How the engineers managed it no-one knew, but there it was: a Wall of Language. It stretched from Thought in the south to the town of Gesture, above the ridge to the northeast. Nothing got through. A holiday was dedicated. People brought offerings when the virgin lights of the Aurora reached the Wall. Only cooked goods: baked pies, chocolates from the store, nothing living. My grandparents made a scrapbook of good news from the paper to remind the Wall how kind they’d been; and they brought bratwurst, a reminder that even if they’d been bad, they’d not been as bad as people on the outside. They hadn’t built the Wall of Language because of bratwurst, though. It was symbolic.
Before the Wall, the holidays were different. People from all round would come and leave their gifts at the Great Weeping Tree in the Field of Commonplaces. We’d put up a trestle and bunting and drink cider and share whatever else we’d brought. Traditional breads. Stories. Ways of life. It was a coming together.
When the Wall went up, my grandparents said, This is the last place. So they paid Town Hall all their money and took chicken-wire and marked out the acre of land they’d bought outside the border. We’ll stay here, they said.
They hadn’t bought the land, of course. A month later, Town Hall began building their Wall at the edge of their land. Eight feet high, completely enclosing, and every brick made of Stillness.