Half dry mud caked my new jeans in spattered globs, and sweat matted my bangs to my face. Weeds crunched under flat soled converse and the arches of my feet stung unbearably. These shoes were’t made for sprinting. But I had to keep running. And I had to run faster.
We were running from the barbarians, and running at them simultaneously. They had resources we needed to survive, but stealing them would be a diffifcult task. To steal you had to enter their territory, dodge all their soldiers, and capture their supplies. The dangerous part was that each and every one of them had a poisonous touch. If even their fingertips grazed your shirt, you were dead. Luckily most of them weren’t too quick on their feet.
Likewise, they were tasked to steal our resources as well, but that was for our guards to worry about.
It was a game of death but if we didn’t play, we would die.
My only purpose as the sprinter was to take advantage of the distraction my fellow runners had created for me. I only had a time slot of a few seconds but I had to make it work. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a spare soldier who wasn’t sucked into the distraction, hurtling at me. But he wasn’t even looking at where he was going. Too easy to dodge.
I had been running for so long. My throat was raw and my lungs felt cold and ripped to shreds. A drum pounded in the cages of my ribs. But I was so close. There were ten yards. Nine. I eyed the baskets of food and ammunition that would soon be ours. Five. Three. A figure dove out from behind me. One. A stranger’s hand slapped my back. But it was too late. Some sort of supersonic explosion had erupted from all points on the grassy soccer field. The flag was in my hand. We had won.
In an elementary schooler’s mind, every game was a win or die trying. Capture the flag was the ultimate challenge. To win meant survival on the playground.