An Alternative Explanation

Entry by: Alobear

16th March 2017
I thought I knew that part of the city like the back of my hand, but I turned a corner and walked straight into a brick wall that really shouldn’t have been there. For a start, this was my usual shortcut between the office and the station, and had always been an open alleyway before. And regardless, if someone was going to brick up the alley for some reason, surely they would have blocked off the opening level with the rest of the street, not recessed by several feet.

Once I’d recovered from the shock, and from the unexpected nose-flattening, I took a step backwards and regarded the wall in puzzlement. It was solid enough; my face could attest to that. And it extended the full width of the alleyway, also stretching upwards to the same height as the buildings on either side. The bricks even looked scuffed with age, as if the wall had been there many years.

I felt an impact behind me and was catapulted back into the wall, once again proving its solidity. There was curse and a thump, and I turned to see a young man sprawled on the ground at my feet. He looked up at me, and the wall beyond me.

“What the hell?” he demanded.

“Well, quite,” I said, then offered him a hand.

He took it and I heaved him to his feet. He grimaced.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

He arched his back and attempted a smile.

“Just a bit bruised. Where on earth did this wall come from?”

“No idea,” I said. “I literally walked into it just before you walked into me.”

“Sorry about that,” he said.

I shrugged. “Hardly your fault. You had no way of knowing.”

He looked the wall up and down, just as I had done a few moments before. Then he looked back at me.

“I guess that puts paid to my usual shortcut,” he said, with more equanimity than I was feeling.

“Mine, too,” I said, ruefully.

He looked at me in surprise. “You take this route often? Or used to, I should say.”

“Every day,” I told him.

“I’ve never seen you down here before,” he said, “and I’m sure I would have remembered.”

I smiled, taking this as a compliment. Then my frustration at the unexpected obstacle resurfaced.

“Someone must be messing with me somehow - or with you.” I pressed my hand against the wall, but it remained entirely solid. “Though how and why, I have no idea.”

“There’s an alternative explanation,” he ventured, his grin making him look boyishly handsome. “Perhaps the wall conspired to bring us together.”

I considered this.

“Maybe,” I said, suddenly feeling coquettish. “And, in that case, I must offer it my thanks. Do you fancy getting a coffee?”

“I’d love to,” he replied. “After all, we have to figure out another route home.”

“That we do.”

He offered me his arm; I took it and we went back the way we had come, together.