March 14, 2009
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Emma's toes, bare and shoeless, fumbled across the rock-covered surface of the playground as she swung back and forth, eyes closed, pushing herself because unlike the other children, she had no parent to push her.

She smiled for a minute at the idea of having a loved one at the other end of the swing set, happy for their daughter reaching the sky, legs kicking the blue expanse above and giggling in childish delight. Emma had no parents and had been through more foster families than every other foster child she had known; her maturity and worldview too broad for any of her foster parents to possibly comprehend, golden locks and bright blue eyes too jealousy-provoking for any foster family with children to allow to keep, and her quiet demeanor, like polite silence, too delicate for any of her previous foster parents to handle.

Every single one of them had wanted a connection, some kind of bond that would hold their family and Emma together, but she could not fulfill those parental desires. She was an awkward child according to the families who had put her back in the system.

Emma stuck her feet in the wind as the swing seat pushed her higher into the air; a cool breeze comforting her as she listened to the other children playing and laughing. Her hair, falling behind her shoulders, thumped against her neck every time she swung backwards, and Emma reminded herself to be thankful for the fact that she had hair, had good health, and though she did not have parents, she had love.

But from who? From the fifty-some families refusing to work with her soft-spoken attitude? From her original parents, one dead and the other in a mental institution for schizophrenia? From the children of the playground with parents and families of their own, the same children who ignored her daily and spit in her face when she would not, could not answer them in words?

Did the rocks beneath her feet love her? The swing giving her the freedom to fly and stay grounded simultaneously? And the sky coloring her eyes, did the sky show her love?

Emma inhaled the summer air and pushed her swing to pump faster. Yes, she thought, she was loved. Whoever had built this playground, without meeting her, loved her more than any other parent who had ever fostered her. Her real parent, an invisible being and the creator of this sanctuary, stood at the other side of the swing, cheering her on inaudibly and pushing her to fly higher into the clouds than any other child on any other swing.

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