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A swing set on a playground doesn?t say much, but behind it are the secret stories of at least a hundred little kids.
?Lean in a little closer,? he says in a low, soothing voice. ?I?ve got something to tell you.?
I giggle, in that way that twelve ? year ? old girls do when they get close to a boy, but this wasn?t any ordinary boy. This was the boy. Ordinary actions speaking for an extraordinary thing.
I scoot myself closer to him, staying on my swing, until our faces are only a couple inches apart. His lips press to mine, without warning. I don?t pull back.
The same swing set on that same playground can see things, too.
?Come a little closer,? says that same boy in that same voice, although now it?s a little deeper, and his body a lot bigger.
He pulls me into his chest, leaning against the wooden pole of the swing set. The kiss is more familiar, but more passionate than it was that first time. It seems like so long ago. I smile as we begin to become one, in that way that fifteen ? year ? old girls do when they get close to a boy, but this was closer than we?d come yet. It was an entirely new step. I only pray that we don?t get caught.
The swing set is still watching, as always. It?s seen even more than the people who are actually living the experience.
?I can?t do this anymore,? he blurts out loud, pulling away and taking my heart with him.
I stand there, completely stunned, in that way that sixteen ? year ? old girls do when everything that had ever mattered is suddenly gone, but this wasn?t just anyone leaving. This was the boy. And once he is completely out of my site, I break down into hurt, furious, terrified, crazy tears, in that way that a girl of any age will when she has no idea what else there is to do.
All good things come to an end; all swing sets get old and are eventually deemed condemned. New ones are built, and new memories form.
I watch from afar as a twelve ? year ? old girl sits on a swing, next to a boy who she obviously thinks is the boy. I watch as she scoots closer, giggles in that way that twelve ? year ? old girls do, when they?re about to receive a first kiss. A quick peck on the lips and the moment is over.
I want to tell her that it?s a waste of time; he?ll just hurt you. I want to tell her that he?s not the boy. I want to tell her so many things, as I watch this happening; she having no idea whatsoever that I?m witnessing the beginning of what will only end badly.
In the same moment, however, I realize that that boy really was the boy. The boy; the one who taught me things, who was there for a long time, even though it wasn?t the forever that I had wanted it to be. The one who helped me grow up, and become myself. Without him, this new girl on that new swing set would have a mother who didn?t understand, one who would overreact, freak out if she knew what her sweet little picture of innocence was doing at the park down the road.
So I let it happen, in that way that not very many mothers would when they witness what they think is history about to repeat itself, because this indeed was different. This was a different little girl?s life, a different path that wasn?t mine to choose.