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The War No One Ever Saw
The six Girls jogged across the playground. The Girls weren’t the only female children in their grade, nor were they the ‘popular’ crowd, but they were the largest and most confident group. They reached the large tree that rested at the edge of the kickball circle. The Girls smiled at one another and the world changed.
Each of the Girl’s imagination twisted reality. Suddenly each was a horse. Their game of tag commenced. Sure they could have played their game without carefully selecting the type of horse they wanted. But life would be so much blander with out packing as much imagination as they could into it.
The lanky appaloosa with large, gentle, eyes was ‘It’ first. She set off after the beautiful palomino. The palomino cantered as fast as she could, whinnying periodically. The appaloosa was faster than the palomino, so she caught her fellow mare within minutes. It had been decided that there would be no ‘tag-backs’ before hand, so the appaloosa was safe. The palomino took of after the small quarter horse the color of flame. But the quarter horse, despite being about a head shorter than most of them, was the fastest of the lot. They darted around for a bit, but the palomino was tiring. She slowed to a halt, her flanks rising and falling rapidly. The quarter horse grinned at her, not half as tired as her leader. The palomino shook her head in frustration and selected a new quarry. She wheeled suddenly and struck out after the white horse, who was the slowest. The white horse squealed in surprise and took off as fast as she could, but the palomino caught her easily. She snorted, annoyed and was about to chase down the silver mare when the Warriors arrived.
They were a fairly burly and large group of boys who spent their time playing sports and challenging one another to daredevil actions. In the kid’s world, they were Sparta, rejecting those who could not keep up or teaching them how. The Girl’s tag game came to an abrupt end and they gathered, talking amongst them selves.
“What do they want?” Marie (the appaloosa) anxiously inquired of Skylar (the paint).
Skylar just frowned and shook her head in a non-committal way. Seeking answers Marie turned to Alice (the red mare). She caught Marie’s glance and tilted her head as she spoke in quiet, but quick tones.
“Well they probably want to play some sort of ‘manly’ game that involves inflicting bodily harm upon one another to gain possession of a partially flat ‘pig skin’. “
Skylar snorted with laughter, “Isn’t that kind of hippocraticle for someone loves keep away?”
Alice maintained a calm manner and her reply was cool, “First of all, I think you mean ‘hypocritical‘. Second, no comment.”
“Hippocratical, hyppacritical, what’s the difference? Plus, this is the Kickball Field, so they probably want to play kickball.” Skylar’s face had that expression that implied her intelligence was higher than yours.
“Your right. They are both nonsensical versions of the real word, hypocritical,” Alice paused a moment to smile smugly.
Skylar opened her mouth as if about to make what would have most certainly have been a snide comment when Jane, the palomino, spoke to the Warriors, “Do you guys want something?”
The leader, a blonde boy by the name of Collin, glanced back at his fellows and then addressed Jane, “We want to play kickball.” Skylar nudged Alice who stuck out her tongue in her friend’s direction.
“Well you’ll have to go play somwhere else, we’re playing Horse Tag here.” Jane replied firmly.
Brett stepped forward, “We can’t go play anywhere else. This is the only kickball field, duh!” The Warriors guffawed amongst themselves.
“Well this is the best place to play Horse Tag, duh!” Chelsi (the silver mare) retaliated. The Girls snickered.
As you can imagine the discussion escalated into a full-fledged shouting match, in which everyone yelled a lot and no one knew what anyone was saying. That rolled right into a mild skirmish.
The Monitors, the adults assigned to stop potentially dangerous plots of the kids, so basically fun, eventually noticed and brought it to a halt. Though they did not know it they were to late. Before the Monitors had broken up the fight, the Girls and the Warriors came to an agreement. There would be war during the second recess. The current one would be used to gather troops and draw up battle plans. The Girls would use the Two Trees as their base where as the Warriors would utilize the Pirate Ship.
In all honesty, neither side was overly furious. Though they were definitely upset, the war was more of their way of handling the problem in the most fun way possible than a passionate outbreak of raw fury.
The battleground was comprised of approximately three levels; the lowest held the concrete amphitheater- part of the complicated parkour route to the highest level of the battleground. Kids used it to test their stamina and agility on a regular basis. Beside that there was also the largest play structure, a basketball court, a tetherball court, the Orange Slide and the base the Girls traditionally used, the Two Trees.
The next level was really the sports level (commonly referred to as the Field). The soccer/football field was up there and the kickball field. Every summer the school stubbornly tried to grow grass on the kickball field. But every year it was as dusty and lifeless as before. On the edge of the Field, was a rather large tree that persisted to grow in the dusty terrain, and someone’s fence. On the other side was someone’s side yard. The final level was the small grass ledge that overlooked the middle level and a sandy alcove. The alcove housed the swings and the Pirate Ship.
Fuming, the Girls gathered at the Two trees. The Girls were the core of a grater empire. Each had allies that weren’t exactly part of the group, but that they could call on in a time of need; which they planned to do now. Jane raised a hand and quieted them. She cleared her throat before addressing them, “Well I guess we should get started. Everyone split up and-“
“We can’t split up!”
Jane eyed the one the interrupter, Skylar, “Why not?”
“Well, you don’t trust them, do you?” Skylar looked at her fellows and they nodded, “Then how do we know they won’t attack us while we’re alone?”
Chelsi voiced her view of the situation, “Why don’t we just go in groups?”
Chloe, the white mare, cut down her idea, “That will take too long!”
“Well then lets send some people to attack the boys and keep them occupied!” Chelsie countered.
“NO!” Marie burst out, “We can’t attack them. That would be cheating!”
“Plus that would still take way too long.” Alice said.
It was Chloe, who voice the solution, “Then lets just use the invisibility potion.”
The Girls agree this was the best plan and Jane set about telling everyone what to do. Soon the ingredients were gathered. They said the magic spell and everyone rubbed some of the potion (mainly fallen leaves) on their torsos. The invisibility potion would allow them to be seen by their friends only.
So they split up. Alice raced up to the Pirate Ship. As she neared the top she called out, “Hey Clark!”
A boy of medium height turned and smiled, “Hi Alice.”
She came to a stop at the edge of the sand, panting slightly, she relayed the issue with the Warriors and requested his help.
“Sure I’ll help you guys” he replied.
Alice smiled and inquired, “Would you mind recruiting other kids too?”
Clark’s smile faded slightly, “Nah, I’m kinda playing tag up here.”
She projected what she hoped was a reassuring smile and said, “Ok.”
Alice nodded in farewell and ran towards the large play structure in level three. She had seen Justin around there earlier. Justin was a first grader, but because of how his and Alice’s first and second grade classes were mixed they saw a lot of each other and were great friends. He was climbing up the green slide when she dashed up. He heard her coming and turned to look at her. Justin’s face split into a wide grin and her expression warmed too.
“Hello Alice” He leapt down from his high perch, no doubt trying to act debonair and brave. Instead his legs buckled and he fell backwards. Alice darted forward and crouched beside her friend. “Y’all right?”
Despite the bruising to his pride, Justin replied with a proud smile, “I’m fine.”
She helped him to his feet. He quirked his eye brow as he dusted himself off, “So do what do you want?”
“Well, the Warriors….” Alice proceeded to explain. Justin watched her intently, nodding his head at the appropriate times. “…So yeah I just wanted to know if you would mind helping me- us- with the battle this afternoon.” She finished
Justin nodded, “Sure, I’d love to help.”
Alice beamed, “Would you mind-“ That was when the Monitors blew the whistle to signal the end of Morning Recess. “Never-mind.” The two of them chatted about battle plans while they lined up at the edge of the amphitheater to go inside….
The tension was palpable as the children gathered for second recess. The Girls were just below the field, the Warriors on the ridge above. The Girls had the advantage of numbers, the Warriors strength. Almost every kid spent his or her recess playing intense games (hunted down prey, ran for their ‘lives’, defended their various clans or lands, or did daredevil acts to prove themselves). The Warriors did the hardest of the games and were hardier than most of the other children.
Nerves twanged as the kids stood tense, ready to attack. It was never clear who initiated the battle. Nor was how loud it was. The word could have been whispered and still created the response it did.
The earth thundered beneath the children’s feet. The sound rose to a climax, fueled by every battle cry that joined the call. It evolved into a tumultuous roar just as the snarling combatants reached one another. After a light bruising, Alice, Marie, and Chloe retreated to the Two Trees, where they played hospital. When a fighter was tired or just wanted a break, he or she would pretend to fall. Then, if they were on the Girl’s side, Alice and her partner would haul them back to the Two Trees. There the kids would rest and Alice would fend off anyone who tried to hurt them. When the ‘wounded’ child was feeling better, he or she would launch back into battle.
After about 15 minutes of battle, the Monitors noticed the spectacle taking place on the Field. As they came into view a moment of silence descended.
“RUN!” The scream cut the air like a knife, shattering the relative calm. The former combatants fled in a stampeding pandemonium, thoughts of conflict thrown to the winds. Justin sprinted up to Alice and the two ran up the hill to the Pirate Ship, dodging other children. They cleared the bench at the edge of that part of the third level, hearts pounding. The two clambered over the edge of the Pirate Ship, their speed fueled by their terror and adrenaline. Then they were safe, dragging air into their lungs, exhausted from their sprint and fighting, sitting in a dark corner of the Pirate Ship. There they waited. Eventually, Alice peaked out to see if any monitors were nigh.
There was one close, but they were neither paying attention nor looking in their direction. She signaled to Justin and the two dashed down to the tetherball courts.
By the time a Monitor showed up, it looked like they had been playing tetherball all recess…
Before the end of recess, the Monitors had wrangled Jane and Collin. They were forced to hear a very long lecture and undergo a thorough chastising. Jane and Collin emerged grumbling to one another about how interfering the Monitors were.
The next day the mares were once again playing by the tree. The Warriors played tackle football nearby. The anger both sides had harbored towards one another was gone. Later the Girls and the Warriors played soccer together companionably if a little competitively. Relative peace had again settled over the playground.