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The Bedroom Wars
Historical fact: when the siblings Jake, Albert, Sarah, and Becky, are in an enclosed space together, a volcano is waiting to erupt beneath them.
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a castle with high, barricaded walls. Its defenses were as strong as a tiger’s jaw. It had a flourishing kingdom. Blooming flowers lined the paths, and a shining sun laughed with the children. My territory.
Across a narrow valley to the north, a looming, crumbling yet formidable tower glared at the horizon: stones black, sky gray, inhabitants bleak. The grass on that side of the valley was dead, the trees bare. No visitor who went in came out. The enemy. My brothers’ dwelling.
If they dared emerge, dressed in ghostly black, swords clashed. Black versus white. Clang! The valley range. Twang! Arrows were loosed whistling through the thick air. The boys were like a hungry bear searching for nourishment.
A slinking sneer. A battle cry. War has begun.
The bedroom wars: South bunk bed holding its own against a bristling north. Girls against boys.
Two bunk beds facing each other, sizing up the opponent only a few feet away. Off-white walls delineate the world of four children. Right above my head a pillow strikes. A shriek. It hits a scribble on the wall behind my head. Truce is broken. The peace is shattered. The front lines brace, prepare, charge.
A fusillade of pillows and stuffed animals careen in all directions. Feathers and toys litter the floor. So many feathers choking the air, coating the ground, like winter snow shrouding the earth. Adrenaline fuels a plan of attack. A window is the only surface bridging the minefield between the worlds, with a narrow wooden sil. I set out, edging along the dangerous road to victory.
The draw bridge is closing, but I must make it into the enemy’s zone, to take control and triumph. Becky cheers me on, but, from their fortress up ahead, my brothers are pelting me relentlessly with a zoo of stuffed animals. My face a frozen mask, I dodge and creep on. Determined.
Up ahead the portcullis is closing. I’m almost through. A blur of movement tickles my peripheral vision. But I can’t be distracted. I lurch on. Boom! I’m struck. Collapse. Fall. Time slows. The distance down is far for a 3rd grader. I cringe.
“NOO!!” Becky screams.
A soft landing. A giggle rises in my throat. The floor is covered in a blanket of feathers and pillows. I rise and put up my hands. Submission.
Hoots. The boys won. I am defeated. Yet a smile lightens my stony expression. There is still tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will win.
Many years later, and only now am I beginning to understand the concept of winning. It’s not always about the victory, the prize, the A+. Sometimes it’s just about me. Yes, I may have lost the battle, but I will win the war. Because there are things to be learned from mistakes, and there is a whole world waiting to be conquered. How can I prevail in the end, if I’m losing life’s long term brawl? So tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, I will get out of bed with a smile at what’s coming my way. For if I don’t smile, no matter what hits me, then I’m already defeated.