Across the Record Player

I hoisted the sack over my shoulder and felt its contents shift and settle on my back. The heaviest package dug into my right shoulder blade. Setting my teeth firmly together, I clenched my jaw and reached up to grasp the top of the wall in front of me with my left hand. Right hand on the sack, left hand on the wall's ledge.

The wall was about a foot above my head, just high enough for my arm to reach the top when fully extended. The wall was as black as my daughter's hair, and almost as shiny. Gripping the edge with my hand, I pulled myself up. I felt my muscles ripple and move the sack around. One armed pull-ups, they were simple once you got the technique down. The left was always for pulling, the right for carrying. Every Dimmie knew this; it was taught to us as babes. We practiced on the wooden fields with fake walls and heavy loads. Climbing and carrying, left and right, respectively. That was the Dimmie way.

I dropped the sack down the other side and swung my body deftly over the wall. I lowered myself down and landed softly next to my sack.

I was supposed to hold onto the sack, no matter what. I was strong enough, but I had been climbing these walls for the whole afternoon and I had become lazy. 178 walls climbed, 22 walls to go. What did it matter if I dropped the sack down the other side?

Hoist, grip, climb, drop, swing, drop.

It was a rhythm that I had learned and felt easily. I almost had the urge to whistle as I settled into the climbing groove.

As I dropped down over one wall, I was confronted with a sight that I had never seen before. The wall was split in front of me, its edges jagged and rough. The gap was so large that I was able to step through cautiously without touching either side. The next wall was broken as well, and the next, and the next. My stomach turned in fear to wonder what had caused these walls to break open.

I had to get to the village and tell the others. I rapidly climbed the remaining four walls and didn't drop the sack. My muscles ached with the weight of my load, and I told my muscles to hush, speed was more important than pain right now.

I leapt from the ledge and landed four leagues below. Dimmies could jump from massive heights and land gently but could not jump vertically. That is why we were such good climbers with strong and muscly backs. Ditri said that was our curse: to climb and climb and climb, always wanting to go higher.

I ran to the village, hoping to see Ditri along the way so he could stand next to me when I approached the counsel. A broken wall is not to be taken lightly. A broken wall meant that someone else was influencing our world. A broken wall meant danger. Ditri couldn't help with the wall, but he could help me stand strong during the questioning.

Panting, I reached the well that marked the entrance of our village.

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