What Walls Do

barbed wire curled around a fence post

PHOTO PROMPT © Madison Woods

“Back then it was just a barbed wire fence.”

Liberty tipped his head and squinted at the top of the blood-smeared wall. “How tall is it again? I never remember.”

I shrugged. “Hundred feet. Maybe twice that.”

For a minute we watched four refugees struggle at the postern, where someone had hammered in rail spikes almost halfway up. The guard had yet to take it down. Rumor was six people got over on Sunday. But this family would never make it. Not with a baby.

“Why’d they build it anyway?”

“Well son, back then it was to keep people out.”

This has been an edition of the Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the generous & talented Rochelle Wisoff Fields. This week’s photo courtesy Madison Woods. To read more 100-word flash fiction or to submit your own, click the blue froggy button.

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  1. A great switcharound. Of course even further back then that’s exactly what frontiers were for – keeping people in, rather than keeping others out

  2. Oh that is great. And timely! Well done.

  3. I so love that last line… and I still remember walls to keep people in that has been torn down. Isn’t that how it always turn?

  4. Dear Karen,

    Times change, people don’t I fear. Tense and powerful. Good one.



  5. Walls and wires
    Protection mentality
    Survival of the fittest
    Are we men or beasts?

    Your story triggered this poem!

  6. Mike

    Such a great last line, and very current

  7. peterkirsch

    Very prescient. A fitting commentary.

  8. Tribalism at its finest. We learn nothing from the past. Great story.

  9. IfeomaO

    And now what do walls do. love the title, wasn’t a dead give away for the story which was well written. Cheers.

  10. mickwynn2013

    Great story and so true.

  11. “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall . . . Spring is the mischief in me, why do good fences make good neighbours? Before I built a wall I’d ask what I was walling in and walling out? And to whom I was like to give offence? Good fences make good neighbours.” – Frost

    Whenever I hear Trump or whoever talking about building walls of any kind I think of this poem. It is one of my absolute favourites and teaches such vital lessons.

    Great story. Very relevant as people have said.

  12. interesting point of view. well done.

  13. Topical take, well done.

  14. Nice last line. Walls work both ways.

  15. What a timely piece! I despise the notion, but I’m certain many do not. Walls are meant to be climbed, aren’t they? Lol

  16. It seems to me walls can do two things. The story made it clear.
    Good work, Karen!

  17. I love the dialogue between parent and child. Dreadful answers to innocent questions.

  18. Wonderfully written.

  19. Oh I like that twist with the inference that now the wall is too keep them in. I wonder if ever we do build a wall in this country will there be a time when Americans want to get to Mexico?

  20. This line: ““Well son, back then it was to keep people out” is the first moment I see America’s border-wall as negative. Thank you for offering a bit of reason to bulk ideals.

  21. There’s a lot of story tucked into these few words. Well done, Karen.

  22. Karen,

    I especially like your use of “back then” in this. We need to be so careful what we institute today. Tomorrow is coming.


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