The woods are gone.
Across from the football field and track, the trees grew in abundance. A few metres from the north end of the track is where the woods began. There wasn't much to it: a dense thicket of trees and shrubs, a chain-link fence, a creek, and then the upwards slope to Highway 5.
There wasn't much to do in those woods. Sometimes, my friends—David, Sandra, and Christine—and I would go there. We would talk, make jokes. David, who was my friend despite joking at the fact that I was much shorter than the others, that my growth spurt was lagging, had a nickname for me: Ratchet. I liked to think that he called me that because it was a very handy tool to have in your toolbox, but I didn't like being thought of as a tool.
But he wasn't calling me by the name of a tool. He was shortening what he was really saying: rat shit.
We were good friends, Dave and I.
The woods were where the four of us could get away from the other students in our year. The woods were later a place to where my girlfriend and I could later hide. In the late months of the school year, toward the summer holiday, Joy and I would go there and mess around.
But the woods are gone now, replaced by a massive concrete structure. I used to think it was a giant skateboard park, with all of its graffiti. But it was too huge. I'm still not sure what it is: a reservoir, or culvert. Reagn Serny, it reads. A bike path cuts behind and follows the 5 up that steep rise above Gatineau.
There are still some trees that separate Philemon Wright High School from the highway, but the part I knew, the section where I spent my free time with friends and lovers, is gone.