I have a belief. A very sacred, childish belief that one day I will vanish over the top of the swing set and that’ll be it. I’ll be gone and nothing anyone can do will change that because I’ll be in Swinger’s Heaven. I won’t be sorry and nobody else will be, either, because there is no better way to die than to just disappear. That is my belief.
I’m not sure when exactly it started, but I’ve sort of had that idea in my mind for a long time. Vanishing over the swing, I mean. I’ve been a swinger all my life. I was a swinger when I was five, I’m a swinger now at fifteen and I’ll still be a swinger when I’m fifty-one. When I was younger, we used to make a real big deal about going out to the park so I could swing and my brother could play whatever sport he was hawking at the moment. I used to get pushes and encouragement; now I fly high because of my own strength.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen my parents swing before – it’s just not something that parents do, especially when they have back problems like my dad. Even so, I find this odd. Haven’t they ever felt that rush of happiness as they find themselves growing level with those pine branches – or that baby oak tree? When I first became aware of the fact that my parents seemed to have given up on swinging, I made a vow to myself: I promised that I would never stop swinging; that I would never give up my dream of vanishing over the swing set in one last shot of glory and laughter.
After resigning myself to the fact that no, my parents would not be swinging with me, I began to realize something else as well: my parents were old. Very old. I’m only fifteen, but already my mom is fifty-two, my step-mom is fifty-six and my dad is sixty-two. It’s kind of disappointing, really, because I don’t have anyone to be young with me. I had actually half expected my dad to marry some blonde bimbo named Carol or something equally horrid because that was what old, divorced men did: they married the future Miss America or a cheer leader gone slightly to seed.
But who my dad married isn’t the point. When I finally came to the realization that my parents, all three of them, were old… it was shocking. It’s kinda funny, really, because I had never thought of them as being old before. I guess no one does, when it’s their own parents.
One day, then, maybe when I’m forty, I know they’ll be gone. Then the swings beside me will be empty. It doesn’t matter that my parents have never swung with me; what matters is that I will have seen each of them, in their turn, vanish over the swing set in one last moment of glory – and that’ll be it. They’ll be gone and nothing I can do will change that because they’ll be in Swinger’s Heaven. I know they made their own promises to themselves when they were still swingers. I know that somewhere inside of them, there’s a little sliver of swinger’s blood. So when I swing up and up, each time farther, I know they’ll be waiting for me.
And I will always be a swinger.
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