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The Boy in the Wall

by feodora

Spoiler! :
This idea was something I made up in thirty minutes for some lame story-writing competition. I messed it up there, still got a consolation prize! I find myself appalled, but I'm not complaining~

Still. Enjoy this. I tried - not my best, but yeah. Just a lonely little rewrite. The story seems to be in a strange sort of universe, but I wasn't exactly completely sane when I wrote this.

This story has been linked to from my Tumblr.

It was raining in Shytown when Yuri got off the bus. It wasn't a particularly fierce kind of rain either, just a dismal damp drizzle that painted everything in melancholy shades of gray. The pavements were covered with puddles - his water-prone shoes would never be the same again.

Still. Tomorrow was his day off. The sun would dry them fit to wear.

He plodded up the road to his house, umbrella unfurled over his head - they'd want him at work the day after regardless of whether he had a cold or not, and it was always easier to work without a pill pulling his mind down. It was just as well Mother had made him take his umbrella with him.

The house was a three-storeyed old lady that had seen better days. It leaned to one side and leaked in the winter, but he'd learnt to call it home. It was a lonely neighborhood, but he didn't complain. Mother knew what was safest. He unlocked the door, knowing very well that his little sister would be waiting for him by the entrance. He'd had one day home in a week for three years, and he knew that she waited for him every single week. She'd stand at the window, and when the bus had spat him out and rumbled on back to the City, she'd run down to the landing and wait for him. She wasn't allowed out that door, so she would wait for him.

"Yuri, you're late late late!" She'd say that, too. Every single week. "Do you have anything for me?"

Yuri took a small box out of his pocket. "I know you like puzzles," he said, passing it to her. She carefully unstuck the clear tape and unwrapped it. "It's a Rubik's Cube." He personally hated them, but he'd never really solved one till date. Maybe she would have better luck.

Darya ran back inside with little hopping steps, calling to Mother. "Mama, see what Yuri got for me!"

"You spoil her," was the reply, but the voice was fond, and Yuri knew Mother was glad to see him. He was glad too; his dinner was warm on the table and there was Darya to talk to.

"You've grown thinner," he told her. "Running around the house, no doubt." She nodded, absently adjusting the cube.

"This thing isn't very easy, is it?"

"It infuriated me for ages."

Darya giggled. "Then I'll be able to solve it," she concluded, "I'm far cleverer than you!"

"That you will," interjected Mother, coming into the living room. "Tomorrow. I've already let you stay up past your bedtime, Darya." She was using her Formal Tone, and her lined grey eyes were unrelenting. "Go to bed."

"But Mama, Yuri just got here-"

"You heard me." She looked at him for support, but he shrugged at her apologetically. "You don't want to be too tired to play tomorrow, right?" It was more likely that he would be the one too tired to play, but it worked. Darya sighed and headed for the stairs. "Good night," she replied. Yuri's mouth was far too full of food to reply.


Later, as he stepped past Darya's bedroom on the way to his own, he noticed the light in her room was still on. "What are you- oh." She was asleep, the covers pulled up to her chin. Why had she left the lights on? The Rubik's Cube was inches from her face. Perhaps she'd been too lazy to get up and switch on the light. That would be just like her.

She was still a very small girl, he thought, almost lost in all the covers. A wisp of a girl with large dark eyes and a mop of dark hair. Little birdlike movements. A habit of collecting small things that served her fancy: a crow's feather, a shiny blue pebble, a single grey mitten and a plastic top decorated the top of her desk. They were very odd playthings for a girl.

But she was a very odd girl.

How could she help it? But Mother had her reasons. Before they had moved here, they'd lost their little bird to magpie spirits. That's what they'd had Darya believe, when she asked them why she didn't remember things from some time ago. What she didn't know was that those magpies had a taste for money.

Now they were here, in Shytown, where nobody knew them. No magpies. Darya was safe in Mother's hands, she'd never let her little bird out of her sight.

Wondering absently if she'd lost the other mitten of the pair, Yuri switched off the light and headed to his bedroom.


It was funny how good perfectly ordinary food tasted when you were hungry. Yuri hoovered up his share, nodding and grunting absently as Darya babbled on about strange things she'd dreamt up in the week he'd been gone.

"-and he said he'd see me today, too, the boy in the wall," she continued, in her bright little way, then suddenly stopped short, peering out the window. "There he is!" Yuri looked too, just in time to see a red handkerchief fly above the high wall. Could it have been a bird?

No. It wasn't.

Darya hopped off her chair and ran for the stairs. "Darya!" Mother had seen it too, and she was angry. Yuri ran for the stairs too, but they didn't seem to want him there, stubbornly creaking and groaning. Mother was right behind him, her grey hair flying.

The house was in a peculiar mood today, thought Yuri. Almost desperate. They heard her feet thud on the third floor landing and the noise of the door open and bang close. But when they got there, the door wouldn't open for them. When they finally forced their way through, the house had let the girl go. The windows at the end of the corridor, the curtains musty from ages of stillness, were open. A chilly draught whipped through the corridor - the smell of wet earth and chill.

The house was Darya's friend, thought Yuri. Mother couldn't control everything.

They watched Darya shin down the drainpipe and land nimbly on the wet grass, barefoot and unprotected from the cold. She didn't seem to mind, though, running over to the wall. She stuck her fingers into the gaps in the mortar and prised out a loose brick, laying it on the ground and peering through the gap.

Who was on the other side? Yuri craned his head to see. A small boy, scarcely older than her, all wrapped up and with his school satchel. This was her 'boy in the wall'. There was an entire world behind the wall that Mother'd been hiding from her.

Why blame Mother alone? He'd been hiding it from her, too.

But it was only to keep her safe. They'd clung to that excuse, but it wouldn't work anymore.

"She should've told me," said Mother, a little sadly. "I'd have given her a scarf. She'll catch her death of cold this way."

They watched Darya laugh and pass the Rubik's Cube to the little boy. Her voice floated up to them. "This is a very tough riddle my brother brought me," they heard her say. "Have you seen it before?" The little boy said something, and she let out a little cry of amazement. "You don't say!" Little laughs on both sides.

"She's old enough for school now, isn't she?" Yuri asked his Mother.

She nodded. "Darya's five already. I'll talk to the teachers tomorrow."

Behind them, the door swung open softly in a long slow sigh.

Spoiler! :

"But Mama, brother just got here-"
I changed 'brother' to 'Yuri' by the suggestion of MorningMist. <3

This story seems a little starved of details, but I intended for it to be that way. Magpies are birds who like stealing shiny things. The magpies in Darya's story prefer money.

And her Mother is a very, very possessive parent.

I hope you liked it!

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152 Reviews

Points: 244
Reviews: 152

Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:21 pm
Niebla wrote a review...

Hey feodora,

My first thought when reading this was that although some small parts could probably use a little tweaking, I absolutely loved the way this is written. The writing really transported me to the place and setting you were describing - and it did seem a little odd, but it all added to the unique feel of the story. It also had quite a distinct element of suspense to it throughout the story - and this is the part where I have to mention the bit I didn't think was so good about the story.

The truth was - although this might just have been me - that I didn't really understand this as clearly by the end of the story as I'd expected to while reading it. I'm not quite sure what the point of the story is. Who is the boy in the wall? What kind of wall is it? Is it just a boy sitting in next door's garden, or something stranger and more unusual than that?

How could she help it? But Mother had her reasons. Before they had moved here, they'd lost their little bird to magpie spirits. That's what they'd had Darya believe, when she asked them why she didn't remember things from some time ago. What she didn't know was that those magpies had a taste for money.

Although I love the way the paragraph above is written, I have to admit that I don't quite understand it in the context of the story. When I read it, I had the feeling that you were leading up to some big conclusion which would explain everything. This paragraph just doesn't quite make sense to me - and again, although I absolutely love the unique feel of the story and the amazing writing, I think the whole story needs clarifying. I know that it can be easy to have an idea in your head and assume that it all makes sense - but to the reader, who is approaching it for the first time, it could be a little confusing if you have missed some of those final clarifying touches.

I have just one more nitpick in this story:

"But Mama, brother just got here-"

I can see that you might have been trying to add to the strange feel of the story with this, but it just sounded a little funny to me. Very few sisters refer to their brothers as "brother". Maybe you could just change that tiny bit?

I think that's all. Other than for the fact that I'm left feeling just a little confused and not completely satisfied - and I think that could easily be cleared up, if you explained within the story a little more and possibly expanded it a bit - I do love the way this is written. You really create images in a really unique way and I love the perspective this is from. This is so real, and the writing style's just amazing. I loved this even if I didn't find it as clear as it perhaps should have been.

Keep writing,


The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.
— Fabienne Fredrickson