The Fortress in the Forest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This was an essay I wrote for my AP Composition class. It's about me in lower elementary school. Please feel free to critique me!

Submitted: October 08, 2008

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Submitted: October 08, 2008

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Brambles scratched at my exposed forearms and tugged at my over-starched white uniform shirt. Occasionally, water would mist off the leaves, baptizing me with leftover dew. My feet made a soft crunching sound, a noise I tried hard to mask. I slipped, and I slunked, trying at all cost to avoid being seen. It was against the rules to go behind the playground fence; a rule most students did their best to break. There was nothing special about the space, just a motley collection of brambles and lilac bushes, but it reeked of the alluring scent of a forbidden place. Nothing makes an eight year old want to do something more than being told not too.

I was no different.

But, unlike so many others who had received time-outs, I had a plan. I figured it all out while the teacher blathered about math. What we needed was a hiding place, a sanctuary that the authorities couldn’t find.

In my head I had imagined elaborate visions of what it would look like; each hideaway accompanied by an extravagant action scene. I might step on unstable ground and fall through the roof of a crystalline cave, my safety rope catching at the last minute. Or I might lean against a tree, only to discover it hollow; an epic battle with one hundred pound bees would follow. Every scene was more dangerous, and I lusted for adventure. I lusted to explore the unknown. What I did find was much more useful than danger and adventure.

It was a small clearing, hidden by thick brambles and a rusty, musty smelling dumpster. The best part was, through a small hole in the branches, you could see the playground. The harsh recess bell clanged across the playground, followed by the obnoxious, computer illiterate computer teacher Mr. Peterson yelling. “First Graders! First Graders line up!” It was the most unanticipated and hated line in the existence of first-graderdom, closely followed by “time to get up for school.”

Abandoning secrecy, I darted away from my newfound safe-house to the secret hole in the fence. Branches that had previously remained peacefully dormant turned violent as I ran. They whipped at my legs and arms, snagging my shirt, and made nests of twigs and leaves in my hair. By the time I slid under the fence through the hole in the ground, I was covered with scratches and had created a colossal dirt stain on my shirt.

By the time I oozed craftily back onto the playground, everyone had already gone inside and I had to walk to my class room alone. The hallways seemed enormous to me, large enough to swallow a measly first-grader whole. They echoed, the sounds of muffled steps sounding like the grumbling of an empty stomach. I scurried frightfully through the damp, cavernous corridors, and tried to strangle my uneasiness with the excitement of my recent find.

It was going to me our secondary clubhouse, buried behind enemy lines, in perfect striking distance of our cruel tyrants. It was a smalltime club, three permanent members and a series of guest stars. We pretended that is was an ancient cult, existing since the beginning of time, but it was a rather recent creation. It had only recently become formal. Alex Schneider, Mickey Caulfield and I had gotten together and decided we needed something more concrete to exclude people from. The end result: MAP, a clever combination of our first names to form a simple word. Our goal was just as simple: overthrow the monstrous school, and live forever in the wild, only occasionally stopping home for milk and cookies. The safehouse was an important part to accomplishing our impossible aim, and would help MAP become a playground powerhouse.

* * * * *

The next day, I opted for anorexia. Showing disdain for the starving kids in Africa, I threw out my lunch, eating only the chocolate brownie. Having gained some extra recess, I quickly left the cafeteria to terrorize the playground. My fellow club members were close behind me, eager to view the palace I had discovered.

We took the back way, through the monstrous parked buses, and down a hill path of packed dirt. Rushing in our excitement, it was mere moments before my ignorant friends gazed on the stop of our future fortress. Alex and Mickey were mesmerized, and I immediately received a medal for valor in the field.

Over the next month and a half we turned our dirty foundation into a fortress. We made seats out of leaves, a defense perimeter out of sticks stuck in the ground, and assembled an arsenal of weapons that ranged from rocks to pocket sized squirt guns. Miraculously, no pesky kids found our meeting place, and no ignorant teachers caught us in it. It was so well hidden, right under the school’s nose, that it was unfindable and impenetrable.

It was beautiful.


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