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The Swing

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I looked downwards and saw the mountain side rolling out beneath me, slanting diagonally to
create grassy, pricker-bushed slopes. A tumble down that would lead to many cuts and likely a broken bone. My heart pumped as adrenaline rushed through me. My legs kicked the air while I tried to see how far I could reach my hands out in front of me, without becoming unbalanced and a jittery mess of nerves. My heart skipped a beat at the thought of falling off, images of a hard and painful landing flooded into my mind. As these thoughts entered I lost the middle point of equal weight, and for a split second saw those images becoming a reality. Before I could fall, my right hand rapidly found the thick rubber strip going across my stomach and grabbed it, steadying myself. My sneakers came back and hit solid ground once again, small clouds of dirt rising as my feet stomped to slow down. When it almost came to a stop I slid out of the twist of metal chain and black rubber, grinning my little-kid smile and backing away so one of my other family members could have a turn.


We simply called it “The Swing“. It rested on top of a mountain, so to get to the treasure at the top you had to work your way up through thick forestry, leafy damp raises of land and hidden almost-trails. It was possible a random hiker could find it, but people seldom went up there since the land was private property of friends of ours (they were the ones who had put the up swing). Once the walker has broken out of the woods and up the last steep rise of trees and fallen logs, a surprisingly large meadow stretched out and upwards ahead.


From there a distinct, albeit small path twists through the knee high grasses. Follow that, and a small clearing at the top holds two tall sturdy trees, parallel to one another. A wooden beam is nailed to each at least thirty feet up, connecting them. From this beam long swing-chains hang down until they reach the seat, perhaps three feet off the ground. The seat is a standard black rubber strap that bends
under the sitter‘s weight. The view is spectacular; mountain behind mountain until all they became to the eye were distant lumps shaded by hazy grey-blue. On the closer ones little houses can be made out, as well as treeless stretches dotted by little moving animals. The swing faced a different side of the mountain than the one with the path used to get to the top, but by looking that direction all that could be seen would be forest anyways.


My family used to hike up there on nice summer and fall days, back when we were younger.
After we stopped doing that I would go up sometimes with my sister, who knew how to get there better than I did. We’d take turns sitting in the seat while the other gave a starting push, although with the slant of the ground, a push was never really necessary. It served simply as a bonus, propelling us out even further than if we had launched ourselves. We would twist the chains so we’d go flying through the air, turning and spinning at a rapid pace, the scene of brightly colored foliage whirling into a blur. Before it got dark out, we’d finish our play and start back down the mountain. Leaving that glorious swing was never looked forward to.


Trips became less and less frequent as my family grew up. Once in awhile, though very seldomly, I would bring a trusted friend up through the woods. This place was too special to share with just anybody. Being apart from the rest of the hassles of the world, along with the simplistic beauty of the area, gave a feeling of serenity that lingered even after leaving. Any friend I brought up there had to
be able to appreciate this too, so they wouldn’t jeopardize the special getaway from society.


Standing with my hands on the metal chains, I looked up to where they connect to the wooden plank, so high above my head the chains swayed near the top. The trees didn’t even look excessively stable; I can see my friend’s gaze follow mine as they ask, “Are you sure that’s… safe?” I assure her that it is, even though a small thought of doubt crosses my mind each time I come here. To prove to us both that the plank is holding up strong as ever, I tighten my fists around the chains and hoist myself up onto the seat, which now doesn’t seem as high off the ground as when I was a kid. I pick my feet up and am flying, air lapping against my face and an intense fluttering in my chest. The exhilaration is overpowering, and I crave to go higher. With eyes closed, I let the joy spread through me until I land again and place the rubber strip across my stomach, my legs and hands free. Kicking off, my weight is shifted to rest between my stomach and the seat, uncomfortable but I ignore it. Like they have done so many times, my arms stretch out in front of me as I see how far I can reach without losing balance and tumbling from the swing’s height. The feeling of being free for a moment floods over me as my supported body is lifted into the air, flailing legs hitting only air and a smile stretching across my face.





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