The Fort

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Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when you’re frantically trying to think of a clever reply or itching to talk to the ‘bless her heart’ beautiful girl at school? Then minutes or even seconds later, the words smack you like a slap across your face that leaves your skin tingling and burning to the touch. Of course, just like everyone else that’s been in this situation, you kick yourself for not thinking of your witty remark right then. I would usually agree with this, but unbelievably so, there was one such time that I wished I would’ve thought just a little more before I spoke.

“You sure you guys can find something to do while I’m gone?” asked Chase’s mom.

“Yeah, what are we going to do?” Nathan added.

“Ah! I got plenty of things we can do,” Chase replied fiddling with the same toy that had mesmerized him for the last ten minutes.

“Alright, well before you get any ideas, we can’t do anything at my house because my parents aren’t home and my aunt and uncle are taking care of us,” I included.

“Okay, I’ll be back in an hour or two,” said Chase’s mom as she walked out the door.

“Ah ha, let’s go to the Fort,” Chase decided excitedly. I smiled remembering the times I had been there and quickly got up ready to embark on our next adventure.

“What’s that?” Nathan wondered incredulously.

“Come on! We’ll show you,” Chase said grabbing a water bottle and bolting out the door.

Seconds later we were passing by my house and rapidly approaching the three-foot cinderblock wall topped with wrought iron bars that guarded the entrance to our neighborhood fort. Carefully we climbed the fence, lifting our legs delicately over the iron bars so as not to get caught. Once our feet hit the ground, we raced like mad men nearly tumbling and falling on the layers of shifting river rocks in between us and the prize, which was the fort.

Chase and I felt like kings as we excitedly showed Nathan the wonders we spent hour after hour creating. Before our eyes, branches were precisely placed to create walls and roofs, while others were bent and twisted resembling odd-shaped chairs and furnishings. Inside our incredible dwelling, we had areas where we stored all our cool discoveries and the amazing creations we accomplished regularly.

After giving Nathan a “royal tour” we enthusiastically began erecting a fort for him as well. It too sported neatly stacked branches and sturdy rock walls separating it from ours. Minute after minute, our wondrous creation grew and the sight of our accomplishments filled us with confidence and bravado. Astonishingly enough, a yell echoed across the landscape like a battle cry as we finished Nathan’s fort.
“Aaaarghh!” rang the deafening sound from the opposite side of the wall. Without thinking, I immediately repeated the cry, waiting for a response. It came back quickly and harshly, along with two new voices spouting words so profane that I dare not repeat them. The raucous shouting elevated and the voices got closer. They then stopped, and the only sound was the cinderblocks shifting in the wall and the scrape of tennis shoes pushing against them.
My breath was shallow and quick, and my heart pumped faster than the vibration of an air compressor. Despite how blurred my thoughts at that point were, I left my post and sprinted for the exit. With no control whatsoever, I ran through the layers of shifting river rocks just as a raft would while going down perilously rough rapids. I could see Chase and Nathan fatefully traversing down the same path with great difficulty, closely followed by three teenagers holding skateboards. We were nearing the exit and I jumped, grabbing those rough, rusted iron bars, and carelessly threw myself over, tearing my pants in the process. As my feet hit the ground, Chase’s were flying over the fence. We both bolted down the street to my house, turning back for less than a millisecond to witness Nathan’s narrow escape as he hopped over the fence with several hands inches from his back.
“Run, guys! Quick! I left the garage door open!” I yelled frantically. It was our only chance, but Nathan’s face was flushed bright pink and his stride slowed. The sound of skateboards hitting the cement slowed our thoughts, and each time they bounced, slamming the ground again, my pulse quickened. Our three pursuers were over the fence and the gap between us had all but evaporated. Somehow, Nathan caught up with Chase and me as we pounded up the driveway to my house and quickly faded into the shadow of my garage, listening to it creak shut like a drawbridge locking out everything on the other side.

Being too terrified to stay in the garage we quickly went inside. As we walked down the hallway in my house there was no helping the recurring urge to look over our shoulders. Finally, we found my uncle and told him about our hazardous escape from the three skaters. For a long time after that, the Fort just wasn’t the same. We wanted to go back and experience the wild side of life again, but this memory still haunted us. Even though we could have easily jumped over those iron bars and back into our old refuge, our perilous escape left only fearful thoughts of the once great Fort.





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