Fiction Kids American

Blue sky with barely any wisps of cloud stretches above me. But it doesn’t stretch forever. There are hills where I live, always going up and down. And on almost all of those hills, there are trees. So if you get to a place where there aren’t any buildings in the way of your eyes, you won’t see a horizon. You’ll see hills and trees. 

A field where we can play is never flat. There’s always a little slope, if not a big one. Go far enough in a straight line, and you’ll have to walk either up or down a hill, even a little one. 

The summer gets really hot. You can feel the sun burning you if you stand still. You don’t feel it so much if you move. So if we don’t have shade, where it can actually get uncomfortably cold, we play running games in the sun. 

“You’re it!” Braden says, sprinting to slap Lacy’s back. She stops, panting. The rest of us watch her carefully, waiting for her to burst into action. 

“Let’s play a sitting-down game,” Lacy suggests. Her long brown hair is stuck to her sweaty, reddish face. 

“Telephone?” Jackson says. Whenever we play that, he wants to start, but he always wants to say a word that whoever is next to him can’t understand. Jackson insists they’re actually words for different kinds of bugs, but when we can’t pronounce them, he just looks sad and says something like “Ant” or “Bee” or “Grasshopper.”

“No, Ricky’s too little for that,” Pete says. Everyone nods or says “Yeah,” or “Mm-hm.” Ricky just can’t be quiet enough yet. 

“What about Duck-Duck-Goose?” Zoey jokes, grinning. 

We just played that yesterday, and we all agreed we weren’t playing it again for a while. We all laugh and shake our heads. 

“Yes! Duck-Duck-Goose!” Ricky shouts. He jumps up and down with excitement. 

We all eye each other. If Ricky doesn’t get to play it now, he might start crying. 

“Okay, Duck-Duck-Goose,” Pete says. He always wants to make Ricky happy. 

Ricky squeals and dances in place, his big brown eyes wide with happiness. 

We all sit down in a circle in the sunshine, the heat beating down on the tops of our heads. The humid green grass prickles and pokes against any bare skin that comes in contact with it. I don’t look too hard at the grass, or I start seeing all sorts of tiny bugs crawling in a giant forest. It’s more bugs than I want to see. What if they all crawl all over me? Maybe they bite. 

Lacy volunteers to be the Ducker first. She walks around the circle, patting everyone’s heads as she says “Duck, duck, duck…goose!” 

I feel her hand bop on my head, and it takes me way too many seconds to register that I’m the Goose and scramble up and start running. I trip, and before I can even start running again Lacy has sat down in my spot. Now I’m the Ducker. 

I start circling, studying each player, assessing strengths and weaknesses. 

Duck-Duck-Goose is not just a game. No game really is. They’re all a test of your abilities, whether it’s your reaction time, quick thinking, getting along, or anything else. People say it’s fun to play, and it can be, but not always. 

My parents say I always overthink things. Mom and Dad ask what I can do, or what they can do with me, that’s just fun, not serious business. I can never think of anything. 

And Duck-Duck-Goose (or Duck-Duck-Gray Duck in Minnesota, or Farmer-Farmer-Duck in one European country—I can’t remember which one) is very serious business. 

You can’t just Goose anyone. At least, I think you shouldn’t. 

First of all, there’s Lacy. I would Goose her, because I think I might be able to get away from her, but she was just the Goose, so I won’t. I bop her head. “Duck.”

Next, there’s little Ricky. He’s not sitting down like he’s supposed to be. Instead, he’s crouching, fists clenched, squirming like a worm. “Pick meeeee…” he says quietly through clenched teeth. He’s so little there’s no way he can catch me, unless I let him. I don’t want to look like I’m picking on him. “Duck.”

Next is Braden. He’s crazy fast, like a rabbit, or a cheetah, or a peregrine falcon. He’ll catch me for sure. I don’t want to get tagged and have to sit in the middle. “Duck.”

Now I’m at Pete, and I hesitate. He might catch me, or I might get away. I think it’s a pretty fair match. But now I’ve paused too long, and everyone’s watching hard. Pete’s tense, waiting for me to Goose him. If he’s already ready to run, he’ll definitely tag me. “Duck.”

Jackson has his head bowed, peering at the ground. He’s probably watching a bug. Jackson says that when he grows up, he’s going to be the kind of ologist who studies bugs; an ologist is a scientist. He’s not looking, so if I Goose him, I might get away from him. But he’s not looking, so that’s not fair. “Duck.” 

Last is Zoey, Ricky’s big sister. Since she’s last, she’s probably ready to jump up and run. Too risky. “Duck.”

Now I’m back at Lacy, and I bop her head again. “Duck.”

I start my second round of the circle, bopping heads and saying “Duck, duck, duck…” Now I’m trying to figure out which person to Goose based on how close they are to the spot I need to get to. Lacy was too close. Maybe someone halfway around the circle. But Braden is at the halfway point. He’s too fast. 

I go around a third time, still thinking.

“Hurry up!” Zoey demands. 

“Goose,” I say calmly, touching her head and running. 

“Hey!” Zoey shrieks a moment later. 

Maybe she took just long enough for me to get away. 

I heave the heavy air in and out of my body, and the sun heat on my head lets up a little as I run. 

April 20, 2024 03:10

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02:10 Apr 25, 2024

You really capture the MC's overthinking in the last part of the story! These first person stories can really feel immersive like i was in the game. For suggestions, I think the first 3 paragraphs are more descriptions of the scene, maybe start with something active, and put in the description later sprinkled into the action. Action sentences like this really pull ppl in making them wonder what's going to happen next: "I start circling, studying each player, assessing strengths and weaknesses. " hmm.... me + them + conflict/problem.. see...


Thanks for reading, Scott! I really appreciate your notes. I’m so happy to hear that this was immersive. I was hoping that would be the case. Yeah, moving those descriptions so they come after a bit of action probably would have worked well.


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Thank you for reading. Critiques, feedback, and comments are greatly appreciated.


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