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Free Flights and Scrapes to Clean
written by: Alexandra Sullivan
I feel the cool touch of the chain links, fitting themselves jaggedly into the lines of my hands. It has the pain of mismatched puzzle pieces being forced into place and the sharp grooves leave red, half-moon symbols behind. The leather seat beneath me is old fashioned and lacks the safety, cautious padding of more modern swing sets. Instead, it has the thick, rough hide of well-worn use. The bark that my shoes scrape across the ground, catches in my shoes and prick the heel of my feet through my socks. Then there is the uneasy creaking of the metal beams that stand, rusted away and swaying dangerously to and fro above my skull.
But, to me, none of this matters.
What matters is the kick of my heel as it leaves the ground. My legs as they propel me forward, up into the endless blue. Even as gravity pulls me down, the elation in me rises as I rise. The daycare, that to my child’s eyes was the largest of kingdoms, growing smaller and smaller in my wake. Clouds fill my vision, twisting and forming great, lost heavens that no man can ever hope to reach. I am reminded of shuffling my feet in the dust, pretending I was an angel and overseeing the earth far below. It is how I feel now. Powerful, majestic, and far above the trifles of mortal beings.
Just a few more cycles. One more rotation of kick, rise, and fall.
I position myself, reversing my grip on the chains so that my hands are backward. I steady myself and my body tenses. Waits for just right moment.
And I jump.
Time seems to slow and the only reminder of time passing is the rush of cold air brushing back the hair from my face. I am a revolutionary at the end of the war. I am the slave breaking free from her chains. I am the astronaut taking that first leap into space. The sky is so close, and yet so far. The sun kisses my nose as the wind nips at my ears.
The closest a seven-year-old can get to feeling like a god.
But, then as things do, it ends.
The chain of the earth drags me back down, but this time there is no returning to flight. No push to drive me back up. Just the heavy pull of my body’s weight and the knowledge of impact. The sharp cracking sound of a bird’s wing at the back of my mind makes me flinch. I tumble into the dirt, mortal once more, rolling across a mixture of grass and dirt. I can feel the tearing of flesh. Blood stings and weeps from wounds as it meets open air. Children gasp and shriek and gather round my fallen form. Thankfully, I have been fortunate as only soil and greenery have broken my fall. My face is pressed into the planet's crust, and I have to spit out blades of it as the teacher comes to my aide.
I can hear vague snippets of rebuke and disapproval. The same speech of rule breaking and dangerous activities I have heard so many times that I have lost count.
My face is soiled and there is a lingering taste of flora on my tongue. My palms, knees, and elbows have all been scraped as my cheeks are bruised and my limbs are sore. My hair is disheveled and my clothes are filthy.
And I laugh.