• Keri Heath

Swinging

As a kid, I used to love the swings. The elementary school had a raised pad filled with wood chips and fenced with beams to keep the swings in. If you faced forward, you could look out over the whole playground and the field to the right and the blacktop up the slope where kids skipped rope and played hopscotch. If you faced backward, you could look at the chain fence that separated the playground from the forest of cedar and oak trees beyond.


Some kids would dip into the woods through the hole in the fence - there was always one, which moved around as the teachers found it and patched it. But I never went with the other kids; I was afraid of getting in trouble. I don't remember how far they got, but I used to wonder about their adventures. When I look at the wood now on Google Earth, I see a little pond not far from the school. I would have liked the pond.

I wonder if the other kids set up a colony at the water's edge, declared one of them a king or queen and started conquering the rest of the wood. Maybe they broke off into factions when they didn't see eye-to-eye about how to run their pond-based empire and had terrible, divisive battles. Maybe they set up their own economy, trading Pokemon cards for fruit snacks or buying crazy pens from each other. Maybe they ventured to the bottom of the pond and found an entire civilization of tiny fish people living among the pondweed and were changed forever by meeting them.

I'll never know.

Perhaps if I'd just swung a little higher, I would have seen the lake. I could have been like a witch, watching their silly wars and arguments from my broomstick above - except it would be from my swing. I could have called my commands down to them. Do as I say and conquer the lands by the crooked cedar tree or I'll rain rotten eggs down upon you! Ahahaha! They would have bowed to my command. I'd be their god.

But I couldn't swing that high, so I wasn't.

I was god only of my own world on this particular swing set. The wind rushed through my hair and rustled my clothes. From the back peak of my swing's parabola, I'd plunge through the air, my stomach rushing up to my throat. Then, at the top of the arch, I'd hover there for a moment, the recess kingdom lying before me, and for one second, I'd be above it all, before I went plunging back to earth.

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