September 29, 2011 in S
There was a big hill between Hannah’s house and the playground. Hannah liked the hill because when they got to the top Martha was always really tired. When they arrived at the park Martha would settle down under her crocheted blanket and yawn. She tried to stay awake to keep one eye on Hannah, but every day her age got the better of her and she drifted off.
Hannah poked her just to check. Martha half opened one eyelid, murmured, then went straight back to sleep. Hannah smiled and unbuckled her shoes. She knew she wasn’t supposed to have bare feet at the playground, but no one was watching. She took off her socks.
Where to start? The see-saw was fun, but not by herself. The bouncy duck? The slippery dip? The chain bridge? Surveying the options was part of her daily ritual, but she always started in the same place. Stepping lightly onto the tanbark, and watching carefully for hidden dangers to her bare feet, she made her way to the swing.
Once on the black rubber seat she tiptoed back as far as she could go then lifted her feet. Pulling back tightly on the chains she kicked her legs out, then back, out, then back. The swing climbed higher. Hannah closed her eyes.
Swinging like a pendulum she giggled each time her tummy jumped into her mouth. It was almost scary, but she didn’t want to stop. Her hair blew in her face as she swung back, then flowed out behind her when she kicked her legs forward again. She loved the breeze, the feeling of flying. Was this what birds felt? In her mind she soared with the cockatoos she could hear screeching above the trees.
But those noisy cockies had woken Martha. Hannah heard her distressed cry and opened her eyes. She swung once more then leapt high, landing with a thud on the tanbark, leaving the swing clattering behind her. Her unprotected feet hurt now, and she hobbled over to Martha, who was suddenly louder than the birds.
Hannah pulled back the blanket and picked up Martha, shushing and patting her until she stopped crying. Replacing the dummy, she put her back in the pram for the downhill walk home. She glanced up at the still-moving swing while putting her shoes on. She smiled -there was always tomorrow.
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