In elementary school we had a school-wide track and field day.  The entire school would participate, and as a class we would compete against others of our grade in games, races competitions.  I don’t remember much about these days – indeed, I have blocked them from my memory as I never did enjoy them – however I do remember the tug of war.  I don’t remember it occurring in my later years there, only through grades one to three, and I remember one of those instances (although I’m not certain which grade it was) vividly.

Where I live, winter seems to last forever.  Even when the trees are green and the grass has (finally) become plush enough to walk around barefoot, I am always afraid that underneath a soft leaf there may be some frost.  The ground doesn’t seem to ever thaw thoroughly, and so regardless of the fact that these track and field days took place in June mud would rise from the sand pits used for the older kids to long-jump and the younger kids played tug of war over.

A thick, solid rope suspended over a giant sinkhole of mud and last year’s candy wrappers.
Fifteen children on one end, fourteen on the other.  One of them is really strong, though, so it’s all even.  He’s going to be a hockey player.

We pull and they pull and we pull and they pull and the rope is stretched every which way.  The flag in the middle bounces from one side to the other, unable to make up it’s mind.

We and they collapse into a heap of giggles when the whistle is blown and nobody saw the flag decide.  It doesn’t matter now, though, because there’s juice by the basketball nets and we’re hot and it’s been a long day.

After all that pulling, the rope lies in a heap, forgotten in sand-mud and last year’s candy wrappers.  For all that exercise it’s not stronger but frayed and broken.

Explore posts in the same categories: Creative Writing, Literature, Prose

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