I dodged behind the tall bush and stood completely still, listening for the feet thudding on the pavement to pass by, although at this point, I couldn’t differentiate between that and my heart hammering against my chest. Breathing through my nose so as not to expose my position, I peeked around the bush to check if the coast was clear. It was. Crouching, I swiftly moved to the next bush, which provided better cover. I saw three small figures running off in the distance, one clearly chasing the others, circling the lake near which the park was situated.
Good. I was safe for now. I took off, towards the jungle gym away from the lake, a tall tower that consisted of many colorful tunnels and slides. Grabbing the wrung of the nearest ladder, I pulled myself up to gain control of high ground, to have the bird eye advantage. Ducking behind one of the short walls that had a giant game of tic-tac-toe installed, I hazarded a glance through the gaps of the giant game markers, quickly ducking back, lest my position was compromised. In the distance, I heard shrill squeals and knew that I should be good for at least five minutes or so to catch my breath.
The giant sun extended its rays, poking me violently, burning every inch of exposed skin with its powerful reach while the parts of me that took refuge under my sweat-ridden t-shirt and khaki shorts remained indefinitely cooler. A wandering ladybug fluttered to a rest upon my bent knee, hunkering down for a quick break, its glossy shell glinting ruby red in the fierce glare of the sun. In that moment, I heard feet pounding nearby. I quickly blew the ladybug for the fear of squishing it as I scrambled to my hands and knees and quickly ducked inside the nearby tunnel, which led to the other side of the jungle. The cool tunnel quickly deposited my small frame onto the burning platform on the other side, my hands and knees slightly scalded. I had to be quick, there was no way I was gonna get caught right now. I had come too far for this to end so fast.
I skittered towards a small set of stairs that led to another tunnel which was connected to the main slide that led to the edge of the park, which was lined with good cover bushes and climbable trees. I reached the shelter of the slide, standing crouched, my arms and legs splayed against the narrow burrow, holding my breath until the threat passed. I inched slowly towards the mouth of the slide, ready to make a swift escape if needed, though my legs were starting to feel like jelly in this cramped position. Just as I reached the edge, I heard feet running up the short flight of stairs. I’ve been found!
Letting go of my safe stance, I dove into the slide, zooming down fast. Leaping out, I sprinted, vaulting over the small bushes to make good time. Just when I thought I was safe, a small body careened into me, sending me flying. I thrust my hands forward to break what was going to be a face-first fall. I looked over my shoulder just as hand flashed forward and a voice exclaimed, “YOU’RE IT!”