A/N: This is more of a novella 'cause I'm apparently pretty bad at keeping things short. It's sort of a relfection, too, so the present tense (e.g. I remember, etc.) is intentional; if you make it to the end, hopefully it'll be cleared up. Any suggestions, errors, or whatnot, feel free to give 'em; it's never too late to fix something. Anyways, thank you for reading; I hope you enjoy :)
Whenever I was sad, I went to the place where dad used to bring me. When we were there, nothing bad could happen because he was watching over me and he’d never let me get hurt.
But maybe he isn’t, I remember thinking, the cool wind leaving an icy path as tears streamed my cheeks. My cheeks were pink from the cold, my right one stinging from the slap my mother had given me—but it wasn’t her fault. She missed him, too.
I used to wonder if I should bring her with me, so she could be close to dad, but a little voice inside my head just told me she wouldn’t come.
He’s gone! She’d tell me, sounding so angry and loud, usually crying.
Sometimes, I believed her. I’d been hurting a lot lately and dad never let me get hurt. Mom was upset, too, and he hated to see her like that. She cried a lot, sometimes shouting and screaming; always drinking from those bottles she seemed to have an endless supply of.
Other times, she’d hit me. I never thought it was her fault, though I wished she would just stop, so we could hurt together.
As the cold, icy wind blew past me, I wiped the wet from my cheeks, feeling elation and hope fill my chest at the sight of the old, rusty, blackened bars. Even the shivers that ran through me couldn’t stop my happiness, because I was okay:
Dad was here.
The playground was the place I went to when I was sad. It wasn’t just any playground, nor was it the playground as a whole, but more so the red swing set, with two swings side by side, little links joining the seats to the bars. Dad used to push me high, but not too high—he never wanted me to fall. If we were alone, he’d sing me a song.
This was the place where I felt safe.
Though it was dark, I easily found the swing set, but I wasn’t alone. A boy was sitting on one, but it wasn’t my one, which I was glad for, because I’d have hated to have had to ask him to move. He was about my age—seven—and looked upset, though he wasn’t crying. You don’t have to cry to be sad, but the tears usually come.
I remember wondering who he was: his head was tilted down, his black hair blowing in the breeze, but he wasn’t swinging. Even though I didn’t know him, I didn’t want him to be alone—maybe we can hurt together, I remember thinking as I made my way over to him, wiping the tears from my cheeks.
He didn’t look up, nor did he say a word as I sat down on my swing. I didn’t, either; just stared at the ground where dad used to stand, pretending to run for cover as I’d kick my feet at him. To this day, I can still hear his laughter; the warm, joyous and cheerful sound that echoed around me that night. It brought a smile to my lips.
But the boy wasn’t smiling. He was still staring at the ground, like he didn’t have a happy memory to make him smile.
I remember feeling sorry for him, wanting to cheer him up, even though I wasn’t very upbeat myself. I pushed my swing backwards a little bit—just the slightest bit, but it caught his attention. He looked up at me; caught my eyes with his beautiful blue ones that had me lost, even when I was seven.
I remember the tension in the air that night. I was worried—was he going to swing? Would he get up and leave, angry at me for interrupting him? It was palpable—as thick as it can be between two children and a swing set, anyway—but I can picture the smile he gave me even now, for it haunted me each and every night, and I wanted to know more about this boy who looked so sad.
He was the boy who wiped my tears; who held my hand and swung with me when I needed someone to. We swung high and in sync with each other, stopping when the other lost their velocity or stumbled slightly, not wanting the other to be on their own—not anymore.
I don’t know how long we swung for—be it minutes or hours, we flew side by side, the creaky chains the only sound around us. We didn’t speak, nor did we laugh or cry, just let our bodies and movements do the talking, for words weren’t needed.
I knew our time had to come to an end, but when we slowed down, our swings swaying slightly in the breeze, I felt a piece of me go with him when he left. It was the first of many pieces of me he took, and with the space around me and the swing by my side empty, I remember thinking, I miss him.
To this day, whether I was referring to him or my dad, I have yet to find out.
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