Some days when I get home from school and it’s really hot and I’m in my sports uniform I’ll ask mum if I can go down to the park. I’m ten now, and I can leave by myself and walk halfway down the street to the lot. I usually run. Hopefully it’s empty because I hate it when the swings are taken and I have to come back. I feel the sand jumping into my shoes and rubbing against my socks. It’s a comforting feeling and I take the swing I’ve known for as long as I can remember. I sit down and run back in the sand, giving myself a big head start then swinging into space. Cheers go up as the crowd sees me, an olympic gymnast going faster and higher, faster and higher. I swing forward, agile, aerodynamic, the long practiced perfect position for going faster. Legs in front together and pointed like a ballerina, my torso leant back and looking upwards to the green shade cloth. I reach the peak of the pendulum and immediately switch to legs bent, behind, my head tilted forward, the crowd silent in anticipation. I’m almost there, almost flying. I change again, the swing comes forward, I hear it, the rusty squeak, the strain of the metal chain bearing the pressure of my skilled display. “Creeeeeaaaaakkkk” I’m forward “Croaaaaaaaaaakkk” I’m backwards “Creeeeaaaakkk” forward again and finally a croak, as I fling myself from the air to a perfect landing, two feet pointed together, my hands in the air. I bow to the imaginary crowd.
I’m reminded of this whole fonanza when I come to the same park, this time in a shroud of darkness smoking a cigarette. I’m twenty two now and have been away from this place for nearly four years. Recently I’ve come home, much to the delight of my mother, however she doesn’t know I’m sat here, smoking. It must be past midnight, the street is empty and there is peace in this park. The sand is glowing in the moonlight and it’s cold against my bare feet. I sit on the swing, unable to resist the ingrained natural desire to swing higher and faster, higher and faster again. The same croaking sound reminds me of a simpler time, and I’m filled with joy. Everything has come full circle. The hardship of early adulthood, friends, relationships, the struggle hasn’t changed me. I’m still the same child on a swing urging to go higher, to see the stars, wondering about what UFOs are watching the skilled display.
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