Rope Swing

February 7, 2018
By Anonymous

The backyard seemed to stretch for miles from the porch. It was as if we lived on a farm in the middle of the city. Pecans would flood the grass in November. The whole family would go out with plastic bags my mom had saved from her runs to the Dekalb farmers’ market. We would gather as many pecans as we could and mom would make her incredible pecan pie for dessert. During the summer we would blow up a cheap pool and I would float aimlessly in circles for hours at a time. There was a makeshift baseball diamond my dad made at the furthest point of the yard. He had set up some sand bags and made a mound to form this sandlot of a baseball field. He would spend the evenings teaching me how to play the game, and would plant the seed for which my dream would eventually grow. My dad had recently put up a rope swing. I am not completely sure how he got the rope up there and tied to the branch. The tree was huge and its lower branches extended out like long slender arms. It was uncomfortable on the rope swing. There was tier of knots, the first being the size of a soft ball, followed by three others that gradually got smaller. I would grab the thick rope, it felt ruff to the touch almost like an uncomfortable woolen sweater, and pull myself up putting my feet on top of the first knot. My dad would begin pushing me, slowly at first until he caught a rhythm. As I got higher it felt as if I was holding on for dear life to a floppy wet pool noodle. The wind would rush over me as I went down, and then would seemingly stop as I emerged up on the other side before beginning my descent down again. I got so high, that when I reached the peak of my momentum I was almost parallel to the ground. Everything seemed so small up in the air, my dad looked miniature as he stepped away and let gravity naturally slow me down. I could see the entire backyard and it began to lose its vastness. The distance between me and the neighbors’ backyard seemed short, almost as if I could step off the rope swing at its highest point and land in their backyard. The rope went down and the wind rushed over me, I came up and decided when I went back down towards the neighbors’ fence I would try and jump over. I floated to the top, the wind stopped and I made my descent back down again. Everything around me turned into a blur, as if I was watching the whole world move without me. The wind rushed over me and I began the upwards climb to the top. As the wind slowed and the world was brought back into full focus, I floated to the top of my swing. My momentum stopped and I let go. The results that followed did not meet my expectations. Seeing as I had jumped off at the loss of all my upwards momentum I could go nowhere but down. Instead of flying I plummeted. It was a slow free fall down towards the green patchy grass. Everything fell silent as I continued to fall. I couldn’t hear the sound of the wind, nor the rustling tree branches from my swinging. I only saw the ground growing larger in size as I fell closer, and my arms slowly circling in front of me, my fatal attempt to somehow rewind time and stop my fall. I landed on my hands and knees as if I was a cat, certainly not as graceful. The impact of hitting solid ground stole my breath. I couldn’t get it back, no matter how hard I tried. I began gulping for air but could not seem to bring it down to my lungs. I thought I might die out there in that big backyard with the pecan trees, the blow up pool, and the makeshift baseball field.
My dad came over and scooped me up in his arms like I was still a newborn. My sobs were interjected by the sounds of my lungs still desperately trying to suck in air. I closed my eyes and buried my head in his chest. It felt like an eternity going from the backyard into the house. He placed me on the sofa and left the room. I didn’t even noticed we had crossed through the kitchen. I was curled up, still quivering from the loss of air. Every breath I took seemed to shake my body, but with each breath I began to shake less and less. My dad came back in with a small glass of water. It was in an old vintage Archie glass, my mom loved those glasses. I sat up as he brought me the water and took a seat next to me, putting his arm around me. As I sipped from the class he said “I’d be alright” and that I had just “gotten the wind knocked out of me.” We sat momentarily in silence. I examined the wall of art in front of us, there was an old screen print of two men boxing, I always loved that piece. Perfectly placed in the middle of the wall was a vintage lamp atop the old wooden crate that held my toy blocks. The sun was setting and you could see the specks of dust floating through the rays like stars in the sky. My dad asked why I jumped and I told him. He chuckled, and I began to chuckle too. My dad got up to help my mom prepare for dinner. I sprawled out on the sofa and looked up at the specks of dust in the rays of sunlight. My eyes fluttered shut as I dozed off to thoughts of letting go of the rope, the slow intense fall, and the feeling of the air being forcefully withdrawn from my lungs.

The author's comments:

The innocence of my youth. 

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