How the Game is Played

The rock beneath my feet was the perfect surface for my frantic movements and I smiled as my feet did as they were told. The combination was complicated but I had learned well and now my feet could move as effortlessly as my instructor's had so many years ago.

I could feel Megan's gaze watching my every move as I tapped and danced my way across the top of the table-like rock. She had been waiting for this moment, I knew that she had wanted to ask but was aware of my reluctance to perform for no reason. This may have been an odd reason, but it was a reason nonetheless.

I finished my routine and made a shallow bow in front of her and she grinned while pointing to something behind me. I turned and saw that there was a low hill several miles distant and I knew that our game was on once more.

We both bolted from the top of the rock and leapt to the soft ground beyond. Our feet dug up chunks of soil and tossed them in the air as we sprinted along side by side. Anything in our path was only viewed as a vague inconvenience. We jumped over, crawled under, climbed across, or went around whatever appeared.

My legs were pounding, still somewhat fatigued from the dance routine before, but I was not about to let that slow me down. I dug deep, a knowing grin spreading across my face as I discovered another reserve somewhere in the depths of my being.

Megan had gained some distance on me, leaping over fallen branches and tumbled rocks like they were nothing. I let the newfound energy surge through me as I picked up my pace and began to catch up to her running form.

She turned to look at me as I somehow managed to pass her and skid my way down a sandy drop-off that had suddenly appeared in front of us. She called out to me, saying something about me having wings on my feet, but most of it was torn away by the wind rushing by my ears.

I bounced and slid my way down the steep incline and then sprinted on as soon as my feet touched level ground once more. The hilltop was in my sights now, the round smooth top the only thing that existed for the moment. The goal was almost reached and I realized that I had enough of a reserve left to sustain my burst of speed.

I splashed through the narrow stream that trickled along the bottom of the gully that I had found myself in and launched my body at the steep incline that lined the opposite side. Sand and rocks skittered around me as I scrambled up the loose terrain. My breathing was heavy, but steady. I knew that I would make it now. Just at the top of the incline was the base of the shallow hill, and beyond that, the top, our decided finish line.

I had lost track of Megan now, my mind fixed firmly on my endpoint. I was not about to stop and find out where she was either. The last time I had done that I had ended up last in our game which had brought about the earlier dance routine. Now I was going to win, now I was going to have the joy of watching Megan perform a dance. That was the rule. That was how the game was played.

The hill came into sight once more as I scurried over the lip of the incline. My feet found new purchase and I resumed my sprint. The hill was climbed with almost no thought to effort and I skidded to a stop at the crest. I dropped to my knees in the deep grass, panting like an overheated dog. Megan dropped down beside me only seconds later.

"I win," I said, my words barely heard over the battle for air. "Your turn."

Megan was breathing hard as well, but nowhere near as badly as I was. She had obviously paced herself. I knew it was entirely possible that she had decided to take pity on me this round, I had already lost the last three rounds we had played earlier that morning.

"Alright," she said and got to her feet.

I remained on the ground, catching my breath as I watched her slip into one of her well memorized routines. Her form dipped and swayed, twirling with practiced grace. I was worn out from the exertion, but as I watched her dance, I knew it had been worth it.

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