The Heart of My City

April 12, 2011
I was walking along the wall.

I could smell the fumes of the spray paint emanating from the wall, covered in graffiti. I wasn’t allowed to read any of it, but I was always alone, stalking the colorful wall.

'The city is our heart, and it’s been broken.'

It was the clearest writing on the wall during my post. I saw it every day, and every day I wondered what it meant.

The sky was loaded with stars that night, so bright I could read the writing on the wall without turning on my flashlight. I stared up at the sky as I walked, completely oblivious to the crumbling city below me, only noticing the magnificence above.

I was approaching the Breach, the area where the wall had crumbled down to the ground. It was quickly covered with wire fence, of course, but often I would find people looking over to the other side, sometimes even for meetings. When this happen I was responsible for reporting them.

I still don’t know what they did to them, but I never saw the same person twice.

As the person who patrols the Breach, I was the most prominent of the patrolman, although that didn’t mean much.

Today I saw no one on this side, which was a relief. When there was only someone on the other side, I was to scare them off. They were the lucky ones.

The graffiti got thicker toward the Breach, and I forced my head away from the writing and into the sky. What if someone wrote in the sky? Everyone would be able to see it, the ultimate graffiti. My fantasies were cut short by the sound of the whimpering.

I thought it was a dog, but through the Breach I could see a dark figure curled up near the ground.

“Ma’am?” The polite word seemed to be the most frightening thing the woman could hear. Yes, it was a woman. She was pale and slender, perhaps past healthiness.

“Oh, I must go…” As she turned her crouched body, I spotted a glistening tear reflecting moonlight drop. Something possessed me to speak again.

“What’s wrong ma’am?” I asked her. It was dumb and misguided, perhaps even dangerous.

Her shivering motions halted with the second turn back toward me. Her face glowed from the path of her tears. Her whimpering had stopped.


“Oh, yes, I’m sorry. It’s just… My father came to see my brother here. They took him away yesterday.”

I remembered him. As I was passing by there was a man on my side speaking, and as I dragged him away the man on the other side shouted at him.

“I’ll see you in heaven, father!” he said. I didn’t sleep very well last night.

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“You’re not supposed to be talking to me, are you?”

I looked to my left ad right before staring at her wet face again.

“No one’s here.”

She smiled, not knowing what I had done to her brother. I suddenly felt like I wanted to rip my uniform off. Rip the wall off, rip the whole damn world apart.

“The patrolman usually comes soon,” I admitted to her, after a long pause of just staring. She began to smile at me.

“I’m not afraid anymore. My family’s gone. I think I’ll just wait here.” I didn’t answer, but I waited with her. I wanted to be on the other side with this simple lady who had nothing anymore.

“I can talk to my superiors; maybe they can help-”

“I don’t want to talk about such fantasies in my last conversation.” She was more realistic then I was.

“You’re different than the others,” I told her.

“I’d guess you are too, talking to… well, I guess a traitor.” This made her giggle and look at the ground in ridicule of the state. Yes, very different.

“I don’t want to let you get arrested.”

She looked back up at me, tilting her head in understanding. With apparent ease, she grabbed on a jutting brick and propped herself above the fence.

“Come on,” she suggested. I followed her, realizing how important my position was to guard such a vulnerable area. Hell, the whole thing was vulnerable without us.
When I finally managed to get up, she eagerly leaned in to whisper in my ear.

“I hope to see you in a better place.”

She kissed me then, and walked away from the wall to live her life.

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