.t.h.e . t.r.e.e . s.w.i.n.g.

. . . a . short . STORY

The tree swing hangs empty.

In a world of black and white, it seems, when the trees swayed in the breeze and the old house protested its shaky foundation in the wind, when the Hanson children played happily by the creek and picnic lunches were held on a checkered blanket… those were the days you remembered most.

And those afterward, when you would discard your shoes somewhere along the way and push your feet off the autumn-ridden ground, pretend you were flying in the midst of the fallen leaves. They would become blurs of reds, yellows, and oranges, when your eyes filled with tears, your cheeks streaked and your mouth tasting the saltiness. Your dress would fly back in the air, and you'd pretend that nothing mattered, that I was still there pushing you…

With every swing, back and forth, with every touch of your bare feet on the leaf-covered ground, a little bit of you would fly into the fall air and blow away in the breeze. And the tears would fall off your face. But you would keep swinging, as if, with the air in your face and in your hair, you could swing away each searing memory of the summer.

You swung away your life.

Now that you're not there, the tree swing hangs empty.

The daisies grew in the flower garden, and there was a bench there, on which you used to set and pour your heart out on paper, the ink splotches from your quill still visible on the paper when the words have faded. The butterfly landed on your finger as you sat so still, reminiscing in all of life's sweet moments, and it flew away the second you opened your eyes to view its beauty. The clouds rolling overhead, revealing a baby blue sky and the birds flying above, the anticipation of what lay beyond the layers of azure.

With every word, over and over on the parchment, every dip of the nib into the ink and every touch of the quill to the paper, a little bit of you would fly into history, seeping onto the manuscript. And the tears would fall off your face, but you would keep writing, as if, with the quill in your hand and the paper filled with words, you could write away each searing memory of the summer.

You wrote away your life.

Now that you're not there, the bench sits empty.

And the bridge… it's impassible now. Where you used to stroll during those endless summer days, that yellow sundress with the bow in the back, your golden hair tied up in a loose bun and tendrils seeking release in the warm breeze, that bridge is but a memory fading in the distance. It was the connection between my house and yours, I walked over the wooden planks every day, and sometimes we would meet there, in the middle, when we weren't allowed to be out. There was a cherry tree by the banks of the river, and in the beginning of the summer the breeze would blow the blossoms into the rolling current, and we would stand and look over the edge as the petals floated away, like the summer quickly slipping out of our grasp.

You would stand there and watch your life go by, and with every blossom as it drifts slowly downward to drop onto the swift waves, a little bit of you would fall into the water and the current would wash you away. And the tears would fall off your face, but you would keep watching as every blossom drowned in the whitecaps; as if, with your eyes glued to the tree and the unending waves of water and your feet planted firmly on the wooden planks of the bridge, you could watch the river wash away each searing memory of the summer.

The river washed away your life.

Now that you're not there, the bridge sits empty.

When the windows of the old house blocked the rushing winds from seeping inside as the rain came pouring down, and when the water-drenched ground did not permit a journey out of doors, you would play the piano. Your fingers would blur across the ivory and the ebony, and a lovely music would fill the old house. Your family would gather around and listen to you, closing their eyes in the sheer ecstasy of the notes.

With every key your fingers hit, the white and the black, every sharp and flat and natural, a little bit of you would follow the notes in the melody as they rose in the air and drifted away into silence. And the tears would fall off your face, but you would keep playing—playing and playing, as if with every tap of your foot on the petal, every sonata you devoured and every touch of your fingers on the keys, you could play away each searing memory of the summer.

You played your life away.

Now that you're not there, the piano bench sits empty.

The rose you held in your hand. You took a petal between your fingers and slowly, petal by petal, you rid the flower of its beauty, like time passing and the people trapped inside it, laying their palms flat on the invisible wall, watching in despair as the world flies by without them…