The Garden Swing

The rusted chains creaked softly, their music carried by a soft wind that rustled the leaves of nearby trees. The leather seat pressed uncomfortably against me as my gaze stayed fixed on the colorful assortment of flowers surrounding the swing. I absently studied the green vines that were woven about a white trellis fence.

This was our spot.

When we were little, we would come down to the swing nearly every afternoon to play. She would grin as I pushed her as hard as I could. Her silky brown hair would spread out into a fan each time she soared into the air.

I would keep pushing, her laughter bubbling into the gentle floral breeze, until I got too tired and demanded that we trade spots. She would stare me down with her brilliant blue eyes, her nose pressed against mine, and say, “You like me better than that. You won’t give up that easy.”

And she was right; so, I kept pushing.

I moved away for a time, my dad’s job pulling my family to another state. But the fates wouldn’t keep me from her forever. Towards the end of high school, my family moved back to our old neighborhood and I reconnected with the playful little girl from my childhood, now an elegant young woman. We spent our last years in grade school as we had spent our first; laughing at the garden swing, her silky hair fanning out as I pushed her.

The tradition continued through college. Every holiday we would meet at the garden swing, rain, snow, or sun, and, for endless hours, paint the night sky with our dreams. These treasured days that happened only a few times a year grew to precious months as we returned to our hometown after graduation. Then those precious months stretched into sacred years.

When the time was right, I brought her back to the swing. I pushed her and her laugh floated up into the summer wind. The daylight faded to twilight and I fingered my pocket nervously.

She noticed my fidgeting and asked what was wrong. I solemnly told her there was something that I needed to talk to her about. A frown spread onto her face, her bright blue eyes darkening with worry. Then, I dropped to one knee and held out a ring, there, amid the flowers of the garden swing.

But I can’t think of that.

I can’t think of summer breezes or bubbling laughter. I can’t think of perfect holidays or golden bands. All I can do is sit in the garden swing and seek for solace where only heartache can be found. I can only think of the doctor’s grim expression and glossy black sheets. All that fills my mind is her teary face pressed against mine and the words that rasped from her mouth.

“You like me better than that. You won’t give up that easy.”
I yearn to embrace her one more time. I crave the warmth of her body surrounded by mine. I want to run my hands through her hair, whispering how everything will be all right. I want to hold her until her problems melt away. But I can’t do that. All I can do is sit in the garden swing and remember her bright blue eyes and a still heartbeat.