My elementary school had three playgrounds; one for the kindergarten classes, with small slides and monkey bars. First through third got the Upper Playground, which was fairly large, had many slides, a climbing wall, swings, and a blacktop for foursquare and football. Fourth and fifth were condemned to the Lower Playground.
The Lower Playground had a single slide and a bunch of metal bars; mainly monkey bars, but also pull-up bars and things of the like. It also had a huge blacktop and a foursquare court.
It was very little fun.
I don’t remember how it started. In my memory, it was just something that always existed. I don’t think it ever really had a proper name; we called it “The Game” because we all knew what we were talking about, and we didn’t really need anyone else jumping in on it.
The Game was where we would play on the (very little) grassy area of the playground and become new people; princes, knights, priestesses, sorcerers. And it was perfect. It consisted of a very small cast of my friends. And we would play like it all was real until the whistle blew telling us it was time to go back to class. I was (almost always) a Priestess of the Water Dragon and heir to the throne but had Restless Princess Syndrome and refused the title “princess” and took on “priestess” instead. I could control water and water magic, and most of my inspiration for my character came from Katara from Avatar because I was going to be a kickass female character, not some submissive little shit who waited for the plot to make room for her. No sir.
Of course, we all graduated from elementary school and were expected to move past this.
Except for the fact that we, well, didn’t.
I got a call from my friend Victor shortly into that summer. “Senna. Victor. How would you like to continue playing The Game over the summer?”
And thus, we did. The General Group consisted of me, Victor, my sister, and our friend Rachael. Sometimes we’d have others who would come along; Kevin or Ben. It started out in the forest by our elementary school, but then we migrated to the forest behind Victor’s neighborhood. What mattered was that it was somewhere nature-feeling.
What’s funny is I can remember everything about the summer session except all of the names we gave our characters.
We started a whole new storyline wherin my sister and Rachael were dark sorceresses and Victor and I were long lost siblings, both heirs to the Water Dragon throne. (I still had RPS, ergo I would still not let myself be called a princess.) Our parents were long dead. Ben was originally a slave to the dark sorceresses but (for some reason?) pledged his allegiance to my brother. I never fully trusted him, seeing as several times he broke into my room and stole shit so he could sell to buy my brother new weapons that he didn’t need, but he was one less enemy to fight. Victor and I would often visit the spirit world to visit our dead parents, and at one point I thought Victor’s character was actually dead and I actually cried over it with Ben watching and trying to get me to man up. (“You don’t understand! He’s all I have left, don’t you get it?!”) It was all vividly real to me.
I don’t think we ever actually beat the dark sorceresses, though.