It was a quiet summer day in the town of Sunnydale, TX. The birds sang in the trees and the sun shone softly onto the wide streets of a neighborhood in the east of town called Lake Forest. It was on days like these that the children of the historians that lived on Primrose Court decided to play a game they invented.
Anne, their youngest daughter, was in the oak tree armed with a Nerf gun as her older brother, Thomas pedaled past on a Big Wheel that was much too small for him. She steadied her gun, took aim and fired. The bullet flew and hit Thomas, and he pulled over.
That was the cue for her brothers to run down the street, shouting, “The Archduke is dead! War is declared!” and making a huge ruckus with pots and pans so that all of the neighborhood kids would know it was time to play. Slowly but surely, the kids filed out of the houses and assembled into ranks.
“Davis! Thomsen! Sorenson!” Thomas barked at three groups of children who had assembled. “Y’all take the Eastern Front.”
The group of children ran down Primrose Court and got into battle formation.
“Smith, Roe, O’Donaghue!” Anne barked. “Western Front! To the trenches!”
“Annie, you can’t do that,” Thomas said. “You were the Serbian.”
“So? Serbians can muster armies as well!”
“Go home, Annie. We agreed that the Serbian wouldn’t get to fight.”
“Fine,” Anne said, and sulked off.
Meanwhile, her second-oldest brother collected his army from the other side of the neighborhood in order to fight Thomas’ faction. He provided all of the boys and girls who were going to the Western Front with stink bombs and said, “Alright, ladies. Today we are the Central powers in Ypres, Belgium. The year is 1915. When I whistle, deploy the stink bombs.”
The children began to murmur amongst themselves. A veteran of the game piped up and asked, “Isn’t that a war crime, George? We could get disqualified.”
"War crime?" George asked. "It won’t hurt anybody. Besides, and this point in the game, the Geneva Convention outlawing chemical warfare hasn’t convened yet."
They reluctantly agreed and filed off to their positions.
The “Western Front” was an empty vacant lot that nobody had occupied for ten years. The siblings had spent all summer two years previous digging two sets of trenches and creating an authentic-looking no-man’s-land. The “Eastern Front”, on the other hand, was the entire rest of the neighborhood and kids engaged one another on bikes, Big Wheels and on foot. The rules were that if you were shot with a Nerf gun or some other weapon, then you were “dead.” There were about twenty kids on each side. On the “Eastern Front”, it was a game of Capture the Flag crossed with a Nerf war.
The kids filed into the “Western Front” and got into their trenches as the Allied Eastern Fronters raced past, screaming as a division of Central powers chased them down Primrose Lane.
The firing soon began. When George’s side began sustaining heavy casualties, he whistled bob-white and they engaged the stink bombs when the wind was right.
Thomas’ younger brother Adam was sitting in his trench when suddenly he was assailed by the most awful smell. The other people in his trench plugged their noses and cried, “Thomas, did you fart?”
"No," he said, then shouted, "George Jacob Crenwelge! War crimes!!"
George shouted back, “Geneva Convention hasn’t convened yet! All of you were hit with a weapon! We win!”
Thomas sighed and said, “I’ll see what Mom and Dad say.”
He ran off while the most beautiful girl Adam had ever seen appeared at the side of his trench. She had short brown hair and beautiful blue eyes.
"What game is this?" the girl asked. "Can I play?"
"It’s called World War One," George replied from across the Western Front. "And, of course you may play. Take Adam’s side. He’s right in front of you."
The girl slid into Adam’s trench, and he felt his throat tighten. “My name’s Marin,” she said. “You must be Adam.”
He gulped. She smelled like strawberries. He tried to speak, but no words came out. He felt a blush creeping up his cheeks.
"I love your hair," Marin said. "It’s all red and shiny, and your freckles are just darling."
Adam put his finger to his lips and motioned for her to get down. The warning was too late - a Nerf bullet popped her in the head as someone from the other side cried, “Tell your girlfriend she’s out, Adam!”
He pointed at the exterior of the trench and snapped his fingers. Marin looked downcast and left the trench. Adam wished he could’ve said something more charming, but he was deathly afraid of speaking to strangers, especially beautiful ones. He understood nearly every event in history, but girls escaped his knowledge.
"George," Thomas said. "Mom and Dad agree with you."
George pumped his fist.
Over the next few weeks, Marin joined the group and Adam fell more and more in love. Marin avoided him, lavishing her attention on his more outgoing brothers Thomas and George.
Marin thought that he was standoffish and rude, judging by the fact that he never spoke to anyone. But, she failed to realize that he was painfully shy. She also failed to see the adoration in his eyes when he looked at her.
Marin worked her way up the ranks of the Crenwelge Army on the side of the Allies, and a few months later gained an squad of her own. But, when someone decided to use pepper spray as their chemical weapon, “World War One” ended and the parents of the neighborhood held the equivalent of the Geneva Convention Thomas had been looking for.