Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | April 21, 2011

The Edge of Outside

Sculpture in Göttingen, Germany.

Image courtesy of Daniel Schwen and Wikimedia Commons.

The world is coming unwrapped. Blue sneaks in through the cracks, bringing wisps of wind and tick-tocks of rain. Sometimes it seems I am the only one who loves the edges. The rest ignore the bars, and some wish they always stayed closed, locking out the unknown brightness.

I wonder. What if the world wasn’t always wrapped up? What if the bars used to be so far apart you could step right through?

“Hey, Ezzy.” Flin’s standing behind me with a group of walkers. He’s so tall I have to twist my head around and up to look into his eyes.

“Hello,” I greet him politely, but inside I’m wishing he would take his friends and walk somewhere else. They’re supposed to watch the edges for things trying to get in, not kids looking out.

“Get out of here.” He’s not meeting my eyes. I’m just a minor annoyance. An anomaly of a kid who won’t leave a mystery alone.

You get out.” I grumble.

“Oh-oh-oh!” Flin shakes his head slowly. “Hey, Gina, what happens if Ezzy won’t go?”

Gina shrugs. “Toilet duty for three weeks if we’re nice. Otherwise…”

“You ever put your hand through?” I ask before she can name an even stupider punishment for me doing nothing wrong.

“That’s crazy! She’s crazy.” Flin laughs and looks around at his group, but they’re not laughing. Gina and a little skinny boy I don’t know look worried.

“Go ahead, dare me!” I hold a hand near a gap in the bars, a gap just big enough.

“What if they close suddenly?” The skinny boy’s voice shakes. “They’re always closing, SNAP, and your hand falls right off! Like happened to that crazy guy.”

I know what happened. He wasn’t paying attention – he didn’t know the patterns. I do. The bars won’t close for another ten minutes at least.

“I’ll do it,” I say, expecting them to walk on, walk away.

“Ok. Go ahead.” Flin smirks. He doesn’t think I will.

“No – don’t. Come on, let’s go.” Gina and the skinny boy start to leave, but Flin stares into my eyes.

I wonder what it feels like out there. It is warmer or colder? Does the air sting? Is there food? Other people? Or just what we can see through the bars – parched earth and sky stretching on and on?

I’m not afraid. I lift my arm and hold my fingers out toward an open space. Gina shrieks and hides her face, but I can tell she’s still peeking out between her fingers. She can’t help it – she wants to know. We all want to know, deep down, even if we pretend not to.

I move my hand out, pushing through the emptiness into the unknown.

CREAK! The bars shift.

“AAHHH!” The skinny boy screams, and for a second I’m afraid I misjudged it, the bars are closing, I’ll lose my hand…

But my hand is still there, still hovering outside, and the bars are opening, not closing. The space is big enough now for another hand, maybe a foot.

My heartbeat speeds up. I forget I have an audience.

Please, open all the way! I beg. I pull my hand back and move my face towards the opening.

“No!” Gina lunges forwards to pull me back, but Flin stops her.

“Shhh. I wanna see what happens!”

The air outside is cool on my face. Fresh and free. The bars open wider.

I wonder if they’ll come with me, but I doubt it. This is my adventure.

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