The City

A long time ago I wrote a story. It was a little bit about counselling and a little bit about other things. This month, after more than six years of weekly counselling, I have switched to fortnightly sessions. Because while there is still plenty to talk about, it feels like ‘healthy’ is no longer on another continent with shark-infested waters in between. So last night I read my story again and I wondered… if I wrote it again today, how would it end?

It was dark in the City where the Girl lived. She’d seen photos of when she was a very small Girl, photos of herself in a field, but she didn’t remember that place. All she remembered was the City with its narrow streets and tall buildings that completely blocked the sun. There were no other people there; just the Girl and the Dog.

Sometimes the Girl wondered who had built the City. It was so large and the wall around it was so high… why would they build it and then move away? Why did they leave the Girl to take care of it all alone? She wondered this as she carefully repaired the walls of the tall buildings. She wondered it as she painstakingly tended the garden where nothing grew. She wondered it as she checked the City gate, making sure it was secure. She wondered it as she listened to whispers that sounded like the ghosts of those who had built the City. She never saw anyone but she heard their voices constantly. She wondered and wondered but no answers came so she shrugged, picked up the Dog, and returned to her house in the middle of the City.

Of course the Girl didn’t always stay there. She left to visit friends or to walk in the other gardens, gardens where trees grew. She left, but she always carried with her a picture of the City and she looked at it often in secret. She didn’t show it to anyone. No one knew where she lived and she was careful not to be followed as she made her way home. When she was in the City she was as grey as the walls themselves and she didn’t want other people, those bright blue and white people, to see how dingy and dark she was when she took off her colourful coat. She was ashamed of the greyness that she couldn’t hide when she came home to her City.

After a long time, many years, the Girl opened the City gate to let the Helper inside. She didn’t show her the whole City. How could she? Even the Girl didn’t know all the streets. The Helper looked around curiously. She saw the high walls and the tall buildings that blocked the sun. She saw the garden where nothing grew. She listened to the whispers and she understood them as the Girl never had. Finally she spoke.

“If you let me, I can help you tear down the tall buildings. It will take some time and we’ll have to be careful but when we’re finished… then you’ll see the sun.”

She spoke with compassion and hope, but the Girl didn’t hear. She was too busy repairing the walls of the empty buildings and methodically, lovingly, polishing the shiny lock on the City gate.