I am playing on a swing. It is beautiful and bright around me. My body is warmed by streaks of sunlight and cooled by the light summer breeze, much less the swinging. I cannot see anyone around me but I hear laughter and music, a type of happy humming of sorts. The motion of the swing is so freeing and it tickles in my stomach, making me giggle. I feel safe, content, joyful. Closing my eyes, I lean back in the swing, upturning my face to the sky. Even though I have held on tightly to the chains, suddenly they rip through my fingers and I am falling,

falling,

falling…

It is dark now. Something is hurting me. I am lying on my back and when I open my eyes I cannot see the sky, not even stars. Thunder sounds and rain starts coming down in a great big rush, blurring my vision almost instantly. I struggle to my feet and cast my eyes hurriedly about the landscape but I see nothing at all, much less something familiar. The thunder booms again and I am thrown into a panic. Running full-out unabashedly, I raise my hands out before me, prostrate, but they cannot protect me. I slip, sprawling to the ground time and time again. My clothes are drenched and muddy; I'm freezing but too freaked out to shiver from anything but my haggard, unnamed emotions. Finally I find the swing set and latch on for dear life. The motion of the swing is no longer comforting, however; in fact it is making me sick. I let go and retch emptily, without relief into the wet grass, then pull my knees in tight to my chest in a weak and meager attempt to placate my fear, my emptiness, and my desperate need to cry. I only hear loud, angry voices instead of laughter and the rain now washes this lonely, joyless world in red…