A feeling between us
by Cath Barton
Back then, I never knew whether the wire was designed to keep us in or them out. Mother said I wasn’t to go near it, but I disobeyed her. Of course I did. Especially at sunset. I’d see them beyond the wire, walking in twos. They wore strange clothes. Long skirts. But they were too far away to see properly. Probably they’d been told to keep away as well.
Then one day the girl was there, just her, hands clutching the wire, the barbed wire. It hurt me to see her like that and I cried out to her, but she didn’t move. Just looked at me. She didn’t speak. Just kept looking.
“Are you all right?” I said.
She said nothing. I knew she couldn’t be all right. A person who was all right wouldn’t grab barbed wire that would make their fingers bleed. But I couldn’t do anything for her and I turned and walked away. I didn’t feel good about that but what else could I do.
I wanted to tell someone but obviously I couldn’t tell Mother and there was no-one else I could trust. So I waited until the next evening, when the colours came up in the sky and I went back. She wasn’t there, not at first. I waited, because I had a feeling. Like you do. I had a feeling that she would come. And she did.
I saw her shape approaching, her head and the long clothes, dark against the purples and oranges of the sunset. Then she was there and this time she smiled. I smiled back. She didn’t hold the wire. Just stood there, on the other side. We stood there was a long time, looking at one another. Looking at one another through the wire. And smiling. It was so different from the way it is with my own people. There was a feeling between us.
That night I couldn’t sleep for thinking about the girl. Mother heard me tossing in my bed, came and smoothed my brow and made soothing noises.
“One day soon,” she said. I pretended to be asleep. I knew she wouldn’t say any more. That was the way things were back then. I knew that soon might never come.
It went on like this, me and the girl meeting, wordlessly, across the wire. Until things changed, just like that. Some kind of break out. That was what people said afterwards. Mother woke me one night. Shook me awake.
“It’s time,” she said. “Come quickly.”
I didn’t ask questions. Just followed her, but I looked back towards the wire as we left. Everything was black. If there’d been anyone there I wouldn’t have been able to see them. Or her.
It’s been a long time now but I’ve never forgotten the girl, and the feeling between us. It’s still there, perhaps stronger. And I hope that one day, one day soon, I’ll see her again.
Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in South Wales. Her short fiction is published is various anthologies and here and there on-line. She blogs at https://cathbarton.wordpress.com
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