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A Story from my Neighborhood

Danika Staples'24

My neighborhood is quite small and almost all of the other kids my age are boys. So, I spent a lot of time playing with boys, riding our bikes, playing sports and games, and building forts. Our best fort was a hangout spot that we used for a couple of months before we got kicked out. It was on the property line of two houses and the golf course that backs onto our neighborhood. It was a perfect no man's land sort of spot that was sheltered by trees and some poor persons shed. We spend weeks making it perfect. Breaking branches and raking leaves to clear the area out. Then sheltering it with pieces of wood along with stones and bricks. Next, we moved in furniture, some outdoor chairs, random things that we grabbed from the curb on trash day, we even found a metal pole and made our own flag. We had gotten kicked out of our previous hideout by the property owners, so we had to go on stealth missions to recover our stuff and move it to the new location. Every day after school we would race down to the fort on our bikes and hang out, eating snacks and playing card games. I remember one time I got down there and most of the boys were already there. They were shifting all of our stuff and when I asked they explained that the owner of the one house had come out and yelled at them to get off his property. So, we then spent the evening moving all of our stuff over the property line so he couldn't yell at us anymore. We continued to make modifications to our hideout and rebuild it after storms knocked stuff down. Then one day the owner of the other house, who also owned the shed that we were behind, came over to our fort. It was a very scary experience for all of us because we were just playing a card game and then suddenly this guy appeared from around the corner of the shed. There was nowhere to run so we all just sat there frozen. As it turned out there was nothing to be afraid of, at least not at that time. The "nice Asian guy" as we took to calling him since we didn't know his name, just told us that we could stay there as long as we didn't do anything stupid like setting a fire. We assured him that we were very responsible, and as he walked off we stared at each other in shock. Of all the yards that we had ridden our bikes through or made forts in, we had never had a property owner react like that. Of course, a few weeks later, everything changed.

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