by zahra

Written for Slodwick's 1000 Word Challenge.

Clark is a tiger.

Well, at least he's acting like one. Okay, a careful one, but he saw it on that nature show his mom let him watch last night before bed. He spent the rest of the night going 'rowr' and crawling about on all fours. His dad told his mom that letting him watch the show probably hadn't been the best idea, but it was so cool and it was all about how tigers lay on their stomach, watching their prey before they attack.

So, Clark is a tiger, or he's pretending to be one, and he's watching prey. Of course his prey is the tire swing, as opposed to a gazelle, but he's going to get there this time.

He's going to get his prey.

Anyway it's not really that far, and he's been trying to shake Pete for ages. Over the river and through the woods, around the dead tree, into two puddles leftover from last night's storm, and Clark knows he has to have lost him by now. Nobody's tracking skills are that good - well, maybe his mom's when he's hiding under the bed - but it's quiet. Way too quiet, and Clark knows this, but the base is right there, and he can make it.

He has to.

Clark has no idea about yards and feet, but he can get there before his shoelaces come undone again or Pete catches him. He knows he can, and he has to reach the base first otherwise he'll have to be 'it' tomorrow as well, and he was 'it' all day today. It's no fun being 'it' when you have to be careful, and Pete only let him not be 'it' this time cos he complained.

Clark doesn't want to be 'it' anymore; he's always 'it'.

If Greg's mom wasn't so mean, then he would be playing too and then Pete would have to work harder. It's hard to play tag when there's only two of them, but all Clark has to do is get to the tire swing.

It's too easy. He can feel it in his impossibly strong bones. Well, they're not really impossibly strong, but they will be as long as he keeps drinking his milk like he's supposed to. Maybe, if he's lucky, when he grows up he'll be as tall and strong as his dad. Of course that doesn't seem so likely right now, cos he's actually kind of short, but his mom says that's normal for boys his age.

At least he's not the shortest in his class like Greg; Clark thinks that that would really suck. But back to the matter at hand, because he's getting sidetracked and his mom says that you should always focus on what you're doing. So he's just going to move a little bit.

The grass is growing, the sun is shining: there's not a peep for as far as Clark's eight year old ears can tell. Well, except for the sound of him trying very hard not to breathe so loud because that'll give his hiding spot away. But if he doesn't run now then he'll never get there, and he'll be late for dinner again, and they're having Jell-O. The red kind. That's his favorite. Maybe if he's lucky his mom put pineapples in it. He really likes that, and he's never going to get there if he just doesn't move. So, here goes.


"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" and there he goes like the flash of lighting that his mom says he is when he's trying not to take a bath. He's almost there. He can see the Goodyear sign on the tire, like the ones on his dad's truck.

Please please please don't let his laces come untied.

"Gotcha!" And down he goes, knees right into a puddle of mud, laces automatically coming untied. For an eight year-old, Pete's really good with the tackling thing. It must come with all the older brothers at home. Clark wishes he had an older brother to teach him things like that.

"Aw, Pete," Clark says, rolling over after Pete climbs off him and gets to his feet, huge smile in place and looking for all the world like he just got a brand-new toy.

"I thought you were never gonna run for it," he says, wiping muddy hands on his pants and leaving smears over once-clean denim. "You were practically dead out there in the glass, acting like you'd fallen asleep again."

Clark pouts as he scrambles to his feet, ignoring the wet spots on the knees of his jeans. "That only happened once."

"Yeah, but it was funny, with the daisies and stuff." Greg and Pete had taken it upon themselves to decorate Clark when they found him sleeping in the west field, and they had stuck flowers and bugs everywhere. The dirt had gotten into his ears, and it really hurt when his mom stuck all those Q-Tips in his ears trying to get it out.

"I can't believe you got me." Clark stomps on the ground, as though that's really going to change anything. It's a good thing that Pete doesn't notice the way his foot goes a bit far into the ground. It's just the mud. Of course. "That sucks."

"That's life, Clark," Pete says, shrugging his shoulders, but looking far from apologetic. He slaps Clark on the back, and shakes his head just the way Clark's seen Pete's brother, Mike, do when he tells Pete he's too small to tag along.

"Geez, Pete. That's what my mom says," Clark says, squirming away from Pete's arm, and looking at him like he's just said he likes girls or something equally wrong.

Girls, yuck.

"Yours too?" Pete shakes his head sadly, before looking at the sun going down, and nodding towards Clark's house. "We're gonna be late for dinner."

"I know," Clark says, bending down to tie his shoelace. Standing back up he grins at his friend. "C'mon, I'll race you back to the farm."

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