November 30, 2008

I stood against the stucco wall, breathing heavily, too anxious to move. I heard the front door click open. A stealthy, dark figure stepped out, accompanied by a small shadow who I could not have mistaken. Then the light from the inside illuminated the two seekers’ faces. Yes, it was them indeed, and they were intent on catching me before I slipped away yet again.

Okay, so maybe that was a little dramatic, but I was deeply passionate about winning. The game was hide and seek, but with a few twists. It took place in the total darkness of night, and one could hide anywhere between the house’s backyard and the front sidewalk. This gave me many options since I was nominated by my cousin, Isabel, and my brother, Jay, to be the sole hider while they teamed up as the seekers.

I had invented this version of the popular hiding game purely for my own benefit. My cousin was over for the weekend and my parents assigned me the job of entertaining the bouncing ball of energy. I knew something had to be dreamt up that was both entertaining for her and myself, so, with that challenge, Extreme Hide and Seek was born.

As I scrunched up as close as I could against the garage wall, a plan of escape began to form in my thoughts. The seconds in my head ticked off; I knew that the team would soon be on my frantically-taken trail. I advanced across the driveway, still hugging the front of my house.

When I realized my odd situation, you know, participating in a game that involved purposely ditching my blood relatives, my mind switched from competitive mode to guilty-cousin mode. I really shouldn’t be hiding from Isabel for her whole stay, should I, even if it is just for a simple game? My decision was just about made to locate the wandering seekers and suggest a more age appropriate game, like dominos or paint-by-number, when I heard her familiar laugh escape from somewhere in the front yard. Panic shot through me. I was in the front yard! A deeper voice, which I identified as my brother Jay’s, shushed her excitement so promptly that I had to question myself if I really had overheard her giggle.

Unlike what most loving family members would do, I knew that Jay was not going to be slowed down by Isabel just to allow her to feel successful. Winning was his only option to withdraw back to his computer; losing for him would mean a direct path to round two. Time was against me; it was necessary that I moved fast.

All I had to do was make it to the front door without being detected and I would have a clear shot to the inside base. The only weakness in my plan was the dogs. The second I neared the front door, two excitedly-noisy and wiggling guards would surely alert the seekers of my position. A silent victory was going to be tough.

Not understanding exactly how I managed to avoid detection from Jay and Isabel, I conquered the rest of the driveway and made it to the front window of my house. The light from the inside guided me out of the permanent shadow of night to the front door like a lighthouse beacons to a vessel lost at sea.

My shaking hand carefully approached the door and turned the doorknob ever so slightly, all the while my ears were listening for the defeating sound of barking. Not hearing anything so far, I continued to press my luck until the door popped open and I managed to stumble inside.

Yes! The dogs hadn’t heard me! I had won the game without even confronting Isabel and Jay! During my little victory dance, my peripheral vision noticed something out of place to the left. My head jerked in that direction, and then I spotted her. She sat there, as still as if someone was painting her portrait, calmly watching me. Her face sported the crooked, half-smile that I was all too familiar with.

Defeat swept through me as I realized Isabel had known all along that I would end up here and she had come to tag me before I reached base. Sometime between when I heard her laughter and when I reached the front door she must have slipped inside through the side door. Why did I ever feel guilty? Isabel was having a blast, and in the end she beat me.

“Gotcha.” she announced, not a decibel above a whisper. She didn’t even have to jump up to tag me, I knew the game was over and I gave up unhesitatingly.

That night, I came to a realization; I had made a huge mistake. I had underestimated the creative and knieving mind of a 10 year old. Isabel’s victory will not soon be forgotten because, to this very day, she has not stopped retelling how well she had tricked me. Her excitement has made me notice that the seemingly insignificant things of my everyday life are actually extremely significant in someone else’s, in this case Isabel’s. That one quick game I played with her meant the world to her, especially since she had won, and I would like to believe that, when she is older, she will remember all the brief yet valuable moments that brought us closer together.

This will certify that the above work is completely original Elizabeth Brooks

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