Billy tried to see the end of the line but it was useless, it seemed to go on forever. He’s been standing here for almost an hour and the line has barely moved. He thought about getting out of line to walk ahead and see how much further it was. But when he looked behind him, he couldn’t see the end either, and he knew that if he left the line, he would have to go to the back and wait even longer. He could just imagine how upset his mother would be if he came home and told her that he got tired of waiting, and left the line.
“Billy,” she said as he was leaving this morning, “I wish that your father were here to see you heading off to wait in line, he would really be proud.”
Billy always knew that when he turned sixteen, people would expect him to go wait in line, but it always seemed so far in the future that he didn’t really think about it. On his sixteenth birthday last month, his mother gave him a pair of walking shoes and said, “I’m not trying to push you Billy, but if you decide to go to the line these shoes will be perfect.”
“Thanks Mom,” he said, “of course I’ll be going to the line, I just have a few things to do first to make sure I’m ready.”
Everyone had to make their own choice; you didn’t have to wait in line if you didn’t want to. His older brother Charlie never went to the line. When Billy asked him why, Charlie said, “Billy, I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told everyone, the line wasn’t for me. I thought about going and almost convinced myself that I should, but when it came down to it, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s been hard these past few years, looking in people’s eyes and knowing what they were thinking about me. But, I’m happy with my choice, because instead of saying that I tried and failed, I can say that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I just didn’t go.” The look of sadness in his eyes, as he told Billy this, made him realize that he regretted his choice, and Billy knew that he had to try.
You could only go to the line when you were sixteen, not the year before or the year after. The majority of Billy’s friends always talked about how excited they were about going, but as they got closer to sixteen, they said less about it. Billy never asked anyone if they planned to go, probably because he knew that then they would ask him, and he didn’t want to think about it. He wished there was someone to ask what happened when you reached the end of the line, but no one would say anything about it. The ones that made it to the end would always say, “You just have to experience it yourself, there’s nothing I can tell you that would make you understand.”
So, he’s waiting in line, he can see a huge wall at the end. As he gets closer, more kids are leaving the line, walking away with their heads down, talking to themselves.
It’s been nine hours and he’s finally at the front of the line, there’s only one kid in front of him now, and the boy turns around and says, “I forgot to do something, I’ve got to…” then walks away, mumbling and shaking his head. So, it’s Billy’s turn. He’s standing at the brick wall and there’s a small red door in front of him. It takes every ounce of courage he has to grab the worn, silver handle and pull. He’s shaking so badly that he can barely walk through the door as it opens, but he does.
What happens next? If you ask Billy, he’ll say, “you just have to experience it yourself, there’s nothing I can tell you that would make you understand.”
So, what do you think happens at the end of the line?