What’s it About?
Barry finds himself in a room that has an invisible wall, closing in on him.
**The genre and more details of this story are best appreciated at the finale so – no hints before reading. I will recap in my author notes at the end. Happy Reading.**
( 15 Minute Read )
For the first time, Barry took a puff of an unfiltered cigarette, making his breathing difficult. While coughing, large puffs of smoke came out of his mouth. He watched the cloud travel to the center of the room. Without warning, the noxious fumes bounced back in his direction before fading away.
“It’s getting closer,” he decided.
Standing near the location where the smoke changed direction, he reached out. His hand touched the invisible barrier that kept him inside the room. The door entrance was the only thing originally covered by the transparent wall. With a sharpie, he got on his knees, marking the floor where the barrier started and ended. The last mark was 25 feet back. The barrier moved passed that mark to its current location. Barry stood up and looked at the remaining space he had left in the room. 18 feet. The wall was closing in on him.
In the space he had left was a single bed, ottoman, and an iPad tablet poking out from under a pillow. His lungs burned as he pulled a second drag on the cigarette. Without hesitation, he flicked it at the invisible barrier. It passed through as orange and blue-yellow sparks burst from the projectile, dying out as it hit the floor.
“Inanimate objects can pass through but people cannot,” he surmised. “Good thing it flamed out on the floor or I would have burned alive in here,” he concluded. Barry envisioned the room on fire as flames passed through the wall trapping, then setting him ablaze, in agonizing pain.
“Evie!” he yelled at the top of his lungs as stress levels rose. “And sound doesn’t pass through,” he concluded. It was easier to blame the wall than admit she was gone. Months ago. The family was split. Broken. Torn apart. His eyes became watery as he sat on the bed. Grabbing the tablet, he smashed it hard across the bedpost until the bright glass display began to spiderweb and fade out. Barry threw the broken device to the floor then turned his attention to the ottoman. Inside was a book called ‘The Space Were In,’ by Katy Balen, pencils, a line notepad, two Twinkies, and can of Coke.
“Nothing in here I can use to break the wall,” he said to himself, eating one of the little sponge cakes and sipping warm soda. He sat the can down hard, causing the soda to erupt a sugary mess on the floor. He took another measurement. Lost half a foot. ’17 and a half feet left before I’m crushed,’ he thought. Barry chewed on his lip as he searched the ottoman again, this time grabbing the notepad.
“There must be something I can use,” he said, fidgeting with the notepad and pencil. The first page had the handwritten title ‘Breaking The Barrier Wall.’ “This thing has a name,” he said, while shifting his weight left foot to right. His hands shook involuntarily as he turned pages seeking answers. Only sketches of people, comic figures, and small doodles were on the pages.
He measured the floor again. 15 feet. One sketch on the notepad had 4 bobblehead stick figures working together to hold open lines on a page. Wait. That’s it! It was held open like…the wall. Four figures, a break in the wall. The 4th Wall! It could be broken!
He measured the floor.10 feet. Holding on to the notepad and pencil, he jumped on the bed. “I can break it! I can! I can!” he chanted while banging his head on the headboard. “But I need more time!” he shouted as his head collided with the headboard over and over.
Hearing the commotion, I ran up the stairs two steps at a time. I stood at the entrance of Barry’s room. I used my senses to assess the situation.
I smelled a hint of smoke, saw the floor covered with black marks, spilled soda, and a broken tablet. My boyfriend’s autistic 14 year old son was banging his head on the padded headboard for some unknown reason. I decide to ask a question that was non confrontational.
“Barry?” I asked loud enough to be heard but not yelling. “Is it okay for me to step in your room?” The head banging stopped as Barry thought about my question, then looked directly at me.
“Yes, its okay with my permission, but only for 10 minutes…starting now.” He used the same tone of voice as the digital assistant Siri would have used on the tablet.
I stepped in his room slowly, eyeballing the remains of a cigarette, a smashed iPad, and soda spilled on the hardwood floor. The book I gave him to read was on the floor too, but it looked intact. I kept my distance, watching him on the bed. I hoped the book would be a safe subject to discuss to keep him calm.
“Did you like the story in the book I gave you? It’s about a family learning to live together, with a special needs child. It reminded me of you. What did you think about it?” I asked as he settled down.
“I was going to write my own story about Evie going away and being sad but I got writer’s block and the wall closed on me,” then he added, ” You have 6 minutes left.”
I didn’t know what wall he was talking about so I focused on what I did know.
“Your mom loved you very much but she became ill. Just think about all the fun stuff you did with her when she was – here,” I trailed off.
“Times up!” I heard him say as he suddenly threw the notepad he was holding in my direction. It hit me in the shoulder before I could duck, but it didn’t injure me. I inched my way to the door, keeping an eye out for the pencil. I didn’t want him to become agitated again so I backed tracked to the kitchen. It was his father’s job to control tantrums, not mine.
The pot with homemade pasta had ran out of water and burned the bottom of the pan while Barbara was upstairs with Barry.
“Shit!” she yelled as she threw the burning pan in the garbage, her tolerance for life’s problems was used up. She was not a maid. She was not a special needs counselor. She was not married to Barry’s father. Barbara rubbed her shoulder where she imagined a broken tablet making impact instead of a paper notepad. She turned off the other pots on the stove and switched the lights off as she left the kitchen. Sitting at Jonathan’s bar, she made herself a drink. After sipping the strong beverage, she decided they would have a serious conversation about their relationship as soon as he walked in the door.
Copyright © Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved
***“The Wall,” is young adult flash fiction about an autistic teenager that recently lost his mother in death. Barry tries to write his feelings down but experiences writers’ block, which manifests in his mind as a physical wall that is closing in on him. Barbara, his dad’s girlfriend, contemplates if she can live with a child that has special needs. The story is written in the 3rd and 1st point of views.
I created an Artificial Intelligent Voice (Text To Audio Software) to read the above synopsis about “The Wall.” The software is called Speechelo if you like this kind of thing. Click on the audio file below to hear it read to you.***
My story idea came from a creative writing piece called “Never A Writer“by Sam Goldie Kirk. It’s an abstract memoir about writing ideas down from the mind of an aspiring author in a unique prison. It’s good – go read it!
My story is different from Goldie’s, however had I not read his creative writing, I would not have come up with the idea for this piece. The key is – in addition to WRITING our own work, we as authors must READ the works of others to become good at our craft. ☺️
I thank you all for reading and commenting.