An Empty Swing

An Empty Swing

Note: This post was inspired by Byrn Donovan's "5000 Writing Prompts." The basic premise is to look through the pages, pick a random one-sentence prompt, and let the creativity flow for x minutes without letting "yourself" get in the way. It's a little shorter and not as "heavy" as my usual content. Let me know what you think!

The wind skims across a lawn of unkempt grass on its daily quest for mischief when it spies a white swing. It’s an old thing comprised of horizontal boards of differing size supported by a metal frame on two legs. It sits off to the side of the lawn on a pavement patio connected to a house. The house’s windows are dark and the doors are locked. Weeds have sprouted around the perimeter.

Ever curious, the wind approaches the swing and offers a salutation as it sits down. The swing’s rusty joints, eager to have a companion, rejoice like delighted children at the wind’s closeness. The swing excitedly asks the wind to stay and play–it’s been too long since anyone has stopped by. Overcome by the swing’s enthusiasm, the wind draws its legs in–their calves press against the underside of the horizontal beams–and shoots them out. The swing creaks and groans as it shifts forward. A chip of white paint careens towards the ground and settles on the gray pavement below like a discarded flower petal.

The swing gently rocks back in preparation for the next exertion and the wind draws its legs in for another effort. Kick! The swing pushes forward again and lets out a hearty laugh as it tilts upward towards the blue expanse above before rocking back.

“One more,” the swing says. “Make it a big one; I know you’ve got more.”

The wind, not to be outdone, pulls in a great breath as the swing oscillates backwards, and then launches a tremendous, cyclonic kick.

The swing rockets forwards grasping desperately for the light blue expanse above. The days and nights staring out across an uneventful expanse of grass blur out of reach in an instant.

The swing’s two metal supporting legs lean forward under the shifting weight and come off the ground. The swing’s most forward board strains outward like a broad hand.

“Higher, higher,” the swing pleads.

Then, the momentum ceases. The still moment before gravity takes hold expands for a quiet eternity. The swing is dancing in the sky above with laughing children and smiling grandparents. Then, the sky begins to fall away and there’s the grass again and the supporting legs crash back down with a grating noise of metal against concrete. The chains connecting the wooden frame to the metal poles had slackened for the ascent, but now they come taut as the swing returns from its voyage. The jolt, the grim return to reality, proves too much. The chains, tired and rusted helpers, give under the stress and snap like a launch escape system disconnecting from a space capsule. The momentum carries the swing backwards and it crashes to the Earth behind the metal frame. The chains lie on the ground like dead snakes.

The wind thrashes about, invigorated by the experience. Ignorant to the totality of the circumstances, it begins to pull and prod at their new companion to play further, but the swing doesn’t budge. It sits in a morose and pained silence. Its eyes are closed against the wind, against the world, and against the grounded future that looms dauntingly, endlessly ahead of them. The wind beckons futilely for a few more moments, but quickly loses patience and scurries off for a new plaything–the wind is a fickle thing after all.

Time passes.

The swing eventually gathers the fortitude to open its eyes and face its new fate. It’s night when it does so. With a start, the swing sees their world has changed in a way they could never have imagined. The lower vantage point allows them to look further up than they could while stationary in their metal frame. The stars dazzle like fireworks celebrating the swing’s return from their despair. The grass has also taken on a new appearance. Where before the grass was lying dejectedly out before them, the swing now realizes the grass is standing tall and upright—reaching upwards just like them. The grass misses the feet of children running through its blades. They want to touch the sky too.

The grass and the swing marvel at the stars together.