Short Fiction

Swing by A. Elizabeth Herting

Be Aware this story has content that some readers may find upsetting

The swing squeaks and bucks high up into the sky, its ancient chains straining against the pull of gravity. The boy shoots his legs out violently, pumping them up as far as he possibly can before falling back hard onto the seat, enjoying the thrill of his body leaving the earth. Rusted metal poles rise up from the ground, wood chips and random debris scattering with every pass he makes. He can’t go any higher, yet keeps on trying, constantly testing his boundaries.

The boy is a slight creature, skinny as a minute, his long, unruly hair curling down over his ears. His eyes are wide and filled with joy. A smattering of dark freckles runs across the bridge of his nose; his face dimpled and kissed by the late summer sun.

Leaning back at an impossible angle, the boy tips his head as far back as he can and whistles through a large gap in his teeth. Momma always said he could eat an ear of corn through a picket fence with those teeth. That never made any sense to the boy, he doesn’t even like corn.

What he does like is the feeling of flying, free and untethered from reality. King of the universe, a real superhero swooping in to save the day. No one laughing at him or telling him no. Pumping his legs once, twice more, he decides to come in for the final landing.

He knows it’s against the rules, but he just can’t help it. Quickly scanning the playground to make sure no one’s watching, he gives the swing one final, colossal push before letting himself go. Soaring through the air, he executes a perfect two-point landing, the best he’s ever done! He holds his arms high in the air like a champion gymnast. Savoring the triumph, he has a twinge of regret that no one was there to witness it, but also the satisfaction that no one was there to stop him either. He is completely alone.

Leaving bloody footprints in his wake, the boy bends down to pick up his weapon from the ground. Sighing, he turns away from the playground and slowly walks back into the building.

The empty swing sways gently in the wind, the sound of distant sirens wailing in mournful, futile protest.

A. Elizabeth Herting

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay 

5 thoughts on “Swing by A. Elizabeth Herting”

  1. Nostalgia – Those old dangerous playgrounds where I never knew anyone to get injured. Not me, but others would swing so the swing chains were parallel to the ground, then bail out without injury. Today’s story shows how innocent those days were.

    Keep On Writing and Swinging and Reading in the Free World, All

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello there,
    This is the first time that I’ve read this. It was voted in before I got to it.
    What a brilliant piece of understated yet brutal writing!!!
    You controlled the pace, the story, sucked us in and then the reveal was a total gut punch.
    Absolutely brilliant.
    I think this is one of your best!!


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