a step forward
They took a step forward. A warning siren sounded as sentry guns auto-targeted. Red lights flashed threateningly along the top of the border wall as a digital voice commanded, “Stop. Do not enter the barrier zone. The defense guns are programmed to fire at any incursion into the barrier zone.”
They took a step forward. Missiles, artillery shells, and drone-grenades had preyed upon them for weeks. A ratcheting of generations-old violence that always trapped them in the middle. A cycle of repression, discrimination and privation stranding them without a recognized past or a believable future, only the unrelenting churn of an uncertain present.
They took a step forward. So hard not to look back at what they were leaving behind. Their reason for being: their children. After another night of bombing, holding their young through the terror, they’d quietly left their children sleeping in the calm of dawn.
They took a step forward. At the twisted and rusted fence that marked the beginning of the barrier zone, tens of thousands of adults, young and old, pushed. The fencing rattled like prison chains as posts bent and collapsed forward.
They took a step forward. Many were now standing on the barrier fence, twenty meters from the immense wall separating the two lands. A giant projected image appeared on the wall. A stately man with heavy jowls, silvering hair and cool eyes looked down upon their thousands.
They took a step forward. When the statesman spoke, the air reverberated. “End this madness. Return home. Leaders are negotiating an end to the violence.”
They took a step forward. The warning siren blared but was cut off when the virtual statesman flashed his hands. “Stop. We will not be intimidated. This action does not pose a threat to us. If you proceed further, the sentry guns will fire. What is it you want?”
They paused. Each had considered this question. Each had searched their soul for years and years. Each had determined the same answer.
“Our future!” roared the people.
They took a step forward. The sentry guns fired. The leading line of the crowd crumpled. Those behind took a step forward.
The statesman held up his hand again. “Turn around. Go home. Do not waste anymore lives. Think of your children.”
They took a step forward. The sentry guns fired.
Again and again.
They could not end the violence themselves. They could not crush the might of their oppressors. They could not promise their children a hopeful future. They were but slaves. So, let the masters decide what was to become of their children. Let them bear the full weight of their mastery. The fate of children.
Until they could not, or their oppressors would not, they took a step forward.