Chapter 1: The Beginning
The wall is so long, so solid, so fortified against her, making sure she can never possibly join with it.
Its taunts to her despair are almost audible. This long held aspect of her relationship with the wall does not stop her from staring at its brick edifice from a respectable distance.
For Ilona, this is the nature of her life for what seems like forever plus a day. The wall fills that ache of heaviness existing in the pit of what she calls a life. She wants to, needs to, find a way to become a part of this long brick wall that is far older than she.
Or rather, what the wall hosts.
Every day at lunchtime, the students of SummerFall Junior School mill about the playground and engage in all sorts of the usual activities expected of them. Multiple games of tag zip through and around kids running and jumping and wandering around gossiping about parents and life and television. The mutually agreed upon chaos happens like clockwork every weekday, starting with bursting doors at twelve and ending with scurrying stragglers seeking re-entry just before one o’clock.
Amidst all this joyfulness stands Ilona.
She is small and compact for her twelve years of age, which never bothered her since she really does not want to be noticed. Plain, non-descript clothes complete her disguise of blending in. This is her fervent wish. Staying unknown to all including herself. Or so she keeps telling herself, while pangs of pain hint at different, traitorous thoughts.
Hence why she stands like a sentinel at a distance from the prized wall. One leg wants to move and lead and find some sanctuary with nary a soul around. The other leg stays rooted and tries to figure out the next step in this unknown journey. Going forward, to the wall, and joining its community, is the impulse here.
For this wall plays house to an event every noontime.
A gathering of girls.
All sit with heads cast down, reading and enjoying and communing about a book that escaped Ilona’s notice when it had appeared some while ago. This new shift in playground reality, with the group forming out of the ether, clutching these paperbacks, and using the wall as a base for their fandom, bewildered Ilona. It just seemed to snap into reality overnight, with nary a whisper from the universe in ways of a warning.
The five of them were plucked from both grade five classes by fate and happenstance, all to join into this unofficial club. Ilona knows two of the girls from her class this year and last, but doubts either of them has a clue of who and what she is.
And Ilona does not like this. Why is she not included in this moment? Why is the universe punishing her? She hates these thoughts filtering through her being. And she hates standing, watching, yearning, and wasting all of those precious minutes of eternity feeling this way.
One part has to win this battle, she knows this, and that will only happen tonight.
If she is brave enough.
Ilona finishes her daily staring, suffering through the rest of what they call school, and goes home with a frown as her only companion. Listlessly completing her homework, only stopping to make supper for herself and her ever-working parents. The absolute drudgery of this endless routine makes Ilona long even more for the release this idea might enable.
“Hello Ilona! We’re back!” comes the shout from the door as it swings open with the usual clatter. Her mother never needs to announce this fact every time, since the noises of their entry provides plenty of warning.
“How is our little one who is not so little anymore?” her dad says while tilting his head back and forth. He has done that move since as far as Ilona could remember. She found it cute and endearing and it made a special feeling perk up inside. “Pretty good,” Ilona lies, as she always does. Leaning into each other, she gives her dad a hug and brushes her cheek against his overly bushy moustache. She finds this annoying and aggravating and it creates a rock in her stomach. She never liked that moustache, which predates her by several years.
“So what did you make to poison us with this time?” her mother smiles while rubbing her fingers through Ilona’s dark hair. This felt good, since Ilona’s hair is the one part of herself she likes. It is the same kind of hair grandmother Stacy had. And grandmother Stacy was beautiful.
“Oh the usual, stew from the old country, but with more carrots,” Ilona states while swaying one leg back and forth behind her. She knows her dad would approve. He loved it when she made stew from where he was from. This was part of the plan. She felt partly bad for doing this, but desperation claims so many morals these days.
Ilona lets the small talk dissipate as her parents cleanse themselves of all elements of that day’s work. She would have time to finish those last vestiges of homework still awaiting, and far more importantly, build up the courage for what is to come.
Ilona changing her life.
Supper seems forever away, but then happens out of nowhere. All three cram around the dining room table, heartily pouring stew into bowls with much smiling and laughing floating around. Ilona joins in, hoping not to raise suspicion of her plans. The meal continues, with Ilona lying about how wonderful her school day was, something her parents would have no clue of. They unknowingly reciprocate with falsehoods about how well their business was doing, something they have no idea Ilona is fully aware of. And has been for quite some time. Walls are thin and secrets can be heard from them.
This is what made the next step so momentous. As the dessert of a few cookies each is portioned out, Ilona finally decides now is the time, while everyone is happy and with full bellies. She has to say it quickly, but nicely, and hope the universe will take pity on her plight.
“Can I get a book?” she asks, like it is a normal request in her household.
Song For This Chapter: All You Need Is Love by The Beatles.
The Passport To The Wall is Copyright 2013 to Paul Riches
You can also read, comment, and vote on The Passport To The Wall on Wattpad.
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.