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Court Kids
Leah, Age 13, Kitchener, ON

I darted across the border, dashing past the guards and searching, always searching. One guard, whose name was Jake, sped after me, and I put on a burst of speed. But suddenly, I felt a warm hand grab my arm and I was dragged to the jail.

"Gonna give us a clue?" Jake’s harsh voice rang out.

I stuck my tongue out impudently at him. "Fat chance!"

"OK then!"

I watched him stalk away and position himself a few feet in front of me. Casting my eyes around, I saw a smooth, round object half-hidden beside the fence. Looking away and trying to seem normal, I saw my friend Whitney dancing around on the wrong side of the border, in danger of being caught. I grinned as Jake sped after her. It wasn’t a joke after all; it was a game!

My suspicions were confirmed as I saw Jill take a wide sweep of the land and come up beside me. We fled to our side, both free. Nobody even noticed us escaping; they were all concentrating on Whit. At the last possible second she ran off, leaving Jake and the others to come after us. But we were already on the other side of the boundaries.

I ganged up with two others and went across to the fence in a pincer movement. We were speeding towards the treasure, with two guards in hot pursuit. I seized it swiftly and, dodging yet another guard, sped homeward. As I crossed the border our side erupted in cheers. The girls had won at flags!

It was a typical summer night for the kids at the court. Playing ‘Flags’ or ‘Manhunt’ was a usual nighttime game. Not to mention a usual fun nighttime game.

Everyone gathered on the court, the boys scowling, the girls grinning and cheering.

"It’s dark enough now, how about some Manhunt?" one of the boys asked. Not only did they hate losing, but they also loved ‘every man for himself’ games.

The older kids glanced at the dark sky.

"Why not?" Whitney said. "Just remember, if the parents don’t see you, you don’t go inside."

She was referring to the parents at Mr. Dave and Mrs. Sherri’s, chatting on the driveway, beside (or on) their big purple pickup truck. If they saw one of their kids, they were sure to remember that it was about ten o’clock at night.

I loved my neighbourhood. I could walk out my house and be wanted by a bunch of kids to play a game. I had tons of friends, and so many ‘fav’ places to hang out. But sometimes things don’t last. Sometimes things change.

The next day, eating dinner at Pizza Hut, Mom and Dad started talking about getting a new house. I wasn’t really eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help hearing them talk. (Has it ever occurred to you how many times parents talk very loud, right in front of you, and then say you shouldn’t be eavesdropping on their conversation?)

"Why do we need a new house?" I asked, appalled at the idea of leaving everything I had now.

"Leah!" Mom hissed, "We weren’t talking to you. We probably aren’t going to move, we’re just discussing possibilities."

"But…"

"No buts. We’ll tell you if anything happens that you need to know." Dad stated.

I sulkily slurped my iced tea and contented my self with glaring at Mom and Dad.

I was a little quiet during Manhunt that night, unusually quiet for me.

Jake approached me from the corner, chuckling as he saw me.

"You it?" I asked cautiously.

"Yes!"

I dashed off, veering towards my house and zigzagging madly. Chancing a glance behind me, I realized that Jake had been left far behind. I paused and started my victory dance.

"The Gazelle!" I cried out gleefully.

Jake stopped dead in his tracks. "Huh?"

"A gazelle…a fast-moving, deer-like animal?" I replied incredulously, surprised he didn’t know.

"And ‘The Gazelle’ is about to be caught!" he yelled mockingly, resuming running.

"Ha!" I waited until he was about a metre away, then dashed off again, running and spiraling around Jake until he dropped to the ground, breathless.

I howled at the sky, then sauntered away with dignity.

Mom called form the house, reminding us how late it was, and the disturbing fact that tomorrow was a school day. I grew sober again as I glanced at the house. In the midst of all the activity, I’d forgotten all about the moving problem.

A couple days later Mom and Dad pulled us into the living room. (I should have known it was something important; usually the kitchen table sufficed for family talks.) They told us that they’d found a nice house, or rather, lot that they wanted to move into. It was big, in a good area, by a park, a forest, a pond, and lots more. The best part was, it would take 2 whole years to build the house. 2 more years at the court! I was thrilled.

My parents held the lot, but continued to look for houses.

‘Why?’ I asked myself. ‘Don’t we already have the perfect place?’

That night I told Whit about the new lot. She was thrilled for me, and happy that we’d still be able to spend time together. "Besides, in 2 years we’ll be piled with homework, and when we’re not we can easily take a bus, right?" she asked encouragingly.

"Right!" I replied happily.

"Friends forever?"

Friends forever!"

Things were just perfect. A new house, new friends, and a big gap between then and now. Funny how these things don’t work out the way you want them to.

Yes, my parents had found a better house. Huge house, huge yard, friendly neighbourhood, and it was all affordable. Cool enough.

Moving Day: August 23rd that year!

Goodbye life.

I spent every minute with my friends, shoving away the day when I’d be gone forever.

The worst thing about the new house was that it didn’t have a second floor. I would have to sleep in my dad’s office, with my younger brother, for 2 months! Not the perfect situation for a thirteen-year-old girl. I need privacy and lots of personal space, like anyone my age. Looks like I just wasn’t going to get it. Not only would I be up late every night listening to the clicking of my dad on his computer, but I would have to survive on without jewellery, and live out of a duffle bag for the first week. What kind of life is that?!

No matter how hard I tried to push it away, August 23rd came very quickly. As it came closer and closer, I clung even harder to my last days at home. I said goodbye to the house, played as often as I could with my friends (when they weren’t at camp or something), signed my name in the window seat, and prepared to leave. Sure, I’d see the house again, but this time I’d be on the outside, looking in. 

I’m not even going to describe Moving Day. Every kid goes through the trauma at once in his or her life, and this one was no different from anyone else’s. Let’s just say I was close to tears all day. 

When we left, I was really crying. Most of my friends were at camp that day, so the goodbyes had been said the night before. Only Whit was there to wave us off. I took one last, longing look at my home before the car pulled away. One tear slowly rolled down my cheek.

We arrived, 5 minutes later, at the new house.

Duffle bag slung over my shoulder, I stared up at the house as if I’d never seen it before.

So this was home.

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