The Fence

The Fence

A Story by skyejennings

The girl was staring at me from the other side of the yard, beyond the fence.

Even from as far away as the window, I could make out her smooth, coffee colored skin, faded brown eyes, and two stiff braids of hair that swung with the song of the wind and painted the purple shoulders of her t-shirt. Colorful, crackling leaves whisked around her slight figure in a whirlwind of radiance and from my inferior vantage point at the window, the girl seemed almost magical. 

I could see a slight tilt in her lips that gave them a pursed and thoughtful look and a small crease along her eyes that showed me she was focusing on something delicate. Intrigued by her behavior, I followed her paper-thin hand as it danced with the breeze and floated over the wired fence. It brushed the rusting coils with careful vigilance and her fingers rested softly on the rungs as if they were playing on a grand piano. She seems so interested in this small barrier and I can’t seem to understand why. 

“Can you not climb over it?” I had opened the window and called out to her, not even realizing what I had done. 

She looked up, lines of surprise running across her forehead like a herd of wild horses. She shook her head no and turned her head down in fear. 

“Why not?” I asked her, curious to hear her response. 

“It’s not proper to cross into a neighbor’s yard.” I can barely hear her for her thin lips are facing the dirt of the ground and trying to blend in.

“I do it all the time! Mr. and Mrs. Crew let me into their yard to play with their swings whenever I want! Same with Ol’ Mr. Smith… ‘cept you might not wanna play in his yard because he can be kinda grumpy if he just woke up from a nap.” 

She looks up at me curiously, considering my statement, but once again becomes engrossed with the mud at her feet and covers her eyes from my view. 

“I can’t.”

“But why not?”

“Because you’re white.” She says it so quietly I can barely hear her and even then I don’t quite understand.

“What do you mean I’m white?”

“You have white skin. And I have black.” I laugh at her.

“Of course I do. But why can’t you come over the fence?”

“I can’t.” She begins to walk sadly away and her hands scrape across the wire of the divider as she departs.

“Wait!” I yell. “Don’t go!” But all I see is her retreating figure gliding across the earth. As she walks away, I stare at the fence between our yards and the disgusting image exuding from its weak frame. I look at the rust and the broken coils and my nose wrinkles in disapproval. I hate the fence. I hate its injustice. 

I sprint outside into the burning sun of the Alabama Summer and grab the little play shovel I’d gotten for my birthday. Gripping its handle with all my might, I hammer it into the wire and will it to break. Will it to tear down the bonds of discrimination tainting my yard. Although I didn’t quite understand the pain the fence was causing me, I knew the pain it was causing the girl. And it angered me. “Come back!” I yell. “It’s gone! See! I broke it down!”

I feel tears licking my cheek as I pound the barrier and I howl in childish defiance of the racism I’d never been able to recognize that encompassed my life. 

And although the heat of that sweltering summer day subsided into fall, winter, and spring, I never forgot the girl and the fence. 

She must have been magic…


© 2017 skyejennings



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Added on August 24, 2017
Last Updated on August 24, 2017

Author

skyejennings
skyejennings

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just an aspiring writer lookin' for some feedback/general thoughts! :) more..

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