiously, I sneak in. My eyes skim the neatly landscaped yard but fail to locate the dog. I sigh in relief and disappointment. It would have been cool to see such an animal, but frightening beyond recovery if he would have seen me. Just as I was about to leave, a gust of wind slammed shut the gate and I cringed as I heard the lock snap shut. On my heels, I spin around. The fence seems higher now. I am about to leave, when again I here low growls. With a shaking hand, I try desperately to work the lock loose, but it won’t budge.

Whether my knees were shaking from the cold, or fear, I did not know. Something was approaching me from behind. I held my breath and squeezed my eyes closed as I felt the presence of hot breath on the back of my neck. I unwillingly turned around and opened my eyes to see, not Purpose, but the old man. A wave of relief washed over me until I realized that he had a furious expression, and slowly, panic began to seep in. He started shouting at me, “ You lie, you know you do! Tell the truth! Go! Don’t come back till’ you do!” Over and over he cried, “Liar, Liar” as he stared me down. I kept trying to run, but the ground was slipping from underneath me. When I got to the fence, it was covered with all of the lies I had ever told. Each one burned me inside and I couldn’t bear it! I wanted to tear it down. Rip it to shreds. To rid of it forever. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t escape. I was forced to face all of the lies I had told.


Panting, I wake up with beads of sweat rolling down my forehead. Now, I know what I have to do. I have to start telling the truth. I must also tell the truth about my past lies. This thought impacted me like a falling boulder. It was painful and a heavy weight I didn’t want to carry. But if I wanted to tear down that fence between me and peace, I had to face the facts. Starting with the lies I tell to myself.

Now that I was awake, I decided to start right away. I am always putting myself down. Telling myself that I’m not smart enough, or I’m not pretty enough. A lump was caught in my throat as I tried to compliment myself. I forced myself to remember the feelings I experienced in my dreams, and tried again. So, I told myself that I am smart and good enough to achieve anything. Even telling the truth, not matter how hard it seemed. It was a weird feeling I got when I was finished. It was a natural high; pure happiness and a good mood booster, which prompted me to take my effort further.

It then occurred to me that the name my subconscious had conjured up for the dog, fit him. He had a purpose, and it was to lure me in to face reality. That reality is that I lie too much. Truth and I are not good friends. But I’m willing to reach out and try to become one. Try to start over, because right now, I’m living a lie.


The next few months were spent desperately trying to make up for my lies. I learned early on, that it wasn’t as easy for others to forgive me, as it was for me to forgive myself. Gradually, the victims of my deceit became my enemies, and then my friends once again. I liked to imagine each lie that was written in red ink on the fence, was replaced by the truth in blue ink. When I am tempted to lie once again, it pushes me to eliminate the red and be comforted by the blue in my life.

But the day came.


Hesitantly, I walked into the backyard of the old man. It was a humid summer morning. This time, I saw Purpose. To my surprise, he was small and napping peacefully in the shade. I guess his size was based on how I lived my life. When I was deceitful, I was angry and looked down on the world. Now I am calm and I look up to others as role models.

Next, I saw the old man. He was smiling at me with genuine pride. He walked over to my side and took my hand. Together, we strode toward the fence. My fence. Many times since my first visit, I had been here. And each time, the fence had faded more and more. This time was different. Anxiously, I had been waiting for today. Now, we watched as the last piece shimmered in the sunlight. It was almost transparent, and every particle threw the light in an array of colors. I reached out and gently touched it with my finger tips. Then, like it had never been there at all, it was gone. I was over come with joy because I had rid of the fence I had put up in my life. Not bitterly and forcibly like I wanted to do in the beginning, but patiently and carefully. Still, I was saddened to not have a goal to work so hard for anymore. I heard the old man chuckle, and as if he had heard my thoughts, he said, “ There is plenty for you to strive for.”

Maybe, just maybe, the old man is my conscience. Maybe, just maybe, I should always listen to what he has to say.





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