Growing Up

She sits and swings on the lone swing in the playground. I see her there every afternoon walking home from school.

No one uses the playground now except her. The fence is broken and the woodchips on the ground are rotted and slick. Jagged pieces of metal and cement blocks hint slides and monkey bars used to be there. The double rusty swing set with one swing broken and the chains creaking is all that remains against the backdrop of ivy-riddled woods overtaking the land beyond the fence.

When I was a child I used to go there to play. By the time I was walking to middle school and my parents began to yearn for the sea, it was gone, a ruined splotch of earth.

That was when the girl appeared, swinging, swinging, on the fading blue swing.

She watches me with keen eyes hollow with wistfulness. I try to speak to her when I find the courage, but she never answers. I think she is mute. Her silence intimidates me.

The swing creaks. Like my home, it has not fallen apart yet, but it should have.

I stop on the sidewalk one afternoon. I do not want the sea air or crying waves. My parents do. I watch the girl swing. She adds certainty to life. The air is heavy. My heart is heavier. I move tomorrow. My life is packed in a dozen cardboard boxes and a dented old tin.

I watch the girl swing. There is an art to her rocking back and forth. Her feet leave the ground. The swing set collapses. Its rusted legs give way, crumple in on each other, and lie groaning in the wind.

The girl picks herself up slowly. She brushes the woodchips off her knees. She touches the rusted metal and looks at her swing. The chains have snapped off the seat.

She looks up at me.

She slowly fades.

Photo by Lisa Bresler on Unsplash

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40 thoughts on “Growing Up

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  1. This is such a beautifully written story! It is so thought provoking and nostalgic, thank you for sharing this! I hope you have a happy and healthy new year! I look forward to reading your new work in 2021 (& beyond!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a brilliant piece of writing and so evocative! The image of the girl on the swing brought back so many memories while moving when I was younger and leaving behind a place I was very fond of. It’s the first time that I get to your blog and will surely follow. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is such a powerful and thought provoking piece Jaya. I always joy reading your content. Happy new year to you, I hope this year is an amazing and successful one for you. Hopefully this year will be a lot safer and happier for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, such a powerful piece! I see the little girl as a memory or maybe nostalgia? The endings of your stories always sends shivers down my spine!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh wow, Jaya, I was not expecting that ending! What a beautiful piece of writing. I wasn’t sure if she was a ghost or a childhood memory but reading your response to Nancy I’m glad I picked up on both elements ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt that loneliness from this – sometimes having to be on my own because there was a misunderstanding of when to be picked up lol. But children like this learn how to be more independent, unfortunately. Though, this story is trippy! Is she a ghost after all or a memory! Great job on this short story too!

    Nancy โœจ

    Liked by 2 people

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