I tug at my dad’s coat anxiously. “But daddy, all the good swings will be taken if we don’t go soon!” His hazel eyes reassuringly reach mine and with a warmhearted smile he grabs my hand and we hurry down Elm Street. My dad squeezes my fingers tighter and points off in the distance. I can vaguely see Sally Hansen swinging on the red swing. My red swing! Sure there is that one green one, but everyone knows that last week Hunter Anderson got really sick after eating the second grade bunny food and let it rip all over the seat! I look up at my dad, expecting him to inform me in his best of deep voices that he will get me my red seat.
We arrive at the fragmented woodchips layering the playground’s edge. I always found these things uncomfortable; they always give me those aggravatingly painful splinters in between my toes and then daddy had to get the scary pincers. I distractedly realize that I am at the swing set. There’s Sally with her mom, going higher and higher…
I gaze down at the green seat, I mean sure, it looks new but I know, and my daddy knows, and Sally knows, and maybe even her mom knows. I glance at my dad and he just smiles and beckons me to the uninviting green seat. I hop up and stand on the swing, my Velcro shoes coming undone slightly in the process. I start to wobble back and forth to propel myself forward and all my daddy does is throw back his bushy head and laugh. I feel like I’m putting on a show, just for my dad. I jump of high into the air and land with a crash on the hard ground, feeling like one of those big earthquakes. My dad lifts me up high from the ground and sets me in his lap while he comfortably rests on the green seat. I smile at him and we soar farther than Sally Hansen; higher and higher into the sky, until its only me and my dad.
The gentle wind blows the metal chain link slowly back and forth across the misty playground. My hand grazes the faded red swings seat, brushing back the dew from the early morning. I walk around the quaint yet deserted park. The Elm Street sign seems to be haphazardly replaced with a crooked neck. I feel a sudden spring of pain in the gap of my toe, as a sharpened piece of wood is jammed up my foot.
My eyes carry me to the old tic tac toe boards against the rusty green metal, past the blue slides and fireman’s pole. I feebly wonder why I never used any part of the park except for the swings. I suppose things were different then. I fidget uncomfortably with the wind. I’m only back because he wanted me to be, because he would have wanted it.
I make my way over to the swings and sit gently on the green seat, as bright as I ever remembered it. My feet stay very still, caught in the perpetual moment between pushing off from the hard ground and soaring into the crisp morning air. I can feel my hair lift from my shoulders as if foreshadowing my flight, but something doesn’t feel right. I can’t push off from the ground quite yet. I peek at the red seat feet away from me, swaying slightly with the breeze.
I say in a feeble whisper, because I know he will hear, “I saved you the good seat daddy.”