Reach, Clench, and Pull

Reach, Clench, and Pull “This is the final round today ladies and gents’!” The PE teacher yells to get our attention and blows his whistle.

He looks like a dog trainer with his dark green polo shirt and light tan khakis. But the new shiny silver whistle around his neck brings the whole outfit together. We obediently start to head back to our side of the gym to get ready for our last game of capture the flag. Capture the flag is one of my favorite games in gym class; I love the energy and competitiveness that sprouts from everyone when we try to outsmart the other team with tricks, taunts, and tactics to pull their waist flags and capture their team flag. But this wasn’t no ordinary game of capture the flag.

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This was Freshmen vs. Seniors and I am a freshmen. Basically, the professional name for “fresh meat.” So far we’ve lost every game we’ve played against them and it’s not a surprise to me. The seniors are huge and scary creatures that run the school; they have survived the hell that high school brings and they’re ready to get out as soon as possible. Yet gym is one of the classes where they are willing to fully participate.

They know they can dominate us in any sport or activity we play against each other because they have become masters in this class; they are almost considered legends. So how can I, a freshmen, a mere piece of meat, beat a group of legendary savages at their own game? I walk to the end of our side of the gym and stand next to Kaylee. Kaylee and I just recently got to know each other this year and she is a lot like me: a try hard. The whistle rips the air and shatters in our ears. The game has begun. We walk towards the center of the gym to meet our inspiration, our enemies.

In this version of capture the flag, you are able to get your flag pulled anywhere in the gym; no safe zone. So it takes us a while to warm up because nobody wants to get out early. We look like animals at play, watching our target watch us, glancing at their weak spots, trying to figure out the best time to attack. I’m pretty good at performing tricks when it comes to this game. I always act like I’m not paying attention to anyone so they don’t see me as a threat. And as they try to sneak past me, that’s when I attack.

I think that’s called reverse psychology. However, tricks only last so long before someone catches on. I notice people weren’t falling for my traps anymore, so it was time to move on with a new strategy. I decided to watch Kaylee for a bit and see if I can learn something from her. She dips, dodges, and dives away from danger like a football player running to make a touchdown.

But someone reaches for her flag and she tries to dodge them, only ending up on the ground,leading to her death. She shakes her head and sits on the side lines. People are getting out on both sides of the battle at least; this still leaves us with a chance to win. I decide to go across enemy territory. I’ve never been across the enemies’ line before because I know it will just be suicidal.

But since my Kaylee is out, I’ll take the risk. Once I’m across, I’m instantly spotted by a senior.He has the perfect gym attire: blue t-shirt, black basketball shorts, and white Nike’s. He does a little jog towards me as if he wants to ask me a question. But I know the truth of his movement, he is coming for the kill. I run towards the wall and lean against it so I can try to defend myself.

Well this is the end. When he makes his way towards me, he spreads his legs and arms apart to make sure there was no way of escaping. He lets his fingers wave through the air, anticipating the feeling of my flags in his paws. His mouth turns into a smile with his teeth bearing at me; he knows that I have no chance against him. He makes the first move for my flag but I react by moving hip to get the flag out of his reach. I reach for his flag and he moves back in surprise.

He didn’t think I would fight back. I copy his stance and flash back that death smile he gave to me. I’m not going down without trying. We go back and forth reaching for each others and moving out of the way of death, until he gets too close for the reach. I don’t move back, instead I reach, clench, and pull my hand without even processing what I just did. The movement feels involuntary like my arm and hand are having a seizure.

I look in my closed hand and see his blue flag dangling in it. “No, no! That’s not possible!” he stammers. I look at him thinking the same thing in disbelief. He looks bewildered and frustrated with himself, but somehow he also looks proud at me. “..

.Well done,” he puts his hand out and I place the flag in his hand. He looks up at me and smiles, except it is a genuine smile and it isn’t asking for a challenge like the one he gave to me before. He then walks away to the side lines. I’m left there standing alone in enemy territory, still trying to process what happened.

I never felt so accomplished in a game of capture the flag. My next mission was to get out of this area, it was not safe. But don’t want someone to see me on the move. I make my way back towards my team’s side of the gym until I see two seniors coming towards me. It’s a girl and a boy this time but they don’t look threatening like the last one. But of course I set up my guard and get defensive.

They go for my flags but I keep moving back and forth like a crab. I think to myself about how much fun I am having teasing these two, no wonder they enjoy messing with us. Suddenly the boy and girl stands up straight and look at each other and say something to each other. They look back at me and walk away. I tilt my head in curiousity and wonder why they are walking away.

Are they not going to attack me? I can not believe they just felt me here and it made me nervous, I wonder if they are getting back up so they can take me down. I look for them again and see them just guarding the flagThey are not even facing me now. I slowly move towards them and the flag. No one sees me. I stop a few feet away from the flag and them.

My heart starts moving in my chest. It feels like it’s moving in every which way, it just can’t get comfortable. I can easily get the flag. Easily. I can just bolt on over and grab it and run towards my side so we can finally win against the seniors.

I see it now. I reach for the flag and clench tightly around the pole of the flag and pull it out of the cone it sits in. Nobody is going to suspect it. Nobody is going to suspect me to get; that’s why it’s perfect. It’s so perfect.

I breathe in. It hurts to breathe so I let it out quickly. I can’t believe I can win this for us. I’m going to-. Before I can finish my train of thought I hear ringing in my ears.

I look around and see the coach blowing the whistle and waving his hand. “Alright everyone, get changed.” My heart stops moving but I’m not sure it’s beating like it should. I am devastated to know that the game is over, the battle is done and forgotten. I just needed a little more time and we could of one. I fill myself with guilt and frustration to the point where I can never forget what I could of done.

And the saddest part is that my team will never know how close we were to winning. Only I will suffer the memory of this day.