A flurry of activity; it is perpetual motion in action. It’s early for a Saturday. Most of the time, they sleep in. But, I’m already getting a work out. I should have stretched… limbered up. I probably wouldn’t creak so much if I were prepared better. Or at least lubricated from time to time.
Hey, there’s Virginia with her daughter, Emily. They’re nice – gentle people. And that Emily? Light as a feather, she respects my power, as does her mother. Virginia propels Emily ever so softly, there is a loving caress in her hands as she catches her daughter and redirects her forward. And listen to her! Emily’s laughter is like the much-needed oil for my heavy chains. She squeals; she giggles. She cries out, “Faster Mommy. Higher Mommy”. But Virginia stays the pace; slow, gentle, caressing.
Oh, not you! Chucky Tanner has got to be the worst. Well, no, I’m being a bit unfair. I know he’s a good kid at heart. Why, the other day, no one was around to play. Emily and her mother were sharing their usual moments swinging when Chucky came by. Virginia said hello, as did Emily. Nervously, the freckle faced boy glanced around, and where he was sure no one saw him, he approached the two.
“Do you think I could push for a while?” Chucky offered.
Virginia did not hesitate. “That would be fine if you wouldn’t mind!
And Tanner stepped behind the little girl to offer tender nudges forward. Emily continued to giggle. Chucky was laughing. Virginia smiled. He wasn’t the incorrigible demon at all.
But he seems to leave his heart at home when his entourage is around. With friends like them… They prodded each other. Dares to do this, attempt that. Hardly playful, these boys were in need of a different kind of attention than they come to seek on this playground. Hurtful in a somewhat devious way, I wish Tanner had a backbone to stand up for himself.
This Gordon kid… they call him “Big ‘G’”… he’s one of Tanner’s antagonists. A bully in every sense, he would shoo the little kids away from me claiming me for his own. He never sat and rode. ‘G’ would stand on my seat and jostle me. He would twirl around until my chain became chinked and knotted. Once, he pushed the empty seat so hard that it went over the bar and wound the chain around, rendering me unusable. The maintenance man had a few choice words when he came along with his ladder.
But the one that really gets to me is Jennifer.
She’s ten. A frail girl with sad eyes, and a smile just waiting for a reason to come out. But it never does. She comes and sits on the third seat from the end. Clutching the chains with a tight grip, afraid to let go. Jennifer never swings. She just sits with her vacant stare. Her feet never leave the ground. It’s as if she had found protection between my bars; a sanctuary. Not wanting to venture beyond their protection. Her uncle sits at a distance and watches Jennifer. She never looks in his direction. Her eyes divert whenever he comes into view. Her tight grip becomes even tighter. It pains me that this little one should be so sad… so scared… so tortured… No amount of swinging would elicit an Emily-like laugh. I worry about her.
I feel the sun rising higher in the sky. The warmth stirs more activity. More kids come for a ride, a laugh. Some come for sanctuary. It’s hard to keep up. Everything becomes a blur.