The Walls Fall Down
An exciting adventurer in Ba Sing Se
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Some people are going about their ordinary life in Ba Sing Se before Zaheer kills the Earth Queen.


"Close the windows," said Jiaying, and they did, but light filtered through the paper screen anyway, and dappled the tatami floor. It covered them with a gilded outline, a mottled coat which shifted evanescently in the fading daylight.

"It won't do any good anyway," said her brother, "Nothing does any good, but we can't let that stop us."

"Yes," said Gan, "we are the vanguard of a new era."

"The current political system is outdated. And what is outdated must be discarded."

"Down with the Earth Queen!"

They spoke in daring spurts, almost tremulously, like children, half-expecting the Dai Li to suddenly appear, to become martyrs, but nothing happened, and they grew bolder, flying upwards on the wings of heroic sentiment.

It was always talk like that. About ideals; platonic forms; truth, liberty, justice, things which may or may not exist, and Jiaying thought, did not exist, nothing good really existed. There was only life, which went on and on and on despite everything you believed in.

"Enough politics," she said when they were finished, "Let's go for a walk."

Jianguo sighed and rose from the table. He tried to catch his sister's eye, ask what it was she did not understand. Everything was politics. Again a walk in the garden! He hated their garden. His eyes were fixed on the stone wall which contained them, which boxed the flowering azalea, like a giant ceramic pot, and felt an impotent rage wash over him. Beyond all this...well  he knew, there was a world of wilted plants, cold dirty streets.... But no, he refused to accept it, why not imagine flowers planted free, in the wild, with no pots, and no constraints, how it would grow... Ah, these flowers, they were always the same. His own garden. Why did she bring them here? It was cold outside anyway.

She was extremely beautiful, thought Gan, as she walked cloaked in the evening twilight. The falling heavens wrapped around her, the dusk crowned her midnight hair. That was good, he thought. Very poetic. He smiled to himself, thinking how he would write that down and show it to her someday, when they were married, and smiled with contentment.

But, he thought severely, what of the starving children in the lower ring? No, you cannot be happy, not while there is such suffering, such pain, despair! And...he remembered suddenly what he had just thought, married? He was insane.

But he could not help but look at her, as she walked with small dignified steps, somehow looking mournful amidst the beauty, amidst the joyful flowering blossoms. "Look," he said, pointing to a flower falling in the wind, but it was something else he wanted to show her, look, he was thinking instead, at me.

He was always trying to talk to her, to draw her out. She wondered why he wanted to. He was always dreaming of ideals, like her brother was, thinking of the poor starving children, of great lofty things, things which she could never be. If he looked closer at her, he would see it, he would know.

It was nice to be outside, Jianguo thought, after all, in this lovely fresh air which stretched out forever, into the sky which lasted forever. And the walls seemed to fade and only the great world existed, great, boundless, disappearing into infinity. You could walk forever in this world. He wanted to go, suddenly, just leave, walk and walk and never come back. Yes, why not!

He stared at Gan and his sister. And what about them? Well, who cared about them anyway, he thought superciliously, and he was seized by an overwhelming desire to be alone, to walk into the streets and never come back. I will, he thought, I'll do it. Fuck the institution!

"Oh, I just remembered..." he said lamely, "I told Li I'd bring him my notes."

And Gan said quickly, "Go on then, we'll be fine."

He would be alone with her, he thought, and then...then? Jianguo soon left. They were alone, but they were silent, a strange barrier stood between them, why couldn't he speak? Why couldn't he act?

Jianguo walked through the streets, swinging his arms. There was the faint sound of a radio playing; he hummed along merrily. I'll go wherever I want, he thought exuberantly, wherever I desire. The Earth Queen can't hold me. Can't tell me what to do! And he thought of the garden of flowers which existed outside the city.

The music had stopped playing; there was a voice. Jianguo caught the trailing words,

"....revolutionaries... "


His breath caught in his throat. He stood still and listened.

"...from now on you are free!"

Suddenly not know what he was doing he ran, ran to the wall, nearly falling as the ground shook and the wall was falling, melting, gone, they were free!

"Hahaha..!" he cried helplessly, smiling, staring up past the wall into the void, into the darkness, to a new blossoming future, and he was running again, running who knows where, but going somewhere, he had to!

He found himself outside his house. He laughed at it, this old house. Everything was different now.

"What's going on?" asked Jiaying.

"The Revolution!" he cried, pausing breathlessly, his face shining.

"People are coming into our house!"

"Let them!"

He laughed. Everything seemed light, there was a strange spirit in the air, everything was filled with a wild, drunken exuberance. The crowd was shouting, pushing, looking for money.

"Let them!" he cried, and with a wild sweeping movement pushed a pot of flowers to the ground, pieces breaking, pale stem uprooted, exposed.

Gan was watching Jiaying, her pale face frozen, uncertain; and suddenly he reached in across and grabbed her hands.

"Oh!" she said, and leaving the broken pot in the garden they went outside into the chaotic carnivalesque streets and he kissed her beneath the lapping torchlight.

But, she thought, thinking of the pot, we'll have to pick up the pieces tomorrow.

Author's Notes

This is my first time publishing on this site. I hope it is okay. I'm not used to writing such short one-shots so it was a good challenge for me!

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For the collective works of the author, go here.

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