Everyone knew the Olsen's. And if you just moved in, Mrs. Olsen would make a pie, get her family altogether and they would deliver the pie to your house. These pies were the best treat. It won every baking competition at church. They went to church every Sunday, gardened, did every fundraiser, and bake sale for the schools. Mr. Olsen went to work five days a week from nine to five. They went out to eat Fridays.
Mr. and Mrs. Olsen had many children. Eight children altogether. All boys. Ranging from four to ten. (There were a few twins.) Their first child was my best friend, Gerald. Gerald was the best. I went to his house almost every day. And if I was sick, he was at mine with my homework. I became one of their sons almost. My parents let them come over all the time. Because I was an only child, he was like my sibling. And his parents were used to me being there all the time. After a while, the Olsen's house was like my own.
Don't get me wrong, I love him like a brother. But sometimes he can push me out of my comfort zone a bit too much. Once he dared me to eat dirt. Another time he wanted me to find a snake in the woods he calls his backyard. I ate the dirt but didn't find the snake. I don't recommend having dirt; it made me sick. So one day, when he told me he had a new idea, you can probably assume that I said no the first time he said he had a new idea.
"What, why not? Is this because not all my ideas are great ones?" I nod my head. "It's an adventure club! My siblings, you, and I can venture out into the backyard scavenging. Like real life explorers! It will be fun, I promise!" I roll my eyes. I never seem to be able to convince him not to do something, or get out of one of his little games or challenges.
"Fine." So it was settled. We would organise the boys and give them their parts in the game. There were enough roles for everyone to play their own part. There were two categories we could have, explorer or scientist. The explorers needed brawn, brain, a scientist out there, a leader, and a scientist to transportate the object outdoors to indoors. For scientist there would be the one out there, one running the other scientists, one to study it through knowledge, one to study through examination, one to give the report on what it was.
After school, Gerald almost ran home with his idea. I was walking slowly, trying to make the walk home enjoyable. But Gerald challenged me to a race, so we were at his house too quickly. I was glad we were assigned a homework assignment for once. But after doing multiplication with two-digit numbers, it was on. It didn't help that Gerald was really smart and did all the problems really quickly as well.
So before I knew it, we were in his room putting all the job forms together. We had to put on the jobs and make the forms. We put the job title at the top, beneath a place for them to put their name, and where they worked. We worked on them for about an hour, because we kept making jokes and we were snacking as well. But soon enough, we were done.
Then we rumbled down the stairs and called all the brothers together. And then Gerald began. "Welcome to The Adventure Gang, where we will work together and be amazing explorers." He went on to explain how the game worked while I handed out papers and they traded their jobs around until they were happy. Eventually, we got into some dress up and the scientists made their workshop with me, while Gerald went out with the explorers.
The Adventure Gang went on for weeks, all up until Gerald told me that he was the true ring leader. I tell him he runs the outside, I run the inside. He laughs and shakes his head. We argued and kept playing, until Gerald made, yet another move to try to control my group. I told him to back off. He yelled at me. "I MADE the game! I convinced you to play. You're just another player!"
I stare at him in awe. "Fine. Have it your way. I'm leaving." I grabbed my coat but Gerald went trying to convince me to stay, but then I leave. On my way out Gerald's mom walked in asking what had happened. Some of his siblings started to tell her but Gerald kept chasing me. I just kept walking. Gerald had always been controlling. He had made all the games. I always suffered from it. He said I'm just a player myself.
Eventually, I got home. I tried to sneak in, but I'm not good at sneaking around. So when my mom asked me why I was home early, I mumbled, "I wasn't feeling great. I'm going to lie down."` I could feel her getting suspicious and I could feel her sneaking behind me. I went to my room and stayed home from school for a few days. Until my mom came in to talk to me.
"Gerald's mother called me and told me what happened. Why you're 'sick.' I'm sorry, but you have to go back tomorrow. You haven't been sick. Just sad." I didn't want to talk about him. He had said terrible things. I start to cry. My mom comes to my side and consoles me gently. Eventually I am calm enough to talk again.
"I don't want to. Gerald will be there and I don't want to talk to him." I look at her and she nods her head slowly. I think she understands. "He takes advantage of me mom. I don't want to be friends with someone like that. She continues her slow head bob.
"Yes, I understand what he said to you. Why it's not ok. But he is sorry and didn't mean it. He's been missing school too. He's been your best friend for years. I'm sure he'll grow out of it. Go makeup, please." I don't say or do anything. "Please?" I nod. I understand what I have to do.
"Yes." I hopped out of bed and put on some sneakers. Then I start to walk. I'm careful not to touch any of the cracks in the side walk. And then I get to his house. His youngest brother opens the door, and talks to me until Gerald comes down the stairs. He says hi. I say hi back. It's awkward until he says he's sorry.
"Apology accepted. Can we start the gang again, and never fight ever again."
And we did, and we haven't had a fight since. And went on for a long time.