Swinging Higher

April 6, 2011
It has been ten years, ten years since she walked on this street, smelled the mix of aromas and fumes mingling and dispersing into the air; saw the lines of motorcycles and trash bags along the side of the road, waiting to fulfill their respectful tasks. It has been ten years that passed and still nothing had changed, the buildings were still there, with their red bricked coats, thick metal gated doors at each entrance to an apartment building. The only changes were subtle, easily overlooked by the daily passerby; and that was of Time, running its fingers, leaving cracks and crumbling corners behind in its wake, to show its presence; inevitable and unavoidable. The bustling and fast paced movement poked at the thin, invisible silence that echoed around her, as she walked further down the neighborhood street. Nothing had changed; nothing had changed because all the changes were the ones she brought with her, within, and that which would come, soon, later, afterward.
Everything was still, as if the buildings and the street itself were watching her, waiting, for the moment she dreaded. She felt the heat pour down on her, tightening its grasps, the dry, humid air sticking to her arms and legs. She didn’t know why she was here or what coming here was going to accomplish. But everything was familiar and somehow comfortable and right, bringing back a faint sensation of home and of the simple past. Childhood memories when she could run into her grandmother’s arms without worry, when she could just have fun in this neighborhood without any care.
As she rounded the corner, a rush of nostalgia engulfed her, sudden and abrupt. The rest of the world drowned out and she was overtaken by how it seems time had stood still here, on this small piece of land, it was like she had never left: everything was in the same place, patiently anticipating her return to the wooden swings, the stone chair and the worn out patch of grass, underneath the ebony tree, the only spot in the neighborhood that always stayed cool.
Memories of the times she had played here flooded in and she smiled as she remembered a day not much different than this one, when the sun was so high up in the sky that it seemed farther away than the heat that it was pouring down. She was trying to tie her own long, black, silky hair back with this hair elastic she had found on the floor. Not caring one bit about the sweat that beaded on her forehead, or her skin burning, like it always does when she is exposed too long to the sun. That day, she had refused to come inside because she had this stupid notion of wanting to touch the sky on spaceship (which was the swing). She wanted to feel that rush. She swung higher and higher, and she reached further and further, shutting out the voice that floated down, calling her name. There was that feeling of freedom, yes, the feeling of taking flight all of sudden and that’s what she loved and yearned for. She couldn’t wait for this feeling, this rush. She pumped her legs forward and backward, closing her eyes, her heartbeat soaring with her, as she flew higher and higher, and that moment of exhilaration as she squealed with glee, adrenaline pumped through her. And until the very last steak of light faded as night swallowed day, it was until then, that she stopped and it was then when the swing gave its last effort before giving in, with it her: falling and tumbling onto the hard, heat-smelling cement. It was then that she saw the cut that the rock wall had made on her leg; stinging, red was the first two words that came to her mind: watery, sticky liquid made its way down her leg, staining her white, satin summer dress, before spilling over onto the ground. It was then she started to cry and it was then her grandmother’s voice pieced its way into the night, ringing in her ears, echoing in the neighborhood.
She had remembered that day for some reason, because it was the very first time she saw her grandmother show any signs of fear. And it was that day she was never allowed near the swings ever again.
She was tempted to get on the swings then, to feel the thrill that once made her giggle and laugh, made her heartbeat race, tousling her long, black hair, messy and tangled as she swung higher and higher, reaching into the heavens. She could go and feel the feeling that once made her forget everything. She could…
Suddenly a dry, hot wind blew past her, as if pushing her towards her final destination, urging her on. She completed the few steps that closed the distance between her and the silver, metallic front door that she had opened so many times before. She stopped and looked at the call buttons with names and numbers, its colors washed away, barely legible now. But she knew very well which button she needed to press, she knew very well who would answer.
Buzz! Buzz!
“Grandma, it’s me.”
It’s easy to forget where you come from, where you used to belong, and the relationships that had started long before you even begin to realize how important they are. But when you start to understand their value and how precious they are, that’s when you start to regret and reminisce, and revisit. It’s time for her to correct what went wrong so many years ago. It’s time for things to go back to the way they were, it’s time for everything to change, but does that mean that everything would? Can I just keep swinging, forever and ever, trying to reach for the sky, reaching further and further?

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