Tire Swing

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It is dusk when the first glimmering star makes its brilliant appearance on the fading, pink horizon, just beyond the distant Cincinnati skyline. I sigh with contentment, lost in blissful thought as I admire the magnificent sight that God has placed right before my very eyes, almost forgetting the presence of the blue-eyed boy sitting in the soft, lush grass behind me.



This is our special place, where not even the brightest city lights can find us and where we can fully connect with the beauty of nature, as well as with each other. Nobody else knows about this place; we discovered it last year while hiking and vowed to keep it our perfect little secret.



Flowing on one side of our meadow is a sparkling, clear brook, teeming with fish, almost tropical in appearance, of all different colors. Along the bank, weeping willows extend their lonely arms down toward the water, clean and untouched by corporate-hungry human hands. The brook makes for a refreshing escape from the heat of the summer sun, as well as for a feverish rendezvous beneath the soft glow of the sinless moon.



Just beyond the brook lies a steep bluff, providing an unobstructed view of the city, a stark reminder that, eventually, we must return to the place that we’ve temporarily left behind. That, however, is the only indicator that there is any kind of world beyond ours, as the rest of the meadow is surrounded by nothing but forest.



This meadow that we have come to love, nearly as strongly as we love each other, is just a tiny clearing in the dense foliage, where small patches of black-eyed Susan, candytuft, and evening primrose poke their heads up through the down-like, emerald colored grass. In the center stands a gracious, old apple tree that bears fruit as sweet as if you were eating pure cane sugar. We like to call this our very own little Garden of Eden.



We drive out here often, he and I, leave the car in a parking lot off the interstate and hike up to our spot. Sometimes we bring a picnic basket, sometimes our guitars, sometimes just ourselves. We'll spend all day up here sometimes, talking, eating Sour Patch Kids, taking silly pictures of each other with my old-school Polaroid camera, and singing our favorite indie songs. One day last spring, we even decided to hang a classic tire swing from one of the apple tree's strong, solid branches.



This is where I'm sitting now, taking in the aesthetic scenery surrounding me. I look to the sky, gradually fading to indigo as the sun sets behind the trees. At some point, Blue Eyes comes up and wraps his arms around my waist from behind, disrupting my train of thought as I catch a slight whiff of his Hollister cologne.



"Make a wish and hold on tight," he whispers softly into my right ear, before brushing my waist-length, auburn hair to the side and pressing his warm lips into the indention between my neck and shoulder.



I squeeze my eyes shut, decide what my wish will be, and suddenly I'm flying, soaring high above the treetops, beyond the city, toward the celestial sea so far away from here. I open them again, taking in Heaven's natural light show, watching each star gradually come out to play underneath the watchful eye of the Man in the Moon, until the sky is filled with them. Back here on earth, the occasional flicker of a firefly breaks up the darkness as I swing back and forth, Blue Eyes pushing me higher and higher.



Eventually, I begin to feel dizzy. "Baby, let me down!" I call to him, and before I can take another breath, the swing stops abruptly, causing me to gasp.



"Never," he says, helping me down from the swing and enveloping me in his arms, my dizziness getting the best of me and causing us both to tumble to the grass. As soon as our intertwined bodies hit the ground, laughing hysterically, the sound of an explosion momentarily startles the peaceful calm, silencing the tree frogs and katydids and causing us to nearly jump out of our own skin. Not for long, though, because the sound of a second explosion reminds us what day it is.



Fourth of July.



Blue Eyes rises to his feet and then offers me his hand. I gratefully take it as he pulls me upright and leads me over to the side of the brook. The sky over Cincinnati is all ablaze with red, white, and blue as we watch, mesmerized, hidden back just out of sight, underneath the weeping willows. "My God, you're beautiful," he finally manages to murmur as he takes both my hands in his.



Beautiful? If I'm beautiful, then what exactly does that make him, standing here with me, smiling as the fireworks dance off of his eyes and his hair falls perfectly into his rugged face? Beyond beautiful? Instead of searching for words, I silently release his hands, wrap my arms around his neck, and gently press my lips against his. Several delicious minutes and hundreds of fireworks later, I pull back and look down at my phone. When on earth did it get so late?



He's obviously just seen the time as well because his eyes grow wide with panic. "What time were your parents expecting you home?"



"Eleven-thirty. I have half an hour."



"We can make it if we drive fast; come on!" He takes my hand and we take off sprinting downhill, through the woods, along the same path that we've traveled a million times. About a mile later, we find his black Camry parked right where he'd left it. We hurriedly pile inside, click our seatbelts, blast the music, and speed off down the interstate, headed back for civilization.



After doing ninety for most of the trip, his car pulls sensibly into my driveway at precisely 11:29. We made it.



A few last kisses, a promise to go to the same spot tomorrow, and he's off, about to miss his midnight curfew. I smile as I watch him drive to the end of my street, turn left, and speed out of sight. As I'm walking through my front door and heading up the stairs to let my parents know I'm home, I feel something in my jeans pocket. I reach in and find a small piece of paper; he must have placed it there sometime during the fireworks, or perhaps the chaos of trying to get me home on time. I slowly unfold it, smile as those three little, ever-powerful words register in my brain.



I love you.



"I love you, too," I whisper as I turn the corner at the top of the stairs. "I love you, too."





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