Late one night someone built a fence through the center of town right down Main Street. Barbed wire, about 8′ tall, and it hummed with electricity. No way I was going to touch it. I walked along the fence to the east, but even after several miles out of town, I couldn’t see the end of it. Same when I walked to the west.
We could see each other, from both sides of the fence, and speak to each other, but no one could cross over to the other side, no one could reach through to shake hands or anything. This was uncomfortable, even difficult. The school was on this side, but the fire department was on the other. They had the library and the movie theater, but we had the grocery store and gas station. But we muddled along. We always do.
The teacher agreed to sit on her side of the fence while the children on our side would do their learning, numbers and reading and such. We figured a way to catapult food over the fence. You’d think we would build a stairway or something, or ram through the fence, but every time we tried, the stairs would be gone by morning, and the fence didn’t seem any worse for wear when we drove a car into it, although the same can’t be said for Henry. Electrocuted when he tried running his Dodge pickup through the fence, failed, and stepped out of the truck. We didn’t try that again.
After a while, some of us got to thinking those on the other side must have done something wrong to be segregated like that. I didn’t care much for the rumors, but sometimes, walking along the fence, I’d catch a glimpse of someone on their side eyeing me like I’d done something to deserve being on this side. Uncomfortable. Mostly we avoid the fence now.