1. The RETURN
"The icy clamp of winter, or the radiant New Hampshire summers, were more characteristic of it-but this day it blew wet, moody gusts all around me. " (Knowles, 10).
Today I returned to my old school Devon. Time seemed not to weather the stairs or knock down the tree. The rain was coming down. Fog covered the river and masked the tree from any outside view. You had to get right up to it so that its height domineered over you. As I walked around I began to remember the moments from my time at the school. The one most clear in my mind was when Finny convinced me to jump off that tree. I had been reluctant to do it at the time, but I was convinced. I did it and Finny accepted me as his own, but we were late for dinner. We ran to the school but he made fun of my stride. I don’t see anything wrong with being orderly, but Finny’s way does seem appealing.
2. Life saved
“If Finny hadn't come up right behind me...if he hadn't been there...I could have fallen on the bank and broken my back.” (Knowles 32)
We had missed dinner the night before but I wasn't too worried. When we were asked, I told them what we did and I saw Gene grimace as I told Mr. Prud'homme that we had jumped off the tree. I just talked about how it might help prepare us for the war, and no punishments were handed out. I received my “emblem” from my Ma, but I don't think Gene approves of the pink color. We also got news that the allied forces had bombed Central Europe for the first time. I don't know if I believe that though. We decided to form a special group called the Super suicide society of the summer session. As we were up in the tree preparing to jump off, Gene slipped and I grabbed a hold of him before he fell.
3. The Blitz
“‘I know I kinda dragged you away at the point of a gun, but after all you can't come by yourself, and at this teen-age period of life the proper person is your best pal.’ He hesitated and then added, ‘which is what you are,’ and here was silence on his dune.” (Knowles 48)
I was getting bored of our same old activities at the school and I decided it was time to do something about that. Blitzball is my new creation and I was able to make the whole game up on the go. I'm very good at it as well since I made sure the game played towards my strengths athletically. Also I tried to beat the swimming record today. Just me and Gene were there but I beat that swimming record. I hadn't prepared for it at all and I just decided to give it a try. Gene wanted to go tell everyone and have them time me to get a plaque on the wall. Hopkins Parker can keep his plaque. I just wanted to do it for fun and see if it was something that I could accomplish. I made Gene promise he wouldn't tell anyone. Besides real swimming is in the ocean which is where we went afterwards.
4. The Rival
“Finny had deliberately set out to wreck my studies. That explained blitzball, that explained the nightly meetings of the Super Suicide Society, that explained his insistence that I share all of his diversions. The way I believed that you're my best friend blabber!” (Knowles 53).
I finally figured out why we have been having these nightly meetings for the super suicide society and why Finny has been taking me places like the beach. He is trying to sabotage my school work. He is trying to get me to take part in his games just so he can lower my grades. He only acts to be my best friend so he can ruin me. There is in fact a rivalry between us. I can't let him know that I have figured out his plan. I must act like everything's normal so he doesn't get suspicious. Leper said he was going to jump off the tree and although I knew he wouldn't, Finny got me to go along anyways. When we were at the tree, he suggested we make a double jump and as we were moving towards the end of the limb, I made a decision that I regret now. I jounced the limb and Finny fell off the limb and landed awkwardly on the bank of the river.
"Of course you didn't do it. You damn fool. Sit down, you damn fool." (Knowles, 70).
I woke up in the hospital bed wondering what had happened. Then it all came rushing back to me. I had fallen from that tree as Gene and I were preparing for our double jump. I had lost my balance and I remember looking up at Gene’s shocked expression as I plummeted to the ground. As he came into my hospital room, he had that same shocked look on his face. He tried to tell me something but the doctor walked in before he could tell me. Later on, he came to visit me in my house. He told me that he jounced the limb and that he caused me to fall off. I told him that he was a damn fool and said I didn't believe him. I know that our friendship is better than that, and I know he wouldn't do that to me. As he was leaving the house, I asked if he said he was going to be a rule follower, he said “Oh no I wouldn't do that,”. He returned to Devon and I was left there at my house.
6. Part of Phineas
"I fought that battle, that first skirmish of a long campaign, for Finny. " (Knowles, 79).
My room has felt empty as Finny hasn't returned to Devon. The young teachers had all gone off to the war and we were left with old unrelatable teachers. Quackenbush was the new crew manager and there was something wrong about him. Our personalities were so different and I could tell from the beginning that we wouldn't like one another. I had signed up to be the assistant which was unusual for a senior to take. As I was trying to be helpful and grow towels, he insulted me saying I couldn't carry many towels. He began to make fun of Finny and he called me maimed. At that moment I hit him as hard as I could in the face. I was battling for Finny but I'm sure he wouldn't be thankful that I had hit someone for him. The teachers arrived and I got in big trouble for this incident. I was defending Finny’s honor though. Finny and I talked and we discussed sports. Since he can no longer play them, we decided I would just play them for him. I had become a part of Phineas.
7. He Returns
"Everything that had happened throughout the day faded like that first false snowfall of the winter. Phineas was back. " (Knowles, 102).
Brinker brought me down to a place known as the butt room and tried to get me to confess that I had intentionally hurt Finny. I told them, that I had stolen his money, blackmailed his parents, had love with his sister, and pushed him off the tree. They realized my sarcasm and I walked out claiming I needed to study my French. There was a big snowstorm and we spent our day shoveling off the snow from the train tracks so the trains could get through. Leper began to talk about a beaver dam and he seemed pretty interested in it and went looking for it. After we had finished shoveling the tracks, he returned and said he had found the dam. Also a train came through the tracks in which we had just cleared. It was a troop train filled with soldiers heading off to fight in the war. As they passed we cheered and shouted. Brinker told me that he was done and that was going to enlist. After I went back to the dorms, I heard a knock on the door and I walked up and opened the knob. Finny was back.
"'What makes you so special? Why should you get it and all the rest of us be in the dark?' The momentum of the argument abruptly broke from his control. His face froze. 'Because I've suffered,' he burst out" (116, Knowles).
I had finally returned to the school, as winter had taken over and there was snow and ice everywhere. When Gene and I were in our room, Brinker came in and asked Gene if he was ready to enlist. It was the first I was hearing about this and Gene was trying to tell me his plan. I knew I needed Gene and I didn't want him to go. I made sure I responded with little enthusiasm. Much to my relief, Gene told Brinker he no longer wanted to enlist. Afterwards we begin to joke and give Brinker names such as “Yellow Peril” Hadley. As we headed to our first class, I suggested we skip so I could get a chance to look around after my long absence. We went to the gym, and into the locker rooms. I asked Gene what sport he had joined and when he said he hadn't done anything I was very disappointed. He tried to say that the war was making sports unimportant but I don't think there is a war. It's all a conspiracy by fat, old, rich men that are trying to keep young people in their place. After an awkward silence, Gene began to do chin-ups. He did 30 and I decided that I was going to train him to compete in the 1944 Olympics.
9. Enlistment and festivities
"'You know what? I'm almost glad this war came along. It's like a test, isn't it, and only the things and the people who've been evolving the right way survive. '" (125, Knowles).
To everyone's surprise, Leper decided to enlist in the army with the ski-troops. It made the war seem more unreal to Gene. They began to tie Leper to every event that the allied forces did. When they heard there was an assassination attempt on Hitler, they believed that Hitler was involved. I refused to believe these as I think there is no war. Gene and I spend less time in the butt room where they discuss these events and we begin to focus on his Olympic training. One day, I decided that Devon should have its own winter carnival we set up games and sports and music from Chet Douglass. We had a lot of hard cider that Brownie Perkins was able to sneak out. We had the ski jump and other activities and even performed a dance on my good leg. Gene performed a series of events to demonstrate his athleticism and his Olympic training I have given him. Amid our carnival, Brownie comes out from the dorms and has a telegram. It was from Leper saying that he had escaped and that he wanted to meet with Gene.
10. The Psycho
"Laughing and crying he lay with his head on the floor and his knees up, '...always were a savage underneath.'" (145, Knowles).
I decided to enlist in the army after that recruiter showed the video. After I saw some familiarity with the ski-troops, I thought I should join. When Gene arrived at my house, I led him not the dinning room. As Gene is trying to have a conversation, he asked me how long I will be home. I won't be going back. I left before they could discharge me for being a psycho. Gene lashed at he and I told he was a savage and always has been. Gene then knocks over my chair, and leaves me lying there in hysterics. My mom comes down and Gene tried to explain himself. Gene stayed for lunch he eats a ton of food and afterwards we take a walk. I begin to tell Gene of moments in the war when I was having psychotic images such as a man turning into a woman and a broom stick being an amputated leg. Gene tells me to shut up and says he doesn't want to hear it anymore. He ran away, back into town.
11. Finny's fall
"'And you told me about Leper, that he's gone crazy. When I heard about Leper, then I knew that the war was real, this war and all the wars. If a war can drive somebody crazy, then it's real all right. Oh I guess I always knew, but I didn't have to admit it. '" (Knowles, 163).
I returned to Devon after my visit with Leper in Vermont. As I walked back through the school grounds, I saw the other students in the middle of a snowball fight. I stood watching it unfold as I didn't really want to talk about Leper. I turned to walk away when Finny threw a snowball that struck me in the back of the head. I stalled talking about Leper until the other team got closer to us and we had to fire snowballs back at them. When I talked to Finny afterwards, I told him to make sure he didn't injure his leg again, he just said that it grew back stronger and that he won't hurt it again. We talked about Leper and how the war had affected him and made him go insane. Brinker told me that I must help Finny accept that he won't be able to fight or play sports again as I must be realistic in what he can do. Late at night, Brinker and a few other students got us out of bed and took us to the assembly room. He said he needed to figure out what happened, but it was really an interrogation to attempt to prove my guilt. Finny made up a story about how I wasn't even in the tree and that he just lost his balance. Then the boys remembered that Leper had been there. They found him wandering the school grounds and brought him into the room. He said that they were both up on the limb of the tree but he couldn't see who was in front of the other because of the sun. He said that the figures both moved causing one of them to lose their balance. Leper started yelling as he believed he was only being used since it happened to suit what Brinker wanted, and that everyone takes him for a fool. Finny had gotten up, he said he just didn't care began to scream at Brinker as he raced out of the room. The acoustics in the room helped us hear his rushing steps and then the tumbling of his body down the marble staircase.
12. Blind Impulse
"'Why do you think I kept saying there wasn't any war all winter? I was going to keep on saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chungking or some place saying, 'Yes, you can enlist with us'. '" (Knowles, 190).
We rushed to get Phil Latham the wrestling coach and Dr. Stanpole. I rusehed back into the assembly room and found a blanket which Phil Latham wrapped around a Finny which I would have liked to do myself but I knew he would be better off if I stayed out of the way. Dr. Stanpole told me that it was the leg again but this time it was a much cleaner break. They put Finny in the doctor's car and took him to the infirmary. After the doctor and Phil had left, I opened the window and realized once he knew it was me, he tried to come after me but his leg was bounded. I told him I wanted to fix his leg up and he attempted to come after me again. I left him alone and wandered around the school, before I finally fell asleep under the stadium. I went back to my dorm but there was a note from Dr. Stanpole asking me to bring a Finny his clothes and toiletry items. I packed up his suitcase and headed to the infirmary where me and Finny came to the conclusion that I had only made him fall because there was some impulse and not a built up hatred towards him. Finny told me that the reason he said there was no war was because nobody would accept him into the army due to his leg. Dr. Stanpole told me to be back at around 5 when Finny’s anaesthesia had worn off. The rest of my day went quickly and I returned to the infirmary. As Dr. Stanpole walked out he looked at me and told me that Finny was dead. The marrow of his bone had been released into his blood and gone to his heart. I didn't cry, I never did, because a part of me died with him. His funeral was my own.
13. The War
"I never killed anybody and I never developed an intense hatred for the enemy. Because my war ended before I ever put on a uniform; I was on active duty all my time at school; I killed my enemy there. " (Knowles, 204).
Jeeps and trucks full of troops arrived at Devon. Brinker’s dad was asking us what we were enlisting in and as I told him, I was going to wait and get drafted but I figured they would put me in the infantry so instead I decided I was going to be part of the navy. Brinker was heading to become part of the coast guard and you could see the disappointment in his dad’s face. Brinker's dad said that you have to make sure what you are doing is right in the long run and not just right in the moment. His dad told us to not get too comfortable and that the older guys were jealous that we got to go to the war. He said that if you want to have a military record to be proud of, you have to do more than just what you have to do. After his dad left, Brinker was angry as he said his generation caused the war and now we were the ones that had to fight it. Nobody ever talked about Finny, but I lived in the atmosphere he helped create everyday. In the war, I never developed a bitter hatred for the enemy or killed anyone, because my war had started at school. And I had already killed my enemy.
Sean Bowers and Connor Kimble
- Ski Poles
- Snowy hill or mountain
- 6 people
Goal: Skiers get the ball to the bottom of the slope without the ball hitting the ground
- 3 skiers start at the top of the slope, 3 tacklers stand to either side of their path
- Skiers start going down and may pass the ball between themselves
- The tacklers try to tackle the skiers but may not bat the ball out of the skiiers’ hands
- If the ball hits the ground, one of the five chances has been used up
- After five tries, skiers count their successes and the teams switch
- After each team gets 3 rounds skiing, the highest score wins