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He and She
The swing was like magic, slowly going back and forth at first, but soon it escalated. Quickly up and down, making the young girl squeal in delight of her misdoings. She closed her eyes, letting the wind take her and the swing. She was no longer an eight year old who snuck out of her home to the park, four blocks away, but a bird, preparing to take flight. The brisk autumn wind takes her long black hair, whipping it around her hair and neck, becoming a noose. She slid her left, ghostly pale hand from the chain that was securing her to the swing, and struggled to push the hair back in place behind her ear. It was going to kill her, hang her like a rope had hung her sister. She screamed, and clamped her right hand over mouth. Gravity took charge of her affairs.
Before she could slide her hands back on the chain she fell, first the swing forced her even higher into the air, but then she plummeted to the ground. She landed on her feet but with a shrill cry of pain, she collapsed to the ground. She curled into fetal position, wrapping her hands around her ankle. Her grey eyes were wide with fear as tears welled up inside of them. Although she was young, she knew she couldn’t walk, she knew the ankle would prevent her from it. The hair still wrapped around her neck.
Abruptly, she sat up and winced, but ignored the pain. The tears that she was holding back came then, as she pushed the hair back into place. Although the ankle had blown up to the size of a grape fruit, the tears were not shed for her pain, but for her misery. She was eight, yet she had seen more than any adult would. She was the one who found her sister, Nancy, dangling from the ceiling fan in her bedroom, ever so slightly rocking, a chair that the girl had painted just for Nancy on its side below her. She was the one who was told to fetch Nancy for dinner, but instead came running back to her mother. The poor little girl wasn’t able to get out what she was trying to say, so her mother had to see for herself. The poor mother now has to raise their newly only child alone, for their daughter’s father hasn’t had one sober moment from that day until today a month later.
Of course the boy didn’t know that. He just thought she was hurt and scared.
He sat on a bench, the girl’s back to him. He had two choices; help her, or run away, pretending he had never seen her. He wasn’t supposed to be there, either. At the park, just four blocks from his foster home, he was only eight after all.
He stood slowly, careful to make sure the wooden bench didn’t screech the girl a warning. But instead of running like he planned to, he found himself trotting towards the girl. That could have been stopped, is he had just gotten there a few minutes before the girl, claiming the only non-broken swing for him. He sat down beside the girl, on the wood chips. The girl was looking at a far away point, somewhere the boy couldn’t see, the tears silently falling down her cheeks. Her face that had just a few moments ago was cheerful, was now hollow and fearful.
Without uttering a word, he turned her so that she was facing him, and began to inspect the ankle. She didn’t seem to notice. What she did notice was the shooting pain that flooded her body when the boy prodded her ankle.
She glared at him through her stormy eyes.
“What are you doing?” She hissed, knowing very well that whispers were far more frightening than shouts or screams. She struggled to get to her feet, but ended up falling again, probably damaging her ankle further.
“Trying to help!” The boy hissed back. Together they sounded quite odd, seeing that they were both very small for their age. He glared right on back, his green eyes glowed with fury. The wind pushed his short, sandy blonde hair around, making his hair spike although his foster parents struggled to keep it down with mountains of hair gel every morning.
“Now stay still!” He said a bit louder. To the girl, even though it was angry, his voice was musical. It was soft and powerful, she didn’t let this intimidate her. The tears are always dry when someone tries to help. She sat still (unable to do much else) but continued to glower at him, using her eyes to send chills down his spine.
“What are you doing?” The girl asked, her voice much less rude but still sharp as the boy took off his red and yellow striped gloves and shoved them in her shoe, making a solid pack around them to keep the ankle steady.
“Making a substitute cast,” under his breath, inaudible for the girl he added, “I think.”
He helped her to her feet and instructed her not to put weight on it, she used him as a crutch. Although they were young, they weren’t stupid.
He helped her to her apartment, then walked home quickly before his “family” noticed his absence. They didn’t notice, and the girl’s mother didn’t care enough to punish her. She was too sad.
That Monday, the girl went to find the boy, and sure enough, there he was, on the swings at recess. She thanked him, because although she still had a slight limp, the ankle had set nicely.
They became fast friends, because until they met each other, they were alone. The older they grew, the closer they became. Her mother became more happy (though not completely) and began to take on more roles in the house (the girl never again truly trusted her, sadly, she had a hunch that her mother was the reason for Nancy’s death. Their mother was always so tough of Nancy, often abusing her if she did anything less than perfect.) and his foster family adopted him. Everything was great until high school
Every day, the girl was accumulating bruises, more and more. Scars appeared everywhere, cuts also. Dry blood was often left in her hair because she couldn’t get it all out. He was terrified, what was going on? He asked again and again, but she wouldn’t tell him, and he was no longer allowed at her house. They only got together at that little park, because his foster family didn’t want him home alone with girls (they were nice, and liked her, but they worked a lot and they wanted to be fair to the other children. This was the rule for the other kids, he was no exception). When they were sixteen, he asked her on a date, they did the normal things. Movie, dinner, but to end the date they went to the little park and swung on the swing, taking turns pushing each other. It was childish, but they loved it. This time, there was no noose. She had cut her hair so it was pixie style, exposing the long gash behind her ear.
There was no mistaking it, they had fallen in love.
When she was eighteen, things at home were particularly bad (this was how old Nancy was when she died). The girl often missed days of school, and came in broken, and dizzy. She refused to let anyone know about her mother, not even he. But he had a hunch. They were the odd ones out, and this had made them easy bully targets. They were verbally abused, along with physically, making them tough inside and out, and he knew that she would never back down. He worried and even called social services. But with out her testimony, they couldn’t do anything. And she refused to put in her statement. She was leaving at the end of this year. She was going to the same college as he, they would be free! She was going to get through it.
In May, the girl missed three weeks, and the boy decided to walk the eight blocks to her apartment, but when he passed the park, he saw a figure that looked like her, sitting on the swing. He walked over to her silently, just as he did, that first time. She seemed to be looking at something far away. He lay his large, callused hand on her left, flimsy shoulder. And as he did, she slumped back. Her face was a map of cuts and bruises, including a gash on the top of her forehead. Her grey eyes were open, wide and terrified. Her clothes were crusty from the dry blood that stained them. She wore a white tank top and a pair of dark jeans. He hands were tied to the chains with… Is that hair?! She had only one black stiletto shoe, her other foot was missing four toes, all but the large one. The toes were glued to the head band she wore. Around her neck was a snapped noose.
He screamed, and backed away. In front of the poor girl, a message dug into the wood chips.
He ran from the park, and pulled out his cell phone from his pocket and dialed.
“I found a body! A body at North Ridge Park!”
The investigation didn’t last long. Her mother’s blood and hair was under her finger nails, plus the mother’s confession. She was also convicted of the murder of Nancy (who didn’t actually commit suicide) and child abuse. She will be in a psycho ward until her death day.
The boy was given permission to scatter her ashes at the park. It didn’t remind him of that day, that horrible day, but of that first day, and every happy moment after. He wasn’t the only at the funeral. Her father sobered up enough to come, along with several other seniors from their high school, and all of their teachers. Everyone gave a speech (except the dad who couldn’t stop blubbering). The students apologizing, the teacher telling their tales about the “bright pupil”.
As the boy started his speech, there was a sudden cool breeze, making everyone shiver. As they did, the single swing began to move back and forth slowly, then up and down quickly. As the wind died, the swing didn’t stop. It took several long minutes and when it finally did, the wind picked up once more, but only for a second. Just long enough for the boy to hear a voice call his name. It was quiet and sharp. It whispered, “I love you.” He replied, tears etching their hoarseness into his voice.
“I love you too.”
He then began to recite his speech.
“The swing was like magic, slowly going back and forth at first, but soon it escalated. Quickly up and down, making the young girl squeal in delight of her misdoings…”