Once upon a time, there was a wall. It was an ancient wall that had been there so long, no one remembered why it was there. The beings on one side of the wall wondered, "Was it built to keep us out or to keep something in?" The beings on the other side of the wall wondered, "Was it built to keep us in or something out?"
No one had the answer.
The curiosity on each side of the wall grew more and more intense with each passing day. There was a hunger in some to know just what was on the other side of that wall. It must have been something terrible (or maybe wonderful?) that caused someone to build this wall so long ago. What was it? Scientists from both sides reported that if you stood near the wall and touched its smooth stones; if you pressed your ear to the stones, you could sense the energy on the other side; you could almost hear something moving. There was something there. But no one wanted to be the one to find out exactly what or who it was.
Everyone took sides. Some felt it was too dangerous to remove the wall, especially without knowing what was behind it. Some felt that the wall must come down because there was something there. The bumper stickers and tee shirt businesses boomed with speculation. Social media enthusiasts lost more friends than they could count. Politicians won and lost elections.
Yet, nothing changed. The wall and what was behind it remained a mystery to both sides of the wall.
One day, a young girl was at the wall with her classmates on a school trip. The teacher was reciting the long-ago written history of the wall: that it was created by someone many years ago; to keep something in or something out. The wall was part of the history of the people and the planet. Don’t touch it; don’t step too near it. Photographs may be purchased at the gift shop after the tour. Please stay in line.
The little girl noticed something, however. She noticed a tiny shaft of light coming from the wall. It was so tiny, no one else had noticed it but not everyone had the advantage of being a little girl and only 38” tall. She left the line, despite the teacher’s warning and peered through the tiny, tiny hole. Much to her surprise, another someone peered back at her. She gasped and stepped back. She looked around and noticed that her teacher was going on about the wall and hadn’t even noticed that one of her pupils had disobeyed and crossed the line. So, she peeked again. So did the someone on the other side.
“Hello.” The someone on the other side said.
“Hello.” replied the little girl.
“Are you a monster?” She finally asked.
“No. Are you?”
“No. At least, I don’t think I am.”
“What are you?”
“I’m a little girl. I’m a person. What are you?”
“I’m a person, too,” the small boy voice responded.
“What’s your name?” The little girl asked.
“Joseph. What’s yours?”
“Beanie. It’s short for Beatrice but no one calls me that.”
“Why is there a wall here?” Joseph asked.
“I don’t know. I was hoping you knew.” Beanie answered.
By now, the teacher noticed that Beanie was missing from her group. Very soon thereafter, Beanie felt a stern hand on her shoulder.
“Beanie, come away from the wall. It’s dangerous. Didn’t you hear me say that?”
“But it isn’t dangerous. There are people on the side; just like us.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Come away, Beanie, before there’s trouble.”
Beanie was led away by the teacher, but before she got too far, she turned back to the wall and that tiny shaft of light.
“Bye, Joseph. I won’t forget you!”
The teacher was visibly annoyed.
“There’s no one there, Beanie, certainly not a person named Joseph. The other side of the wall is a very dangerous place.”
Suddenly there was a voice, small and distant, as if a wall separated them. It was Joseph.
“Bye, Beanie. I won’t forget you either.”
The teacher was stunned and stopped in her tracks. Was it a trick or had they discovered the long lost secret to the wall?
“Come, class,” she called to the rest of her students. “Come see what Beanie has discovered.”
And the lesson that day took a decidedly different turn.