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Wall Child
by James C. Holland, January 10th 2023

The lemon-yellow wall of the underpass was brightly lit by fluorescent lights but no one was there to see it give birth. Rain clattered on either side and water seeped along the floor like encroaching darkness from outside. The lights went out.

They returned a moment later and revealed a round bulge in the yellow paint of the wall. The lights flickered and there was a handprint pushing outward. The flickering grew more frequent, building to a strobe as the wall swelled and warped in obscene snap shots.

Finally, the underpass was flooded with bright light and the wall burst in an explosion of yellow paint flakes and drool. A tiny figure fell onto the dirty chewing-gum-clotted concrete. It lay, curled in a ball. The child and the hooded jacket that concealed its face were the same lemon-yellow. It stood, slowly and unsteadily, like a foal finding its feet for the first time and looked up at its mother.

They stared at each other without expression. The wall had healed flat. It was blank and evenly lit now that the lights had ceased flickering. Then, inky clouds darkened its surface and coalesced into words in a seemingly handwritten font, but larger than life, like graffiti, or a local council-sponsored art installation.

“believe in yourself,” said the large handwritten words.

The lemon-yellow anorak child stared blankly.

The words turned to ink clouds and floated, shimmered, coalesced again.

“be all you can be,” they said.

The lemon-yellow anorak-child tottered back slightly but continued to stare.

“the world is your oyster.”

The lemon-yellow anorak child turned and took a step up the slope of the underpass, then paused. It turned back and stared again.

The words dispersed into ink clouds, floated for a moment as if thinking and coalesced one final time.

“go away,” it said.

The child walked away, up and out of the underpass, disappearing under a curtain of rain.

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