You know, I never really thought I was the best storyteller. Or even a decent one,
for that fact. But I do know that my experience here is one that I should probably share,
one where the word should be spread. Perhaps it doesn\u2019t have some place or somewhere
in this world. Maybe it just has a place in the annals of time to be remembered later, like
a file shuffled away to be examined far into the future. Or maybe it is just a yarn to be
spun for your own entertainment. Either way, the following story is one that is exciting to
me at least, Pat.
You see, the story all started a long time ago. All the local kids would gather out
in a forest bordering town and hold these contests. Deep in the forests kids of all kinds
would come to tussle. Their skin was bruised and their hair scraggly. There were rough
kids and sometimes the softer ones would show up, if only because they\u2019re friends
wanted them too. But at one point every town in kid would come back into the woods at
least once. They would come to see a great battle on a large battlefield cleared of brush.
Perhaps it wasn\u2019t healthy (for our bodies or our minds) but it was sure fun. And no one
was forced to fight, and no two who fought really disliked each other. They just fought
because it was more fun than coming home at the end of the day and watching television
or playing videogames, than chatting with friends or running around outside. And it was
all because we felt significant because of it. The fighting may have only been with small,
13-year old fists and wooden swords made from nearby sticks, but it was real to us. It
made us feel like we were part of something real, not just a fantasy playing out before our
eyes on a screen.
But one day (and the many days following) the line between fantasy and reality
had blurred for me. That day started out like any else \u2013 My mom woke up at around 7. I
got dressed and brushed my teeth; I got my shoes on and packed my book bag. As I
walked out to the bus stop my mom kissed me goodbye and told me she loved me. She
patted my scraggly golden-blond hair and sent me out the door.
That whole day of school was normal for me too. I had all my homework for the day and everything. Nothing out of the ordinary. At ninth period though, my friend Jake (who sits next to me in that class) passed me a note during a test we were taking. It read:
My ninth period teacher has eyes like a hawk (I was surprised Jake could even get
the note to me in the first place without him noticing) so I waited until the test was
finished and the teacher let us talk freely for the last 2 minutes of class.
\u201cI\u2019ll come. I might have to finish a bit of homework before, though.\u201d
I sighed. Typical Jake. As I thought more about it though on the bus ride home
though, I got kind of scared. At first I was more concerned Jake had not told me, but then
I began to remember the Brian was perhaps the only kid there that didn\u2019t understand the
premise of the stadium in the forest \u2013 although it was an unwritten rule, you didn\u2019t really
hurt anybody too much to the point where they didn\u2019t want to fight anymore. Those \u201chate
fights\u201d were reserved for places like the football field and behind the school. Brian
always was brutal though \u2013 one time a kid left the place crying with a bloody nose and a
beat-in head after a fight with him. I personally think Brian is insecure \u2013 he fully
comprehends the ideas of the stadium, but beats people up intensely just to feel superior.
It\u2019s sad really. I almost would feel sorry for him. That is, if he wasn\u2019t going to pound my
brains out after school.
sat next to me on the bus and started talking my ear off.
\u201cHey pat. I hear you\u2019re supposed to fight Brian today.\u201d
\u201cYeah, I\u2019m gonna get clobbered though.\u201d
As Jeremy continued talking about the latest, I tried to decide about going or not.
But Jeremy\u2019s words pervaded my thoughts, I wasn\u2019t the kind of person (unlike Jake) who
could sit there and not listen to anything someone said. It was a skill of his I admired,
because he always was blunt and frankly honest. If he wasn\u2019t interested, then bang \u2013 his
hearing went off.
I couldn\u2019t think about deserting the fight with Brain since Jeremy was talking, so
instead my thoughts wandered onto Jeremy. I know he seems annoying, but he\u2019s a good
kid. His major problem is that he\u2019s caught in this cycle of hate. He was initially pretty
annoying because he wanted attention when we were younger, in third grade. But soon
we grew up and he was still annoying, so a lot of kids started hating him and calling him
names \u2013 names that scarred him very deep. So now he could only find solace in a few
kids who had a bit of forbearance, like me. The trouble was that since he always confined
in me and others, we found him very annoying. So now we dislike him we want him to
go away, but are not blunt enough to tell him. The more he annoys others the more he
annoys us, so all the pain trickles down to the tolerant ones. If he could just stop being
annoying and attention grabbing everyone would be okay with him \u2013 but it\u2019s already too
late for him, he was caught in a cycle of hate. And It was hard to not get annoyed by him,
but I tried.
\u201cYeah, thanks, Jeremy.\u201d
I arrived home about 20 minutes later and unpacked my back pack as my mom
\u201cHow was school?\u201d she said.
I didn\u2019t look up from my Homework. \u201cUsual. Do you mind if I go out after my
My mom was, in retrospect, pretty cool. She had grown up in the Area and the
stadium had been popular while she was growing up. She seemed to have this psychic
power to tell when I was going there and when I was doing something else. She was okay
with me going. Jake sometimes told me \u201cMan, you mom is the best. I need to sneak out
of my room to get to the Stadium.\u201d
James was this kid who everybody expected to grow up as a drug dealer. He did
badly in school and only found shelter in the stadium. Jake and I tried to befriend him but
he seemed too out of it to really accept the friendship. When he was at the stadium he was
totally different than his normal uncaring, disconnected self. He became a fiery and fun
fighter who was everybody\u2019s friend and nobody\u2019s enemy. Maybe that was his problem,
because one day he wound of getting in a fight with Brian. Although James was quick, he
was cocky, and wound up getting beat almost to death because he had too frail of a body
to stand up to Brian\u2019s punches. My mom always reminded me of him when I wanted to
go to the Stadium because he was still in the hospital from this incident which happened
over a year ago.
I finished off the last problem of my homework a few minutes later and got up from my chair and hugged my mom. She told me she loved me and I replied similarly. Then I walked out the door and towards the forest.
It was about a 15 minute walk from my house to the stadium, but it was worth it.
On the way I always passed a wealthy a street and a poor street which paralleled each
other. It was kind of odd seeing this people in grand houses living right across the streets
from the people who basically lived in shacks. I once wrote a paper about it in school that
I got an A+ on. MY teacher said she \u201cfound the symbolism very true and important\u201d. I
had told her in reply that there was really any symbolism; it was just my reflections of the
two streets. She disagreed with me over it though.
As I walked through the brush that littered the forest floor I could hear some noise
off in the distance from the conjugation of kids. I round one corner and suddenly filed
into a crowd of kids that surrounded a relatively empty brush-free clearing, the only
people that stood there were 5 girls that were going to fight.
\u201cThank gosh, I thought you weren\u2019t going to show.\u201d
\u201cI was thinking about it, but decided to show. You do know Brian is going to kill
\u201cNah, he\u2019s not gonna hurt you.\u201d
I waited for a moment to see if there was anything else, because I honestly
thought he was joking.
\u201cHe\u2019s not going to hurt me? Do you remember what happened to James?\u201d
Jake thought for a moment. \u201cOh yeah, that\u2019s right. James. Well, listen. He
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