Copper

After the woman flung a jewel over the copper wall, she then struck that wall, recoiling shortly after with a very painful fist, after which two questions arose. The asker of these questions can be me, or you, or perhaps even the woman herself, but the mystery of this woman and her actions must yet be solved, can be solved in two questions. “Why strike the wall?” and “Why is the wall made of copper?”

One, and not of unequal importance to the next, because we are interested in the woman and she would enjoy the permittance of recollecting her thoughts. Two, because a wall is normally not made of copper, as it is constructed with the purpose to keep safe, and surely there are sturdier materials to use, such as iron or stone, both nature’s gifts to a mankind undeserving. The woman, forming a fist around her other fist to lessen the pain in a gesture of irony, also takes a deep breath. This isn’t fair, she thought. Hounded by events that transpired minutes ago and will become the present again soon, for the past is a slow ghost that chucks stones at us while we swim through time, she takes a step back.

I am very ill, I appoint you as my successor, coughs a young man more than he speaks, and she swears on the lives of more vitally stable family members that it is not sputum but chunks of metal leaving his mouth. No wonder, then, that these words should hit so hard and heavy. She had made it very clear through her rebellious life up to this fateful moment, leadership is not for her, and everyone in the village would agree were they present, but seeing as this is a deeply private conversation, we shouldn’t be here either, shhh, it is but a grim exchange between a man and an adult but unmatured woman. (Immature is such an ugly word).

Alas, the line that blood follows, or bloodline, can be used as a noose for certain families. The recalcitrant woman, Joanna, which means ‘After Joan’, to explain some naming conventions that do not exist anywhere else, Joan being her older brother, now dying before her eyes, seconds draining from his face, he shakes and clasps a jewel into her own trembling hands, a false symbol of authority. Her rebellion has been one of inaction. There are indeed the active and dangerous revolt, and the slothful erosure of duty and responsibility. Though the latter has been effective, because of it, I’m so sorry Joanna, she holds no influence or sufficient agency to escape this imposition, and in defeat not seen since Napoleonic days, she runs outside towards the copper wall that has ended the sea.

Why are you made of copper, Joanna asks the wall but also herself, as it is a malleable metal incapable of taking on too many burdens. Because copper cannot rust, answers the wall, no just kidding, it does not!, but regardless of who answered, it is a solid answer. The wall disappears from an inland weeks away into a watery horizon no amount of deaths can justify reaching, dividing presumably water on the other side, as men and beast can take down walls, so copper was used by the builders of yore as water cannot destroy what it cannot waste away. A frightening psychological approach to environmental disaster, though there is still water on Joanna’s side, but luckily that ocean is stilled and tamed, the sun is glowing inside of the azure.

What lies beyond, Danger, it has been yelled by mongers and whispered by meek, but the message, Danger lies beyond, has remained the same for how long now, probably centuries, at least fifty years before I was born, and Her Copper Grace, benevolent by proxy, protects us from that abstract. Language instills fear through its vagaries, how can we envision what is left undescribed, how political, and so what shields our minds from what our minds use to fill up that empty space? How do we not break down when we break ourselves down, like barriers, like walls, like a turquoise copper wall. Joanna recoils again.

The blue spot where Joanna punched her pent-up frustrations in has crumbled to the beach, discomfort fills her like the sand in her sandals. A wave from the sea on her side soaks her feet, relieving her beachy intruders, replacing them with panic. The water retreats, cackling as if a jackal, a predator known to mark its prey, and Joanna drives into the wall again, this time her back to it, covering the hole as to prevent anyone from seeing it, even though there is nobody here, we have seen it, shhh, she herself does not want to look upon it. Hours pass, probably, before she recollects herself. Her raiments, as blue as the wall and like the skin of a toxic animal, vibrant in colour to ward off danger, stick slightly and take a moment to release, clinging to that familiar border, like the knights from longlost myths did, on the other side, as a last line of defence against monstrosities again left undescribed.

What were they even defending, Joanna wondered, and was reminded of later amendments to the story where the wall still had a gate and the knights, duty-bound to protect the weak, ensured the safety of the smallfolk as they fled detailless dangers, now double in number. Was there land, then, or have we all descended from fish to be confined to land, the editing invokes curiosity and a want for quality assurance. She holds her hands in scared prayer and notices, because they were also planted against the turquoise guardian, that they have become dyed with the outer layer, the epidermis, the dead skin of a legend; a toxic blue.

Sick from anxiety and already coughing quite a lot, as she covers her mouth with her hand, witnessing the colour draining into the rest of her body. She turns around, not out of volition, but out of reflex, as something taps her shoulder, her back is still facing the wall. An arm, just as normal and nonthreatening as her own arm a few moments ago, stretching out from the hole, its owner obstructed from view, perhaps for the best, holding a familiar jewel. Is this yours, carries a voice. Before she can respond, before even beginning to claim her actions, she coughs again. She feels something hard and heavy hit against the palm still covering her mouth. It is a chunk of metal.

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