Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: The Fence
By JC Hummel
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The fence has existed for as long as I can remember. We can see it from our backyard. When it was built twelve years ago, dad planted a row of lilac bushes to block it from our view when we sat in our kitchen.
Mother said the Anderson’s used to be our closest neighbors, but their house was torn down because it was right in the path of the new border. They found a new place in the village, and even though they lost their home, they are happy to be living on the southern side — the egalitarian side.
Unfortunately, it was different for our neighbors, the Philips, they lived further north and under the treaty are now the inhabitants of the newly formed country, The People’s Free Republic. They are not free or safe. They are not allowed to leave. Their government is oppressive and is lead by a dictator. Most of us have friends and relatives who live in this newly-formed country and fear we will never see them again.
Over the years some people have been able to get over the fence. One night there was loud banging on our back door and my father found a man collapsed on our step, dirty and bloodied. When we brought him inside he was half starved and exhausted. When he started speaking about the atrocities being committed on his people — our people, my father told me to leave the room. Mom gave the man food and cleaned his wounds. When the officials came to take him to his relatives who lived in the next town, he cried and thanked us for our kindness.
This morning a government official came by our house. He told us The People’s Free Republic is very upset so many people are escaping. Starting tomorrow they will be trekking in prisoners from the labor camp to dig up the dirt and then bury landmines.
Mother started crying. “How can they be so cruel.” She was so distressed she had to sit down at the kitchen table. “The Philips got word to us yesterday. Their youngest grandson is very sick and they can’t get the medicine he needs. We wanted to try and get it to him.”
“I think it may be too late. The People’s Free Republic told their citizen’s they will shoot anyone found near the border.” The official said.
This evening we sit out in our backyard staring at the stars, knowing that tomorrow will bring more hardship for the people on the other side of the fence
“Dad, how did our country get this way?” I said.
“Son, it is hard to believe life has gotten this bad. We used to live in a beautiful, tranquil country and we were prosperous and happy. Then people started to rely on their own judgment and rejected God. Everything happened so fast. Protests lead to anarchy and then anarchy lead to war. Neighbors became enemies.”
“Do you think there is any hope the people on the other side will be free?” my younger brother’s voice echoed in the darkness.
“There is always hope,” my father said. “Once we have our faith, there is always hope.”
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