16: Capture the Flag

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Games We Play

"He is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen and it's not about his face, but the life force I can see in him. It's the smile and the pure promise of everything he has to offer."

—Melina Marchetta, On the Jellicoe Road

16: Capture the Flag

      On the morning of the third weekend back in VAc, I found myself standing in our large school gardens next to Eduardo, Oscar and the rest of my new trimester-two group, quietly waiting for the fourth game of the Victor's Tournament to begin. The feeling was surreal - and somewhat forgotten; I forgot the feeling of waiting for these games to begin, the feeling of being anxious of what could happen or go wrong.

 But when we were in these games, I'd learnt things were different. People were different - everything outside of the game didn't matter. Like at this moment, Eduardo and I pretended that our conversation from two days ago, where I pathetically turned him down, had been wiped from existence. We pretended there was no lingering awkwardness that we tried to deny, like the way we had yesterday when I met him to help me with my maths.

It was the power of the game over us - and as each one inched closer to the finals, we were responsible for giving it the control to grow.

All four groups suddenly went silent and trained their eyes on Counselor Clara, who was walking onto the stage with a microphone. "I'm sure you all must be excited to come spend your weekend morning competing in the Victor's Tournament instead of sleeping in. But I promise you'll enjoy it – this fourth game is a game you all must be familiar with. Capture the flag," she enthusiastically announced.

The silence was quickly replaced a collective cheer of pleasure and excitement from all four groups.

"So here's how it works. The entire school field, including the field outside the school's gates has been divided into four parts, each for one team's territory. Each team has a flag, color coded. The aim is between the five members of your group, to protect your own team's flag from being taken and to obtain the other team's flags. If you're a player on the opposite team's territory, you can be caught and tagged by any member of the team to prevent you from taking their flag. If you're tagged - you're out, and your team will continue to play with one less member," she explained. "The game should last for around an hour - as soon as your team obtains a flag, you have to report it so that we can record results, from first to fourth place. If your own flag is taken, your team is out."

"Any questions?" she smiled sweetly as soon as she was finished. When no one responded to her, she shrugged. "You and your group have ten minutes to get to your own territory and decide how to start. When you hear the bell, you're to start."

"Let's go," Summer, a girl in my group quickly said as soon as she received a map marking the vicinity of each group's territory, leading us all off into a direction. "Our flag is yellow."

"What about the other groups?" Oscar asked as we walked for a few minutes.

"Group A is red. B is blue. D is green," she said, suddenly sprinting. "This is ours," she pointed towards the bright yellow flag that was placed onto a patch of dry sand, without grass.

"We should split up. Between the five of us, I think three people should go to get others' flags and two people should stay and make sure our own isn't taken," Eduardo directed, taking charge. "I'll leave. Who's staying?"

"I'll stay," Oscar quickly said before I could call dibs.

"I'll stay as well," Patrick said. "Oscar, stay here. I'll go to the other end."

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