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    Timing, precision, balance, bravery. That’s all you really need right? Many people would think differently, they’d think you need more. In Aligreen, that’s all you really need. Every year, sixteen year olds need to complete a series of two challenges. The rope of balance and the lake of creatures.


Formed in a line with all the other possible sixteen-year-old contestants of that year, you have to stand before the king’s wife, Queen Quechua. I looked down at my left hand and remembered the time that my older sister, Delilah, accidentally tripped with scissors in her hand and the scissors went into my hand. I twirled the back of my short brown hair and looked back up as Queen Quechua started talking.


“Today, some of you will embark on a journey that will forever change you. You’ll start here, at the lake of creatures. The objective is to make it to the other side of the lake with your partners but beware, it’s challenging,” The Queen said. I could see the parents behind Queen Quechua waiting to say goodbye to their children, possibly forever. “You’ll be allowed one pack each. In the pack is all the food and water you’ll need. I’ll now call names for your partners. Once you hear your name, either get into a canoe or join your partner.” She paused and took out a small, white, piece of paper. “Beatrice Lopez, Theodore Perez, Holly Moore, Jose Ramirez, Filipe David, and Victoria Rancho. Good luck contestants,” I could barely see Queen Quechua’s face through the fog as she stepped down from the bright pink stage she was on.


The lake of creatures. Theo’s been my best friend for as long as I can remember so I know I can trust him. He’s really skinny and much taller than me. He has short brown hair that he wears with bangs and very tan skin. We got into the canoe. How hard can it really be to get across a lake? We started floating in the water. Theo was rowing and I was holding the pack. We were right next to each other and yet, neither of us spoke.


“Beatrice? What’s that in the water?” Theo asked me. I looked over the boat and the water looked grey. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked down at the water and saw a creature that I thought only existed in stories, The Spanish Treher.


“The Spanish Treher,” I whispered. It was a monster like an eel, but much larger. It swam away. In the distance, I saw the Spanish Treher eat a boat with two of the other contestants, Felipe David, and Victoria Rancho. They’re gone, forever. “Theo, row faster,” I knew the next bit of the challenge would go by in a blur but I couldn’t help but wonder, what if it was us? We got to the end of the lake. I never thought I’d make it out alive. Onto the next one.


The rope of balance. A simple challenge. All you have to do is take a rickety ladder across a deep canyon with monsters below. The ladder has many twists and turns making it difficult not to fall. If you didn’t fail at the first challenge, you’d most likely fail at this. Only one team can make it off the rope of balance. To get there, you need to take a ten-minute hike on foot. When we got there, I felt scared.


I looked out from where Theo and I were standing. It was so foggy that you couldn’t see three feet out. The ladder looked incredibly dangerous. I walked out a little more. I grabbed onto it and started going after Theo did. A few minutes later, I heard something. It was a scream from a girl, Holly Moore. She must’ve slipped. I closed my eyes and tried to keep going. One of the parts of the ladder wasn't there. I could feel my hand slipping and then my entire body was. The only thing keeping me from falling was my other hand. It was still holding onto the ladder.


“Beatrice!” Theo screamed as he turned around to face me. He held out his hand for my fallen hand to grab onto. I tried but couldn’t reach. I tried again and I did it. I could see how he couldn’t bear the weight of both of us, we are both sixteen after all. I got back on the ladder.


“Are you okay?” He asked in a quieter voice.


“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Just get to the other side,” I could see the end in the distance. Happiness flooded my body. I knew I had to finish this to get back to my family. “Theo, I see the end,”


“I do too,” We climbed as fast as we both possibly could. I got to the end. It was like a weight had been lifted off of my chest. We entered a cave and lights turned on. Queen Quechua and King Idris were in the middle of the room.


“Theodore Perez and Beatrice Lopez. Definitely not the group I expected. Congratulations, you’ve now completed The 183rd Annual Aligreen Games. How do you feel?” She smiled as if she was happy. I thought a Queen was supposed to care for her people, not force teenagers through these types of challenges.


“Horrified,” Theo responded with. His hair was really messy. I couldn’t imagine mine was any better. That was all I looked at, Theo’s hair, not Queen Quechua.


“That’s too bad,” Queen Quechua pouted. “Waiting outside this lovely gold encrusted cave, is a limo to take you back to your families. Great job, children,” I nearly ran for my life. I couldn’t believe that they made us do that awful competition and now it’s over, just like that. The limo was a beautiful shiny black color with a nice ornament on the hood. It looked magnificent. Theo opened the door.


“Beatrice Lopez,” He said, gentlemanly. I smiled. “Get in,” We both burst out giggling. It’s nice to know that after a terrible event like that, there can be laughter and joy. Maybe Theo and I are stronger than we thought. My parents and Delilah ran out of the house. I opened the door to the limo and ran out to them.


“Beatrice! You’re okay!” My mother wrapped her hands around me. I couldn’t really breath. Delilah was next to hug me.


“Beatrice, did Theo make it?” Delilah asked.


“Yes, we made it out as a team,” I said. My little brother, Elliot came out of the house with my baby sister Clementine and handed her to me. I was so happy to be surrounded by my entire family that I didn’t even think about the other contestants. Felipe, Victoria, Holly, and Jose will never be able to go home to their families. Theo was still in the limo with the door open, watching us. I turned to him. “Theo, come here!”


“Little Theo Perez?” My mother asked.


“Yes, Mother. Without Theo, I would never have survived the challenge. Theo grabbed my arm when I was falling off the rope of balance,” I turned to Theo. “Thanks by the way,”


“It’s nothing,” Theo shrugged and looked to his side. I walked towards him.


“No, Theo. It’s everything. You saved my life,” I said. I wrapped my arms around him, and he wrapped his around me. “Thank you,” I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks.


“You’re welcome,” Theo pulled me off of him gently and looked at me, right in the eyes. He had to look down to make eye contact with me. “You will be okay, Beatrice. You know it and I know it,”


“Maybe I will be,” And that was the end of that day. I’ve changed so much and I hadn’t even realized it until then. Theo was right, I was going to be okay, it just took a little bit of time.


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