The Great Escape of '51

Snapshots in Prose - The Great Escape of '51 When our mothers left for work each afternoon, we didn't cry. We let them kiss us and turned to each other. We had important things to do. We had serious games to play. We sat on the floor and prepared for battle. I sat behind my line of kneeling rubber soldiers. With his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, Mario sat across from me behind his line of standing rubber soldiers. And the battle began.

We killed them with gunfire and explosions. Our snapping fingers sent the little green men with rifles tumbling across the floor, and they died with moans and shrieks. When we were louder than the children drawing at their tables, the teacher, who never smiled, stood over us and put a stiff finger to her stiff lips. Then she'd walk back to the other side of the room, which was the biggest room I had ever seen.

When all our rubber soldiers were dead, we took the silver metal knights on horses and those kneeling behind shields out of a box next to us; and making low crashing sounds and angry faces, we rode them off the table top. Even the ones kneeling behind shields rode off a table. This was better than playing war alone or reading the comic books my mother brought home. I didn't care anymore that my mother worked. I looked forward to seeing Mario.

One day, when the teacher was speaking to a crying girl sitting under a table, we played a new game. We put our stiff fingers to our stiff lips, tiptoed out of the room, and ran past the gymnasium, which was always empty, to the staircase at the end of the hall. The steps were high, and I could hear that Mario was breathing as hard as I was. We couldn't giggle anymore. On the top floor, we found another door and sat against it.

Once we caught our breath, we stood and opened the door and ran up the iron fire-escape stairwell. We were noisy, but we didn't care anymore. At the top of the steps and out of breath again, I used both hands to slide the huge bolt to the side, and together we pushed open the heavy metal door that led to a windy rooftop.

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