22. March 2013 · Comments Off on The Broken Wall · Categories: I. 11 to 12 years, Take Bull by Horns


broken wall

Except for one small two-story concrete apartment building on either side of Star Street, our group of wooden houses is at the very end of the street.  Beyond us there is only the steep grassy slope leading up to a mansion in the distance.  We can see the mansion and a mesh wire fence, but we can’t see that it’s on the same road as our school.

I know because Amelia invited me to her house.  She lives across the road from our school.  After tea, we walked all around the road but we could not see our house from there.

Amelia and I talk about things that I can’t talk about with my street friends.  I know she will still be my friend at school even though I can’t invite her back.

There is a broken wall across the street from our group of houses.  It is what is left of an apartment building.   Most of the wall is about four feet high but part of it rises almost ten feet from the pile of rubble at its base.

The broken wall is probably left there to keep people from falling down a gaping hole, several stories deep, which the gutted apartment house left in the ground.

ShuttlecockI am kicking my feather shuttlecock.  A few small children count as I kick.   They stop counting even though I don’t miss.  They are looking at two street boys who have climbed up on the lower end of the broken wall.   One boy glances down nervously at the other side of the wall and quickly jumps back down to the rubble on the street.   He lands on a small hole and twists his foot.  He limps away.   He sits on the street, rubbing his foot.  The other boy calculates better and lands firmly.

A few more boys approach the wall.   Two of them climb up.  One pulls himself up to the higher section.  Carefully, he walks the length of the wall.    Everyone is watching him.  He does not turn his head.  He does not look at the pit.  He keeps his eyes on his feet.  Then he scans the rubble and moves one step to the side.   He stretches out his arms like a swallow and leaps into the air.   The children gasp.

The boy lands firmly.

Wah!  Wah!  The small fry are in awe.

I run towards the wall.   I climb up.  The boy still on the wall lets himself down.    I struggle and pull myself up to the higher level.  I turn and stare down at the pit.  I walk to where the tough boy had stood.  I spread out my arms and I leap.

I land just as the boy did.

What was I thinking!  I don’t know.  I just wanted to do it.

Small rocks start to fall on the street.  They’re coming from the direction of the mansion on the hill.   All the tough boys run towards the hill.  At the upper part of the slope, ten or twelve children, boys and girls in party clothes, have come down from their fence and are hurling rocks at us.

We start throwing rocks up at them, which don’t get very far before they roll back down.   The snooty brats think this is hilarious fun.  They keep throwing rocks at us as they back up towards their fence.

Suddenly, flames shoot through the grass on the far side of us.  I am startled at how fast fire travels through the grass up the hill.  We rush down before the flames change direction.  We can never outrun them.

When the children on the hill see the smoke they leap over their fence, shouting, and race back to their mansion.   I hear the fire engines up on the Peak road.

The tough boys have scattered.

As I run towards our house I see that there is no one on the street.   An empty street in our neighborhood.  I’ve never seen that.

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