The stinkbomb exploded in a cloud of green when I stepped on it. “Ewwww”, I said. “All right!” cried the three boys behind me. They scattered to jump on every stinkbomb looking thing within ten feet. My friend and I ran ahead so the spores wouldn’t stick to our clothes. We looked at each other and shared the same thought. Boys. Mushrooms the size of my head rose from the ground and more clung to fallen logs and trees. This was the woods behind my house and my friends gathered from across my neighborhood to explore it almost every day.
We made a couple of turns and finally found the path to Elephant Rock. It was a huge boulder that all five of us could climb on. Small rocks marked the perimeter of each ‘house’. My friend and I would shriek if the boys forgot to use the ‘door’. We busied ourselves making mud pies and picking flowers while the boys ran off to hunt for ‘food’.
We played for fifteen minutes or so before the yelling started. My friend and I scrambled deeper into the woods until we met the ravine. At the bottom of the large steep chasm was shoe sucking mud most of the time. Occasionally it filled with puddles of water and we would brave the descent to catch tadpoles. Now there was a turf war going on. The boys from our side were in a heated rock throwing battle with a group of boys on the other side of the ravine.
My friend and I lobbed rocks but they fell short. Only the biggest boys of the each group could throw a rock within hitting distance. Then there would be a yelp as the rock hit a leg or an arm. When we tired of the game, each side hurled curses across the ravine and then each side cheered declaring themselves the winner. The other side of the ravine had no woods and we would watch them stomp back to their apartment complex while we turned and headed back into our sanctuary.
“Why do they always fight with us?” I asked. Shoulders shrugged. One boy suggested, “Because they live over and their woods aren’t as good as ours.”