Rise and fall of a...... wall

Submitted into Contest #80 in response to: Write about an elderly character who was part of a historic movement years ago.... view prompt

78 comments

Historical Fiction Inspirational

Tearing up pages, Stephan hauled them into the bin; missing a few shots that went directly into the vase next to it; but he couldn’t be bothered to pick it up. No, he had to write a 500 words history essay, which was due in for tomorrow, and unsurprisingly he forgot about it.

Moaning and groaning, he scribbled out everything he had written; whilst slashing through the page and ripping it into shreds.

“What is all this noise?” asked Karl as his brow furrowed; one eye darted across the room and the other one followed: there were heaps of scrunched up paper all mounted on top of each other, taller than Stephan. Shoving the paper out of the way, he walked up to Stephan and sat beside him on the armchair and to his astonishment he saw something that immediately captured all his attention; the title: ‘The Berlin Wall’. Baffled, yes that’s what he was: baffled.

“Grandpops, I have to do an essay on the Berlin Wall; but I can’t seem to think of anything. History is so pointless and I detest it so much!” exclaimed Stephan; his nose was blown up like an oversized grape, as he huffed, he exhaled all that he had inhaled; which made him choke on air. Spluttering and wheezing, he sat up; and with a watery grin; he looked at his grandpops.

“Can I help you?” asked Karl.

“But grandpops, what do you know about the Berlin Wall; this was way before your time” assumed Stephan; looking up at his grandpops he knew he had said something wrong; but didn’t know what. 

“I was there when it fell down; I saw it all happen” Karl told him.

Stephan was perplexed; he didn’t know this. Maybe I should’ve asked sooner, thought Stephan; it would’ve saved me a lot of time and papers. “Did you help to break the wall down” inquired Stephan.

“No child, I was guarding the wall” responded Karl.

Stephan was bewildered; he had never thought of his Grandpops as being a guard. Nevertheless, he has never actually asked his Grandpops about his life before. All that he knew was that his Grandpops was born and raised in Germany; but nothing else. “Can you please tell me about it” asked Stephan.

“It would be my pleasure” replied Karl.

✦✦✦

“I used to be a guard on duty during the night; during the times when Germany was being separated from east to west; this wall was cut through neighbourhoods and destroyed lives. It was an Iron curtain; and no one could get in or out. It was suffocating for them; it was suffocating for me; it was suffocating for all of the soldiers, but we couldn’t do anything about it.”

“Karl, you take the east side and I’ll take the west” ordered Klaus.

Then I saw them in my peripheral vision; a group of people fleeing from the east to west as there were more job opportunities, more freedom, more hope and a better chance of life. I was feeling pity for them, nevertheless I couldn’t stop myself. “Over there” I exclaimed; pointing towards a sandy, barren land.

All the guards looked across and pointed their soulless clunk of metal towards them. Oh, what have I done! I thought; blood ran away from my fingertips and made them numb. Every cell in my body reeled in shock; I could’ve saved them; I could’ve protected them; I could’ve kept my mouth shut.

As it flies out the chamber and into the air with great elegance, the bullet aimed for the target beyond the shooter. As it pushed through the air with great speed, it gained less distance than before. Until that moment when it strikes through him. The split second when the target falls and what was intended happens; as the bullet scrapes through the internal structure and organs. They could’ve been a father, a husband, a brother or an uncle; but the bullets aren’t merciful; they don’t think twice; they just kill barbarically.

Falling to their knees, a high pitch scream echoed in the ambiance; but was shot down instantly. The bullet tore through the soft human flesh, allowing arteries to spill. This coated the sand in a slick, thick liquid. Blood.

“Good call Karl” exclaimed Klaus.

I reluctantly saluted in acknowledgement.

✦✦✦

“But grandpops, WHY did you shoot them? They didn’t do anything wrong to you” questioned Stephan; his eyes were staring right into his grandfathers, mesmerised by the blonde hair and the blue eyes.

Karl’s disappointment arrived as sadness; he was disappointed with himself. Why DID I kill them? Thought Karl. “I don’t know child, I felt like I had to do it”. He had no other reason and how could he justify his actions? No, there was no way he could.

✦✦✦

The next night, I heard Walter bellow that there were 2 men approaching from the east; but he was mistaken. Oh, he was very mistaken: because there weren’t 2 but thousands of men patrolling towards them. We were overwhelmed by their demand for democracy; they wanted to have the freedom to go wherever they want, and they were going to take it.

Mass shootings began; I held my ammunition up in the air, achieving the maximum damage aiming at the centre of their being: their heart. This wasn’t right; I knew it but I couldn’t stop myself. If I stopped, my own people might kill me. Lying there, the dispatched human beings were smothered in soil and blood; not only their own but each other’s. Each one is a dead child, a dead mother, a dead father.

Crouching downwards, I got a better aim at them. My hands didn’t tremble; not even once because this was our wall, mine to protect and I swore to Germany that I would guard it with all my life. I remembered a time when there were barbed wires; malleable and untarnished; making a slim to none chance of survival. Nevertheless, now they have a wall; segregating lands and people; but Germany will do what it has to do.

“Stop!” screeched Klaus; all the soldiers looked at him bewildered. “I have gotten and order from the Commander, and he said that we have to stop shooting”

So that’s what we did: we stopped shooting. Putting my ammunition behind me, I held it tight to my backbone until I could feel its force building up. I saw natives weeping at their loved ones; bellowing in agony. Hope dwindled from their faces; leaving lifeless beings.

One person came; a brunette-haired boy; with an axe. Upon the handle of aged old oak was a blade of sharpest steel. It had been fashioned in a time when an axe could be anything, from homely firewood maker to something for defence; but now it was a freedom fighter just like him. The clashing of cement and the axe caused it to bleed of dust; the white power was haemorrhaged from this barricade. Soon enough everyone started banging and thrashing their materials; and we were just stood there in awe.

Knocking over pillar by pillar, the rejoicing crowds poured into west Berlin; as people from both sides danced on top of the wall. Klaus was staring in disbelief and so was I. How did they manage this? I thought. There I saw a woman beckoning me to come down; I came down and I saw them; all of them: the people of Germany who didn’t deserve any of this prejudice.

Tearing up the wall, the German people hauled the broken bits to the side; and some shards hit others on the leg; but they couldn’t stop because their freedom lasted on it, for the last 30 years they had endured this estrangement and they had suffered; but not now.

One thing was clear then: the years of division were at an end and Germany would be reunified; and rise above all

✦✦✦

“Wow Grandpops, that was an awesome story. But are you happy that the wall fell?” asked Stephan; he didn’t know what to think of his grandpops he didn’t know what to say; he didn’t know what to feel about all of this. He felt bad for feeling this way.

“Yes, child I am” replied Karl “because without that I wouldn’t have met your grandmother, the women who beckoned me to come down and wouldn’t have seen what Germany was capable of.”

“Grandpops, can you take me to see remaining bits of the wall?” asked Stephan.

“Yes, of course I can” replied Karl.

February 12, 2021 14:44

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78 comments

Brad Nelson
16:55 Feb 19, 2021

Great job with this story. I particularly enjoyed the use of flashback and the ending of the story. It reminded me of "The Princess Bride" with the flashback memories being in place of the grandfather actually telling him. I would agree with some other comments, that the semi-colons were a bit much, as well as a few extra lines that could be trimmed or rephrased. But otherwise, lots of great stuff!

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Palak Shah
17:50 Feb 19, 2021

Yes I understand and I will remember that next time. Thank you so much for reading my story and sharing your feedback on it.

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Cam Weppler
16:10 Feb 19, 2021

I think this is a great story! Comes full circle at the end when Grandpa reveals the story’s about him and Grandma. The child’s original push back on learning about history is really turned around. Just one thing, the semi-colons are a tad much for me. Great story!!!

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Palak Shah
17:49 Feb 19, 2021

Yeah I will remember that for my next story. Thanks for your feedback and thank you for reading my story

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Arya ...
14:46 Feb 19, 2021

Oooh..I loved the way you wrote the imagery of the pain, the destruction around the grandpa and to the people of Germany. Great story. ❤

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Palak Shah
17:47 Feb 19, 2021

Thank you for reading my story and sharing your feedback

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Nora Ouardi
13:35 Feb 19, 2021

I loved how you started off the story (tell me why i laughed at "moaning and groaning lol"), and how powerful you made Karl's story. The idea of the flashbacks were amazing, and how you ended the story with the "love" of the grandparents. Overall, amazing story!

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Palak Shah
13:37 Feb 19, 2021

Lol... Thank you so much for reading my story. Your feedback has been great :))

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Anne Ryan
21:22 Mar 11, 2021

Excellent story!

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Palak Shah
16:48 Mar 12, 2021

Thank you so much :))

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Nitesh Shah
21:04 Mar 11, 2021

Well written. Well done

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Palak Shah
21:06 Mar 11, 2021

Thanks :))

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Payal Shah
20:59 Mar 11, 2021

Great story. Well done

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Palak Shah
21:05 Mar 11, 2021

Thanks :))

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10:51 Mar 09, 2021

Well Written, It was a great time reading✨✨

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Palak Shah
11:43 Mar 09, 2021

Thanks Priyanka for sharing your feedback :))

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David Francis
08:24 Mar 09, 2021

Lovely idea - I particularly like the idea of sundering and being re-joined - you use this effect well in your narrative and there are clearly a number of nuanced layers in this piece. Great work.

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Palak Shah
11:41 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much for commenting and thanks for reading :))

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Philip Clayberg
21:39 Mar 08, 2021

Thank you for writing this story. It was quite an experience to read it. It reminded me of the video of the night that the Wall was broken through and Berlin became one city again. It also reminded me of the last time I visited Berlin (in Summer 1978), when Berlin (and Germany) was still in two halves and the Wall (and the tank traps, barbed wire, and guard towers) still stood. I remember seeing the museum at Checkpoint Charlie and learning about the escape attempts (including a photo of an East German soldier jumping over the initial "w...

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Palak Shah
10:52 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you so much for all your feedback. I will try and take that into account when I'm writing my next story. Thanks for reading :))

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Philip Clayberg
19:06 Mar 09, 2021

You're welcome. But please don't remove the graphic stuff in this story or in future stories if you're absolutely certain it should be there. Just because I'm not keen on graphic description of people getting hurt by gunfire doesn't mean someone else also isn't. I've seen my share of war documentaries and movies based on wars. As I get older, I get less and less interested in the graphic side of war. Not out of numbness, but because I've seen enough of it and don't really want to see more of it. Which is one reason why I've only been t...

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Palak Shah
22:14 Mar 09, 2021

Yes same I have read about wars and I hope that this never happens again.

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Philip Clayberg
23:59 Mar 09, 2021

Well, if the 2017-2020 administration here in America is any indication ... it probably *will* happen again. We humans sadly have short memories when it comes to horrible things. It takes places like museums (both the old-fashioned kind and living museums like the concentration camps in Europe) to keep the past alive. Some people might say that history is irrelevant. I would say that forgetting to learn from the past is irrelevant. Maybe you or I (or both of us) could write stories showing a future time when such horrible things are for...

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Palak Shah
17:13 Mar 10, 2021

yeah I think I should write stories like that

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Angela Halubobya
22:22 Mar 03, 2021

I love how you brought the history to life💕 very interesting choice of words too

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Palak Shah
22:20 Mar 04, 2021

Thank you so much for this comment :))

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Hahahahahhahhahahahahahah sorry I lost it my friends are leeeeaving Nainika please come back soon I miss u and it's only been one day. Sorry to dump that here, I love this story, it's amazing.

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Palak Shah
17:33 Feb 22, 2021

thanks for reading my story :))

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Alexander Katz
16:23 Feb 19, 2021

Solid story, I loved the way you described the journey of the bullet. Almost gave it a life of its own, which I found to be unique. Well done!

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Palak Shah
17:49 Feb 19, 2021

Thank you for reading my story

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Rachel Smith
15:31 Feb 19, 2021

I liked this story. Loved the imagery and thoughts described in the Grandpa's flashbacks to show his side of the story. Well done! One tiny criticism. In my opinion, you tend to overuse colons and semi-colons. Maybe have a little revision of when those are used. They're not needed as often as you might think and the prose would flow better without them.

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Palak Shah
17:47 Feb 19, 2021

Oh okay, thanks for your feedback and reading my story

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Sun Set
09:37 Feb 19, 2021

I love how you convey the message of "Youth Ignorance" through the character Stephan. Karl's story is powerful. But I feel like you cut him short . I loved "As it flies out the chamber and into the air with great elegance, the bullet aimed for the target beyond the shooter. As it pushed through the air with great speed, it gained less distance than before." It shows great Creative intelligence. The ending however, came a bit sooner and lacked emotion. BUT ALL IN ALL A GREAT STORY 💙😁

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Palak Shah
10:31 Feb 19, 2021

Yes I was thinking of that as well; I feel like I should have continued it on more. Thanks for reading and your feedback has been great to see. :))

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Sun Set
10:41 Feb 19, 2021

💙😁

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Rebecca Cole
06:53 Feb 19, 2021

This is very well done, and very compelling! Like some of the other comments mentioned some parts of the dialog were a tad unatural but the rest was beautifully done! Great job!

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Palak Shah
10:30 Feb 19, 2021

Thanks for reading my story and sharing your feedback :))

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05:51 Feb 19, 2021

Wow, this is such a powerful story - I especially liked Karl's character, who, being a guard, was on the 'bad side' and followed the orders diligently but still retained his human side as well. :) Keep up the good work!:))

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Palak Shah
10:29 Feb 19, 2021

Thank you so much for reading my story and sharing your feedback :))

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Pratik Bhandari
04:37 Feb 18, 2021

Amazing, waiting for next :)

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Palak Shah
22:57 Feb 18, 2021

Thank you for reading my story :))

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Jillian Oakes
03:05 Feb 18, 2021

Loved the consistency in the attention to detail all throughout the story. Like everyone else says, the emotion came through clearly and deftly. My only suggestion would be to work on the flow of dialogue, it seemed a bit stiff and unnatural at points. When planning dialogue, I try and read my lines out-loud and add in any little stutters or mannerisms I have to make it read more natural. Overall a great read!

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Palak Shah
22:57 Feb 18, 2021

Yes I understand what you re trying to say and thanks for the tip. Thank you for reading my story and sharing your feedback :))

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Phoebe De Neve
01:46 Feb 17, 2021

Awesome story! Loved the descriptions and the emotion you put into it. I could really feel the grandfather's guilt while he was telling the story. Amazing job!!

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Palak Shah
21:11 Feb 17, 2021

Thank you so much for reading my story :))

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