For Alice and Beatrice, who will soon learn how to read.

Just before the barrier or maybe just after the barrier, there is a group of houses. They are in the mountains and in the mountains the trace of the border is lost. Everybody knows is circa there. Everybody can say that the mountain before is one reign and the mountain after is another reign but this one place in the middle, this one place in the middle nobody knows about. At some point, between the trees the barrier is, without even noticing one can go from one place to the other and not know. The light does not change, the air does not change, the body of the travellers does not shake with excitement.

There is one traveller, he is a young boy, he has a heavy bag on his shoulder. His journey started many months ago, so many that the pants he put on when he left home now are too short and leave his ankles bare. When he left home, all his friends and family gave him something to bring on the journey, a notebook to write and remember everything, a mantel to keep warm, toothpaste and deodorant to always smell good and so many snacks and so many blankets and his best friend gave him one special lucky charm with a sun on it. He has kept everything so dear, had the food that reminded him of home only on the very dark and very cold nights, folded the blankets slowly every morning, used just the right amount of toothpaste and deodorant, he has written all the important things on the notebook and he treated the mantel so well.

But there have been so many cold and dark nights, there have been so many rushed morning running from all kinds of monsters, there have been so many names to write down and so many phrases in so many languages to remember and so many branches for the jacket to get trapped in. So now the bag on his shoulder is a bit emptier of snacks and a lot messier and now he has to cross these mountains.

These mountains stand tall. He has heard stories about the mountains, before he had ever seen them. Other travellers told him. There is one man, they speak the same language, they met before they crossed the sea and they sat next to each other in the dark night in the middle of the sea, while the waves rocked the vessel. The man is travelling to meet his lover, he told him. They will meet in a city full of lights and they will go dance and they will hug so tight. The young traveller told him he has to go meet his dad.

The man told him about the barrier, he told him that the mountains were there before the barrier was. The barrier, the man said, moved around so many times, the reigns shrinked and widened while wars never ended, the barrier moved past the mountains and then got back. Then peace was made and the barrier has now been still for a while. Many, the man said, cross the barrier now and even more crossed the barrier before: to escape from one side to another, from the other to the first.

When they get there, the two men go to the mountain where the barrier should be, even if we do not really know exactly where. The path is slippery and the soles of the shoes sometimes do not hold them. It’s getting dark and they have heard of the houses and they plan on sleeping there. From outside, the houses look empty, but when they get inside they find traces of passage. The walls are covered in writing, names, homecountries and slogans and dates. The houses are bare except for one bed but the floor is covered, they recognize deodorants and toothpastes with languages they had never heard, and they see blankets not too different from the ones the young man has with him. Someone even hung a mantel t with a nail in one room. The young man does not understand why someone would leave everything there and asks his companion. “It’s also to not look like a traveller, to hide the traces of the passage, so that the guards on the other side don’t check you”.

“How are we going to not be checked?”, he is thinking about finally getting to his dad.

“We will try tomorrow morning”.

The morning after, the man empties a lot of his bag in the houses. The young traveller feels like he cannot, the blankets, the notebook, the jacket. He thinks of everybody who got him something. He folds everything one last time, and leaves the mantel on the nail. He keeps the charm and the notebook, hidden under his clothes.

Then they try, they start walking up the mountain and they wonder if they have passed the barrier and they know they won’t see it and that their bodies won’t know when they cross and they also know the man’s lover is on the other side and the young traveller’s dad is on the other side. They are wondering, they are trying to see if anything will change when they hear the sound of boots on the ground and the man says “Guards” and now they know they are on the other side and the young traveller runs, so so fast, back to the houses and he holds the charm and he waits hours for the man to come back but he does not. The night comes and he falls into a nervous sleep. He waits a day, then another. Maybe the man will come back. The food he had is finishing.

People come and go from the houses and they ask why he does not leave, he says he is waiting for a friend. The others nod, they tell their own stories about guards and running and lost friends, some tell of beatings, of nights in prison.

A week has gone by, the food is finished and a group is passing the barrier the day after, he will go. Maybe the man made it and he is dancing in Paris. Writing on the walls read:”The sky is for everyone”.