Remember all your hiding spots.
Most everyone else had been caught, so the game was clearly coming to an end. Looking for people is never as fun as hiding from them. I had managed to stay safe, despite several close calls in open space. I had run across the lawn, thinking no one was around, but a couple of the girls had been resting, just laying on their backs and staring up into the star-filled night sky. At about the halfway point, one of them screamed, “There he is!”
Shit. It’s the only word that comes to mind when you’re playing ditch and you get spotted, but still have enough distance between you and those that are trying to hunt you down to maybe, possibly, hopefully, make it to safety.
I picked up the pace and headed for the deepest, darkest patch of bushes. Are my feet making all that noise, or are they right behind me? Don’t look back. Just get to the bushes and dive.
Once you hit the ground, you push out whatever branches are keeping you from maneuvering, and you start crawling. It’s okay to make some noise, right at the beginning — the pursuers, they’ve seen exactly where you jumped in — but stealth mode goes into effect the second you start heading in a new direction. Otherwise, you just get trapped, tagged and laughed at the second you peak your head out of the bushes. All the scratches on your skin and the dirt on your clothes were for nothing. I listened for footsteps. Nothing. I don’t think the girls were even looking. They probably didn’t even get up. That’s how they’re having fun now — Watching the idiots still hiding duck for cover even though no one is going to bother to really chase them.
The deep cover mindset is hard to shake, however. If you walk out to ask if the game is over, well, then, it’s definitely over. So you just stay patient, listen, and pretend like someone is quite possibly stalking you, waiting for you to take just one more step, right into their trap. Tag. You’re out.
Still, you can only bide your time for so long. You wait and wait, but still hear nothing, and at some point you’ve got to walk out there and find out what the hell is going on. This is the most stressful moment. To break cover or to hold out. Making the decision to go from one to the other is the life or death decision in ditch.
I made my way out of the bushes, into the center. This area was shielded from the park’s lighting, but the full moon graced an illuminating glow over the area.
He was standing so still, I wouldn’t have even noticed him had he not spoken. “Jeff?”
It was T. The way he was whispered, I knew he was still in the game. My God, we were both still alive.
I ran towards T. and he ran towards me, slowly at first, and then with the speed of a full-on sprint. We dove into each other’s arms. There was something manic in the way we were celebrating, as if getting caught might have meant more than the end of a game. We were laughing loud enough to give up our position. But no one came. They had all turned in and were probably having a chuckle about how we were still out there, hiding. But we had the last laugh. We definitely had the last laugh.