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Creative Nonfiction Drama Historical Fiction

Emilia jumped up and down, feeling dizzy. The air was electric with anticipation. The crowd rushed and milled about her, and people jostled against each other as they volleyed back and forth in a confused babble of noise. She clutched her mother's skirt in her tiny fist, wide-eyed with excited wonder.

Any other day, this melee would be rife with arguments and shrill frustrated voices; people would be screaming themselves hoarse for getting in each other's way, and faces in the crowd would be impatient, rowdy, and irate with fatigue.

But not today.

Oh, not today.

Her father stooped to picked her up, and she screamed and kicked her heels in glee when he effortlessly swung her up onto his shoulders, immediately raising her to an exalted height. Her father, a giant of a man, was a head taller than most of the people in this crowd, and towered above those closest to them. She commanded a view far beyond that which most people could hope to see.

But no one cared that they couldn't see, not today. Today was for celebration, today was theirs, and the throng thrilled to be out in the open, on this cold November day.

A distant roar sounded, and Emilia squinted her eyes as she tried to see what was happening. The crowd wasn't moving- but soon, Emilia knew, that would change. Her father had said so, and it must be true.

Goosebumps prickled her skin, and she slapped her palms on her father's head as exhilaration shook her. He laughed, raising his large hands to anchor her legs down, keeping her safe as she felt another wave of wild excitement ripple through the people around them. Now they were jumping up and down.

There weren't any other children- most of the people around them were a motley of college goers, workers and older people- but Emilia's mother, in a strange and rare moment that Emilia could hardly believe to be true, had declared this to be a historical day, and one that Emilia must see for herself.

"For the world fought too many wars, dug too many trenches and drove too many barriers between people."

But not today.

No, not today.

Another roar sounded, and slowly, surely, a chant was taken up. It rolled like a large tidal wave through them all, like a shudder following a seismic shock. Even if the earth opened up below them, the people would not turn away.

They knew what they had to lose if they stood down.

Mother had lost her youngest brother to this iron regime. Emilia remembered that day- a cold, grey dawn that had left deep lines of sorrow on her mother's brow. Those cloven lines would stay there for ever, a memorial to her favorite brother, the star of her life. For Emilia, it was the day she grew up in an instant, never to return to her childhood days. Never again would she hear Uncle Leon’s step in the hall- she would not feel his laughter humming through her as he hugged her to him, he'd never bring her chocolate biscuits from Hanover, never again would they see him striding down the road toward them, as he came to visit his 'favorite girls in the world.'

They hadn't even been able to bury him.

The crowd was swelling- more and more people joined, despite the clear resistance to their wishes. But they were not to be cowed. They had waited too long, had proven by their peaceful protests that they knew their rights; they were willing to demonstrate in the streets and squares for them, they would not be muzzled.

They were one.

Emilia suddenly knew it, just as she knew that her heart pounded in her ears to the beat and chant of the people. That they were one.

No more walls.

Out in the distance, the chant was taken up again. This time, she chanted with them- a slow, sure drum-beat that was a clarion call to all and sundry. It would have to reach a crescendo, it would have to break at the crucial moment and portend the charge ahead.

'We will return. We will return.'

The air was now charged beyond bearing, the breaking-point would be any moment now. And just like the moment of silence before a thundering storm, there was a moment that seemed to blow through little Emilia's slender frame, leaving her shuddering and sobbing in gratitude. It was the moment they had all been waiting for, when everything seemed to be held in suspension.

It broke.

The crowd yelled as it suddenly found direction, and there was a rush. It didn't move swiftly- it didn't even move forward- but it surged and crashed against that looming symbol of imposing oppression. There was no stopping them now; they knew where they were headed, they knew their day had come- the day of the people.

Wir sind das Volk!’ 

'We are the people!'

The Wall was suddenly there- people were streaming through the check-points, and officers were scrambling, frantic to hold them back- but the people knew they had won. They had friends on the other side of the Wall, and they were not to be held back.

Not today.

Emilia was screaming herself hoarse, holding onto her father's short locks in a death-grip as he ran full-tilt, one arm around her mother, toward the wall, over those dangerous embankments, carried by the chanting crowd, through the check-point, past the gate, past the flock of harried guards, and then-!

They were there.

They were there.

A new world.

Their world.

The faces here were the same as theirs, the people here were one as them. They had lain in wait, and the air was a burst of rose petals, a symbol for one roseate day in paradise, a day when the Berlin Wall finally came down.

The song of that November day carved a deep impact on the years to come, and the wall that had once stood for the deep divisiveness of political regimes became fragmented, symbols of hope to millions across the world that the people would always prevail.

People who were not to be suppressed.

Not that day.

February 11, 2021 16:50

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2 comments

Michael Boquet
00:45 Feb 18, 2021

Wow, powerful story. You're referencing the Berlin Wall, right? I like the repetition of variants of "not today" throughout. Great build up of tension too. I'm glad we got paired in the Critique email. I hope you'll check out some of my stories too.

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Divya Narasimhan
07:33 Feb 18, 2021

Thank you for your feedback. I enjoyed reading your story too! Looking forward to check out more of them. Yes, this was a reference to the Berlin Wall. Bit out there, but the idea floated into my head and kind of stuck so I went through with it :)

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