Read Going Over Online

Authors: Beth Kephart

Going Over

BOOK: Going Over
11.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Copyright © 2014 by Beth Kephart.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

ISBN 978-1-4521-3234-1

The Library of Congress has cataloged the previous edition as follows: Kephart, Beth.
Going Over / Beth Kephart.
p. cm.
Summary: In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall—Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.
ISBN 978-1-4521-2457-5 (alk. paper)
1. Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, 1961–1989—Juvenile fiction. 2. Families—Germany—Berlin—Juvenile fiction. 3. Berlin (Germany)—History—1945–1990—Juvenile fiction. [1. Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, 1961–1989—Fiction.
2. Family life—Germany—Fiction. 3. Love—Fiction. 4. Berlin (Germany)—History—1945–1989—Fiction. 5. Germany—History—1945–1990—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.K438We 2014


Design by Jennifer Tolo Pierce.
Typeset in Sabon.

Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street, San Francisco, California 94107

Chronicle Books—we see things differently. Become part of our community at

for Tamra Tuller, who set the story free


We live with ghosts. We live with thugs, dodgers, punkers, needle ladies, pork knuckle. We live where there's no place else to go. We live with birds—a pair of magpies in the old hospital turrets, a fat yellow-beaked grebe in the thick sticks of the plane trees. A man named Sebastien has moved into the Kiez from France. My mother's got an eye on him.

“You've had enough trouble, Jana,” Omi warns her.

Mutti shakes her head, mutters under her breath. Calls her own mother Ilse, like they are sisters, or friends. Like two decades and a war don't divide them. Like sleeping, dreaming, waking, breathing so close has quieted the one to the other.

We live in a forest of box gardens and a city of tile. We live with brick and bullet holes. We live where Marlene Dietrich lived, and the Kaiser and the Reich. We live here, and here is where I have learned what I know, all that I can tell you, including: You can scrub the smell of graffiti out of the air with
vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, lavender, sometimes oil of roses. But you can never scrub the paint off the wall.

“Be careful, Ada.”

Of course I'm careful. I'm in love.

What can I tell you, what should you know? There is a line between us, a wall. It is wide as a river; it has teeth. It is barbed and trenched and tripped and lit and piped and meshed and bricked—155 kilometers of wrong. There are dogs, there are watchtowers, there are men, there are guns, there are blares, but this is West Berlin, the Kreuzberg Kiez, Post Office Sudost 36, and we're free. All of us up and down the Oranienstrasse and the Bethaniendamm, along the Landwehrkanal, beneath the cherry trees, in the run-down Wilhelmines, beside the last stand—all of us here, and the birds, too: We're free.

It's Stefan who I'm worried for. Stefan, on the other side, with his grandmother, Omi's best friend from the war years. In Stefan's Berlin the sky is the factory version of brown, and the air is the stink of boot treads and coal. On the dead-end streets the cars rattle like toys, the Vopos march, the kids wear the same shoes. In the brown velour living rooms with the burgundy rugs, test patterns crunch the TVs.

“Don't exaggerate, Ada,” Mutti says.

I'm not. I've seen. I've known Stefan since I was two years old, loved him since the day I turned twelve. That's three long years of loving Stefan in a city that keeps us apart. Two cities.

If you could see him, you would understand. Stefan is sunflower tall with deep blue eyes and thick, curling hair. He's the strongest apprentice at the Eisfabrik on Köpenicker Strasse, which makes the shoulders of his shirts too small. He knows all the words to Depeche Mode songs and his hands are broad, his fingers thin and truthy. Whenever we go, my Omi and me—to the Friedrichstrasse stop, up the long flight of stairs, past the Vopos and the Vopos' eyes, all the way down to Stefan's place—he takes me out onto his balcony and shows me the world through the eye of his telescope. In the cold, in the rain, in the snow, in the sun, we stand in a city of spies—our grandmothers behind us in the living room, knee to knee, remembering the Russians so that someday, maybe, they'll forget them. Below us, the wall is a zigzag stitch and the river runs divided. The Brandenburg Gate hints gold. The trams shake their tracks. St. Thomas is two towers and a dome, a polished spit of spindle. I press my eye against the cool glass piece. Berlin rises and falls and the wall fogs in. Stefan tips the telescope up—angling toward the stars.

“See?” Stefan will say.

“I see,” I'll answer.

Because no one can stop us from looking.

It would be easier, Mutti says, to love a boy from my own neighborhood. It would be much more convenient. There are so many rules, when you cross, West to East. Rights that you pay for, and not just with marks: They smile at you weird, sniff through your stuff, X-ray their eyeballs straight through you. “What is your business?” they ask you. My business is love. Lopsided love, because the path is one way. You don't get out from the East unless you're somebody special, or they plain don't want you anymore.

But look at Mutti and how she's lived, the opposite of easy. Look at us in this squatters' town, making it but barely. You could say that we're free in SO36, and you could claim that we're the punkiest zip code. Still, things are missing; things haven't been found.

“I want a dad,” I would say when I was a kid. “I want a father; where is he?” I would sit on Mutti's lap, watching her coffee steam. I would pull at her braids with my fingers. She would say, “One day, Ada. One day he'll come.” I was ten before I understood that she was lying.

I wait until it's so black night that the dogs are already lazy with their dreams. I wrap a shirt around my aerosols and my flashlight, my skinnies and my fats, and stuff it all into my sack. I fix a bandana on my face, yank up a hood, pull on a pair of gloves, open the door, close it.
Good night, Mutti
. I walk the long line of hall, then the outside stairs down, past all the other doors of all the other people who make it their business to live here—the carpenters and cooks and Jesus freaks, the hashish entrepreneurs, the old ladies, my best girl friend in the universe, whose name is Arabelle. The courtyard is blue with the late-night TVs. The air is eggplant and sausage. Arabelle's parade of a bike is where Arabelle leaves it—beneath the window box of Timur's flat, where he's growing groves of basil.

BOOK: Going Over
11.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Choosing Waterbirth: Reclaiming the Sacred Power of Birth by Lakshmi Bertram, Sandra Amrita McLanahan, Michel Odent
045147211X by Denise Swanson
Dawn Stewardson by Five Is Enough
Wild Horses by Linda Byler
Hot Touch by Deborah Smith
Scarecrow’s Dream by Flo Fitzpatrick
Here to Stay by Suanne Laqueur
Flinx Transcendent by Alan Dean Foster
Recovery by Alexandrea Weis