It was cold. So cold that the boys shivered in their boots. It was dark. Almost as black as the hearts of the enemies they had been commanded to destroy. It was raining. Fat droplets that resembled the tears they had shed as they had said goodbye to their mothers the day before. They were miserable. And it was only going to get worse.

The troop made its way through the forest, snaking through the undergrowth, making as little noise as possible. Unfortunately, Timmy was still crying because he had accidentally eaten a spider at dinner which the others had put into his sandwich when he wasn’t looking. The noise was making the other boys anxious, and they kept trying to shush him. Of course, this made Johnny, the commander, extraordinarily frustrated.

“Shut up!!!” He half-whispered, half-roared (His voice was in the process of breaking, so it came out as more of a strange, strangled squeak). “Your shushing is even louder than his crying”.

The boys were quiet. Now the only thing that could be heard was the patter of the rain, and the sniffle, hic, sniffle, hic of Timmy trying to stifle his anguish. The troop continued on their way. Suddenly, Johnny stopped.

“I hear something”, he said cautiously

“No you didn’t, stop trying to scare us!” replied Sam, his second in command.

“No, no, I swear I’m not trying to trick you this time…Listen!”

From the brush to their left came a rustle. The boys all turned to their left, straining to see what it was, but despite what their mothers said about carrots, they couldn’t see anything.

“I bet it’s just a bunny or something”, said Sam.

“ROARRRRRRR”, came the response from the woods!

“AHHHHHHHHHHH”, screamed the boys as they broke file and ran.

“Bear!!!!”

“Help”

“Oh my god”

“Run, run, you’re in my way”

“Mommmyyyyyyyyyyy”

Chaos broke out as the cohort of pre-pubescent boys sprinted in opposite directions. As they continued screaming, a new sound suddenly burst from the bushes—uncontrollable laughter.

“You fell for it!” roared the Girls’ troop. They bent over laughing. “Hahahaha…boys are sooooooo stooopid”

As the boys slowly realised what had happened, shame bloomed across their faces. They stomped back to where they had dropped their packs, and grimaced as they saw the girls high-fiving each other.

“I told you it was a bunny or something silly. I wasn’t scared” protested Sam. The wet patch down his leg suggested otherwise.

The prank had mostly been harmless, however, as the girls jubilated and the boys fought over who had and who hadn’t been scared, one boy, Timmy, cowered apart from the rest. Scrambling to get away from the ‘bear’, he had tripped over a log and fallen into a thorny bush. He now sucked on a bleeding pinky finger which had 2 tiny thorns sticking out of it. Trying not to draw attention to himself because he knew the other boys would make fun of his relentless crying, he retreated into the background as the two troops joined together and started gathering wood for a bonfire.

Timmy wasn’t usually the type of boy that girls noticed. He had mousy brown hair, round piggy glasses and had just had braces put in. For this trip however, he had, for the first time removed his glasses and was wearing big boy contacts. As a result of his fall, his hair, muddy and tangled, was wind-swept. These two things all of a sudden made him noticeable.

Eileen, leader of the girls’ troop, was headed to gather some firewood when she spotted Timmy. Eileen was one of those popular girls who isn’t popular because she’s nasty and commandeering, but because she is sweet towards everyone. This of course made her doubly intimidating to boys like Timmy, who she never took notice of, even when they were right in front of her face. As we have already said though, tonight, despite his bleeding finger and teary eyes, Timmy looked different. In the firelight, his mousy brown hair was bronze, and the mud that caked it made him look wild. Eileen, who was just learning about the Greeks in history, thought he resembled Achilles. Then she noticed his cut, and her heart swooned. Not only was he Achilles, but he was an injured Achilles! A true warrior!

“Timmy, oh my goodness, are you ok?”, gushed Eileen.

“…Ye…Ye…Yes”, stammered Timmy. Eileen had never spoken to him before, what on earth was this goddess doing talking to him?

“You’re bleeding!”

“Um, oh, er, it’s not that bad”, he said, wiping away his tears. How embarrassing!

“It’s trickling down your finger!”

“Um…”

“I’m going to put on a BandAid”. Eileen reached into her pocket and pulled out two shiny plasters. “Would you like a Spongebob one or a Dora the Explorer One? I prefer Dora, let’s do that one”. Eileen pulled off the plastic and slowly wrapped it around his finger. As she touched Timmy’s hand, they each felt an electric shock pass through them. Eileen gasped. This was exactly like what Bella felt in Twilight (she knew this because she had stolen the book from her older sister’s room). She looked Timmy in the eyes and knew that she was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him. Timmy, on the other hand, was shitting his pants. A girl had literally touched his finger. Obviously he loved Eileen, everyone loved Eileen. But what was he meant to say to her? Where was he meant to look? Was he supposed to make eye contact? Did babies come from eye contact? Did babies come from touching fingers?

“All better!”, said Eileen, “Want to come sit next to me at the bonfire?”

“Um…”, Timmy’s mind was racing – what to say??? Had he just been chosen to be the one to sit next to Eileen??? “Um….um…but doesn’t Johnny normally sit next to you?”

“Ugh, Johnny, no, he’s soo dumb. He was so scared when we pretended to be a bear. But you, you were strong and brave and got hurt trying to protect the others!” Timmy was not strong, or brave, or trying to protect the others. He was just clumsy. But this was his opportunity, and he knew he had to take it.

“Ok, um, yeah, I’ll sit next to you. Can I carry your twigs? he asked.

“Oh, yes sure, thank you!”

In the space of a minute, Timmy had changed. Charged with being the chosen one, he had transformed from boy to man. He took Eileen’s twigs, and hefted them towards the fire, taking his seat next to Eileen. Everyone stared in disbelief.

That night, in the depths of the forest, love bloomed. When Timmy got home the next day, he told his Mom that he was permanently switching to contact lenses.

— C. Utermann

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