Swingset Chain

Ellie walked through the playground.

It had been years since she had left her old neighborhood. A lot had changed. The tire swing was no longer hanging around. It had been transformed into a planter, near the entrance of the park. The normal swings were still around, but the cement which was underneath, was now covered in wood chips.

She chose to sit at the bench under the big maple tree. Someone had hidden a makeshift bird feeder in its branches. The air was cool, but not bitter. A gentle breeze passed through the leaves of the trees, making them shift and turn in the wind, as if dancing. She was alone.

Something about visiting this old park, stirred up emotions over life and growing older. Ellie thought about the time she fell of the slide. She managed to chip her tooth. It was the second one, to the left of the center front teeth. She would still emit a slight whistle when she spoke certain words.

Ellie touched her cheek, thinking about the first time she got a kiss from her crush. There was only a few weeks left of school when it happened. The kids that noticed broke out into songs. They loudly teased her with pointed fingers and disgusted groans.

She pulled out her notebook, and began to jot down the memories that began flooding back. So much time had passed, and remembering her childhood had been so distant. Life had been filled with work, dating, traveling, and barely sleeping. It was nice to finally have a moment to rest.

When she finally felt it was time to go, Ellie paused. She gave the playground one last look over, before slinging her bag over her shoulder. She left a tiny paper crane on the bench. It was a memento for her time at the park, a place she thought she had left behind. The years had touched her. The gray hairs, like the old maple trees, were her only witnesses.


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Reflecting Pool

Jumping into the baby blue Ford pickup, to ride out with Uncle Isaac and Aunt Gilly to Wolf Lake was always a welcome adventure. At seven years old, I had already figured out the beauty of catching fireflies in an empty mason jar. Trips out to Wolf Lake meant fiddling around with a fishing pole and braving putting a wriggly crawler on the hook.

Aunt Gilly would walk me along the trails in the woods, excitedly pointing out the difference between Queen Anne’s Lace and milkweed. I greatly enjoyed my souvenirs of curious stones and tiny shells, which I would place carefully into the pockets of my overalls. There they would stay, until they found their new home on the top of my hand-me-down dresser.

A lot of time has passed since those days. Memories of how I would stick my head or arms out of the window, to feel the air rushing past me as we zipped down highway 38, seemed so close yet distantly blurry. At middle-age, my pastime actions would probably be seen as archaic and risking a child’s safety. Scabbed knees and a little dirt, seem like a novel injury, compared to today’s child comforted only by the persistent stimulation of electronic devices.

Sometimes I think about how it’s been two decades, since Aunt Gilly and Uncle Isaac took the last train out of town. I wonder if their parents had fears or notions about them as children, reflecting on my own trepidation as a parent. Whenever I find myself perched on a bench, looking out at the water, curiosity calls to me.

Do we reflect on the memories of what is, or what we wished to have or be? Such is the nature of the reflecting pool.