There’s a swingset out back, next to the large jungle gym that has the rock-climbing wall. This swingset is not new. It has been behind this school for years and years, and it creaks if you lean on the poles. But it captures the kids’ hearts, more than anything else on the playground. The recess bell rings, and then you see them, the children running all at once, trying to be the person that gets to the swings first. Everyone wants the blue swing, you see, because it’s the highest one, the one that sways the farthest. I am one of those kids running, my hair in two braids and my socks pulled high. I don’t get the blue swing, but the yellow is just fine. I swing with the other kids, all of us laughing and trying to touch the pine tree branches. Only Elijah does, he’s the only one who ever can.
I’m still one of those kids, but now my hair is in a tight ponytail and my sleeves fall pass my fingertips. I don’t get the blue swing, but the red is alright. We all try to knock out the pine cones as we kick the branches. Only Elijah does, he’s the only one who ever can, and it makes Marc mad. I’m still laughing with the others, but now they leave the swing next to me empty, and I’m not sure why.
I’m still one of those kids, but now my long dark hair is let down and I don’t feel comfortable in my too-tight jeans (but I wear them, because all the other kids are). I don’t run towards the playground anymore, I just walk. None of the kids will let me have the blue swing, anyway, or any swing at all for that matter. I watch as the girls giggle to one another as they sway, talking about boys. I sit underneath the rock wall and watch as they all try to jump the highest. They try to hit the highest pine tree branch as the soar through the air, and I bet if Elijah was still here he would be the only one who could do it. Marc comes close, but he can’t quite reach.
I’m no longer one of those kids. I’m only here because I’m volunteering in the kitchen for one day. My hair is chopped short and I don’t wear any socks with my shoes. I sit at the blue swing, and I sway back and forth, watching the little kids scramble for a seat. The set creaks more than ever, so much I worry it might fall apart at any second. I swing with the little kids, and they don’t mind. We all are laughing and trying to touch the pine tree branches. Only I can do it, and for once I’m the only one who ever can.