There was once a little playground in a city park that had a rather interesting life. Of course, it always had the daylight visitors. It had scores of children from the smallest ones in strollers, to the biggest ones that spent most of their time on the basketball court. The playground was happy during the day when it was listening to the laughter and play of the children, but what the playground really waited for each day was the night. After all of the kids went home to play at their own homes and sleep in their own comfy beds, the others came out to play.
This had happened for as long as the playground could remember. Ever since it had been nothing more than a single set of climbing bars, the others had came out at night and played. At first, it had just been one or two, but as time went on, more and more began to show up. When the playground began to grow, adding slides, swings, merry-go-rounds, and entire play sets, the type of “other” started to change, as well.
At first, the only others that showed up were small and furry, with big bushy tails. However, when the rest of the others came out, the playground realized that it was in for a major treat because each of the different type of other would play with the playground in different ways. Being played with in inventive ways always made the playground very happy and the variety of others never failed to come up with imaginative ways to play. Each type of other would usually stick to a single type of playground equipment, but they would often run around just to see what everyone else was doing. This ensured that there was always a flurry of activity happening and the playground wished desperately that it could join in with this interesting play, but it never could. So it settled for watching the play of these strange others.
The small others that had green skin and the hard shells tended to stay on the merry-go-round because they really liked the feeling of going fast. The others with the feathers would usually spend the night playing on the swings, for they were amazed that they could breeze through the air without even having to lift their wings. They even liked the feeling of going backwards, and there was only one type of them that could fly backwards, but it was usually too tired by the time the nighttime came to play. There was even a nightly race between two tiny others down the slide. The playground was confused by these two because even though they looked almost entirely alike, and they even left the same trail behind them, one of them had what looked like a hard little house on its back and the other one didn’t. Even though the one other had the extra burden, the two would usually end their race neck and neck, that is, if others such as that could be said to have necks.
Still more types of others came as the variety of playground equipment grew. When the full play sets went in, the first few nights all the different types of others would run around them and play together when they found things that they all liked to play with. After they realized that they had fun playing together, the playground was just as likely as not to see different types of others playing together, not only in the play sets, but also on the regular playground equipment. There were rarely disputes involving who could play with what bit of equipment and when, but the few times when there were questions, all of the others would come together and try to solve the problem. Usually, the others that both wanted to play on the same bit of equipment were asked to play with different others, which left the disputed piece of equipment empty for a moments time. This emptiness never lasted long, however, as there were always more others to play on them.
The others always made sure that they kept an eye to the sky because they always made sure that they were gone by the time the sun came up. This confused the playground because it believed that the kids that came to the playground in the morning would have a wonderful time with the others, and the others would have a wonderful time showing the kids the different ways to play on the equipment. However, the only others that the playground would see throughout the days were the ones with the bushy tails and the ones with the feathers. This made the playground sad because it always worried about its friends, even if it didn’t quite know what they were.
Then, one day, something happened that frightened the playground quite badly. There had been a play set that had fallen into disrepair and had been roped off, but now it was being taken down instead of fixed. This worried the playground because it knew that if this bit of equipment could go, then the rest of it could go, too. If that happened, then the kids would no longer come to play, nor would any of the others. This thought made the playground quite upset, but there was nothing that it could do to feel better, nor could anything else be done, since no one really knows how to comfort a playground. So it tried to focus on the playing of the others and hoped that the now empty spot didn’t mean that more emptiness would soon come.
The playground shouldn’t have worried because two days later, a crew of adults came to the playground carrying large bundles of wood that could only be more playground equipment. This excited the playground and it couldn’t wait to see what type of equipment this would be, since it didn’t look like anything else that it currently had. Over the course of three days, the shape started to make itself known. It was a train! The train wasn’t set upon a track, but that hardly mattered because it would be run on imagination. The playground would see to that! The final touch was a sign on the side of the train the proclaimed it the Rucker Express. The playground wondered who this Rucker was, but was too happy to have a train to give it much thought. The train wasn’t too long, it only had the engine, and two small cars for carrying passengers, but it was plenty big enough to fit all of the others.
Once the night finally came, all of the others came to see what this new thing in the playground was, and when they found a finished train they all climbed aboard. As they were sitting there admiring how wonderful the train was, the playground shared a surprise that it had been saving for its strange friends. The others realized that they felt like they were moving even though there was no track to speak of. At first they were startled, until they realized that the playground was finally playing with them by using its own imagination to join in with their play. As bad as the playground had wanted to join into their play, they had wanted the playground to join just as badly, yet neither could figure out how to make it happen. The Rucker Express made this all possible and they all looked forward to the times that they could spend on it. Of course, they still played on the rest of the equipment, and they still ran around watching each other play, but each of the others made sure that they spent a little of each night traveling the imagination of the playground via the Rucker Express. They carry on that way still.
© Copyright 2017 CharlesLeeMcCabe. All rights reserved.
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