At the Playground

August 23, 2011
The playground was a large sandy square bordered by a short retaining wall which was topped by flat boards, like a long bar. A quiet curly-haired boy in oversized overalls stood carefully on this. A couple girls from [EM]'s neighborhood were on the swings, giggling. Some children ran about, on, and over the small wooden structures, and several more on the field below the hill.

A fat, dirty boy with blonde hair, who was obviously not from [EM]'s neighborhood, shoved a little girl off the swing he wanted to use. Crying, she ran off and plunged her face in her brown dress. She must have been two or so years younger than herself, [EM] figured, and the youngest one there.

Everywhere there was running and yelling and all sorts of serious play. Up, down, crawling, skipping, building, destroying; there must have been at least twenty kids on that hot summer day.

The quiet little curly-haired boy counted his steps, toe to heel, along the board, hands out like a tight-rope walker. When the board stopped for a gap, he stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth and hopped with both feet. Landing on the next board, he started again. One, two…

[EM] watched the scene from behind a tree, a few yards deep in the woods that bordered the edge of her field. (Her yard bordered one edge of the arbor, only a few acres all-in-all, but full of magic for an imaginative young girl). Having taken a path she made, she came here, as she did every so often in the summer, to watch the other children. She'd watch them jump on upturned barrels and strike piratical poses, or run in cursive shapes around the field in a game with no apparent rules, and wonder what it would be like to be out there with them- if she could learn the rules to their little games and have as much fun as they were having.

Maybe all their nonsensical running and screaming would make more sense if… suddenly a black, scaly dragon appeared on the field, swiping at the children with his spaded tail and blowing streams of flame from his nostrils. Pandemonium reigned as they dodged and fled the flames. The dragon, lunging at the ones by the swings, stuck the fat blonde boy and downed him in one gulp.

But no, there was still the curly-haired boy in overalls… he just didn't fit with the dragon scene at all. The dragon was suddenly replaced by a fat prison warden, and the children all wore striped pajamas, like convicts. The sun beat down on the dusty prison yard, where they were playing a tired ball game. Curly-hair ponderously dragged a cannon ball by his ankles. The lonely prisoner was probably doing time for some sensational crime, she figured. He was a Bolshevik sympathizer, patiently plodding as he schemed his daring escape. The little black-haired girl with the ugly dress must be a bank robber. A real wild-west outlaw.

Hmm, she sighed. This was getting boring. She rubbed her eyes and tromped back through her magic forest.

'Where have you been, Sweetie?' Her mother asked when she slipped through the doorway. She was knitting something with great intent, and her eyes never left her quick needles.

'At the playground' [EM] said, sleepily.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

leafy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 9:52 am
And here's what I've been waiting for: your flash fiction which had previously granted you 2nd place in my contest. On the contrary to the others, I do not mind that this isn't the most clear, because that is the nature of many flash fictions. Yes, this piece is a bit random, but like I've said many a times before: this world sometimes just needs more spontaneity. Great job, 5/5
PaigeStreet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm
RayBaytheDinosaur said...
Oct. 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm
I agree with the first comment, im not sure why she couldn't go play but it is greatly written and its a really cute plot =) i have a weird imagination just like that xD
PaigeStreet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 12:51 am

Haha. I think a lot of us do. 

Thanks for the comment!

The idea is that she cannot play with them because she feels she is too different. She doesn't view herself as "one of them," but instead as a special, or weird, child, due to her gifts. 

ChocoMint said...
Aug. 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm
Everything was very well written, but I have to admit, I had to read some things two and three times to understand what was happening.  What was the whole thing with the magic forrest?  Why couldn't she play with the kids?  Could you add a little more detail and explinations to it to make it an easier flow?  Other than that, I really liked the plot.  Four stars.  =+)
PaigeStreet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 12:50 am

thanks! I'll definitely re-edit this one for clarity and flow. 

This is a vignette picture of a larger narrative, one which would, hopefully, explain why she "can't" go play with them. Suffice it to say the boundary is entirely psychological. She is aloof. 

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