There was a swath of dirt packed like limestone beneath the swing. A veil of loose dust blew over it. The dirt was the color of thirst. No water darkened it. It was a forgotten pair of tan khakis hanging in the back of the closet. The black rubber seat was thick and heavy. It smelled of warm chemicals and stuck to my legs like an internal organ or a tumor. It hung from chains crumbling with wet rust. The rust colored my palms red, and it made them smell like blood. I swung the way a child in a fairytale swings. The fairytale would begin, “And the little girl swung alone in her backyard for hours and hours on long summer days. Her family whispered about her from the kitchen window, and the neighbors looked at her with a quick flicker of worry in their eyes. She couldn’t be bothered. She kicked her legs wildly in the air to pull herself up, and she swung with such force that her bottom lifted out of the seat when the swing dropped her in between back and forth. She was airborne for a second before her bottom dropped back into the seat with a sharp bounce. The little girl swung and swung, her toes tapping the shingles on the roof of the house and lifting green leaves from the tops of the trees. One day, she swung so hard and for so long that she lifted right out of the swing and began to fly. She flew over the shuddering roof of her house, waving to her sisters who stood yowling like cats at the bedroom window. She tossed down a sweaty handful of quarters to the children looped around a tinkling ice cream truck, and she felt lighter so she flew a little faster. She circled trees and blew on their trunks to loosen the monkey balls. She flew over the cats and dogs roaming the neighborhood and sang lullabies to them. Her singing sounded clear and grownup in the wide blue sky. She skimmed the telephone wires with her fingertips, plucking out simple songs, and…”
That’s how the fairytale would begin. The real story just has me swinging alone for hours and hours. Someone should have taken the chains in both hands, stilled the twisting swing, and pulled my small body into a lap. They left me to swing alone in a wild sweat, and I suppose this was the kindness that life allowed them to show me. I passed hours swinging myself into a rhythm so that I couldn’t hear anything but chains clanking and wind building careful tunnels through my brain.