It was a brisk autumn afternoon. The sky was cold and clear, save for a few clouds drifting lazily towards the horizon. Wrapped in a coat and scarf, a man stood watching them float by.
His name wasn't Prussia. It was German Democratic Republic, as he would be quick to point out if you happened to call him "East Germany". Although he had been using that name for a few years now, it still sat awkwardly on his tongue. Nevertheless, he'd hold his chin up and introduce himself with it as though he had always called himself that.
Today, however, he was in an introspective mood. He had left his apartment block - a row of identical gray concrete boxes, each as charmless as the next - and taken a walk towards the center of the city, taking slow, deep breaths. The air was cold and stung his nose, and he tightened his scarf a bit more snugly around his face.
After a long time wandering aimlessly, he arrived at The Wall. It stood there in front of him imperiously, a length of concrete that clearly stated "keep out".
Above him, the sky was clear. He watched the clouds drift right over the barbed wire and to the West. Something inside him weighed heavily today. If you asked him what was on his mind, he might have made a lame remark about the weather, or complained about the cold. But what he was really thinking about was freedom.
Clouds didn't know boundaries. Clouds were free, and the sky over Berlin was the same color on either side of the Wall.
He didn't think about freedom much, or at least he tried not to. After so long living as a new nation under new rules, it seemed almost pointless, not to mention dangerous. But still, he remembered his days of glory, riding on galloping horses across the plains as he conquered vast stretches of land...
He looked around him for signs of life. There was nobody immediately visible. He touched the wall with one gloved hand.
Under his fingers, it felt mysteriously contradictory. Cold and dead, yet vibrating and alive with promise. Behind me, it seemed to whisper, you can be free, too.
GDR wasn't stupid. He knew behind the wall was a so-called "Death Strip" 100 meters across, and that there were armed sentries positioned all along the length, with instructions to shoot any trespassers on sight. He also knew - felt - his citizens who had died in their failed attempts to escape. It was foolish to think anything good could come out of this.
But the call was strong. He hadn't felt the urge in a long while. Food shortages and economic woes slithered across his thoughts. His hands clenched against the concrete, his feet tensed and his spine tingled as vivid memories washed down on him. It wasn't right. He wasn't allowed to think about these things. But if he didn't, who was he betraying if not himself?
He glanced around again. Nobody. It was madness, and yet...
He took several steps back, and stared back at the wall. He inhaled and exhaled deeply, then loosened his scarf and unbuttoned his coat, removed them and dropped them unceremoniously on the ground. He bit his lip and counted to three in his head. Then he sprinted.
The balls of his feet crashed against the wall and he bounced into it with vigour. His hands reached up and grabbed the top of the wall, and kicking himself up he hoisted himself over. Before he had the time to reconsider and decide this was a tremendously bad idea after all, he had fallen over the other side and landed in the dirt with a thud.
A surge of adrenaline seized him, and although his hips were aching from the impact, he leapt to his feet and ran. The air was no longer cold. The wind whipped around him sharply, and he began to laugh. His heart raced and he ran fast, laughing, laughing...
There was the loud crack of a gunshot.
He was still laughing as he fell,
five meters away from freedom.