I'm a caregiver and an artist. I received high honors in creative writing, fine arts, and sculpture at Montserrat College of Art.
The Swing Was A Monster
The Swing Was A Monster
It was a sticky Summers morning. The air was thin and dry, it was hard to breathe. I walked down the railroad tracks that day. Only a few blocks from my home, but while there it seemed worlds away. Like giant arms, with no hands, the tracks seemed to stretch on forever. That day I met an unfamiliar girl. She was skipping along that very familiar track. Her name was Christa. Although I never knew where she lived or even her last name, we became the very best of friends. I would meet Christa on those railroad tracks after school every day. We were only thirteen, Christa and I, and we always were looking for adventure. We spent a lot of time on the tracks together. Smoking pot, drinking beer, and talking for hours. That day our explorations would take us into the unknown and would change my life forever.
I was an artist. I loved to draw, paint and sculpt. Often I would bring a sketchbook with me so I could draw Christa. Her long dark flowing hair, that pail peach skin, her light blue eyes, and precious smile. They inspired me, her features made my hands flow as they drew her. I love creating things. I especially liked making things for Christa. Once I make Christa a rose from some discarded tin foil. Christa used to say I had good hands. She loved my hands. They reminded her of spiders as they moved carefully and the way they bent. Funny because she hated spiders, they freaked her out. Christa loved to watch hands too. She said they looked like magic dancers jumping around. As if they were a puppet on a string with invisible puppeteers jerking their hands about; "Fascinating.". Christa had a special way of making everything seem right, even in the worst of situations. I loved Christa but I wasn't in love with her.
We love to hang around together Christa and I. Like today, walking down the old familiar tracks. We always walked the tracks keeping to its path. But today Christa decided to change our course. Veering off the railroad tracks, we venture into the woods. Having no path Christa lead the way pushing aside the wild brush, it was as high as our hips. I would have much rather kept to the tracks that day but Christa was leading the way fighting the tall brush, so I didn't complain. As we cleared the brush we could see a small hill in the distance. Christa and I raced each other to it. We wanted to get a better vantage point of our location. On the other side of the hill were rows of trees covered in twisting vines. We squeezed through scratching our arms and legs on the vines which were covered in small thorns. We find a lone swing hanging from a tree's branch. You could smell the green moss, it was like cooked cabbage. The smell was so pungent that you could taste it on your tongue just from breathing the air.
The swing was a monster, a death trap, and had no place on that tree's branch. It pushes its way over one of the steepest cliffs you'd ever seen. That's if you'd ever dare swing on it. If you did the old trees branch could snap, or you could lose your grip and slip. It was tricky even to get on the thing. I saw no point in ever using it.
It had gotten dark on the long journey through the brush and woods. Not much light could make its way through the thick row of trees and vines. Only a thin beam from the full moon's light pushed its way through the trees. It was a single beam of light just above the swing. That swing had an eerie presence about it. The way that the signal beam of light somehow gave it importance. Like a Broadway star singing their closing song; the spotlight was on and all attention was drawn to it.
I look at the swing my eyes locked on the swaying of it. So peaceful and yet so menacing. I wonder what it would feel like to swing on it. I could almost see my destiny laid out before me. Swinging over the cliff the branch would snap like a violin string, and I would fall endlessly until I hit the hard unforgiving ground below; "Splat!". I asked Christa what she thought it would be like to use the swing.
Christa begins a word as the answer is laid out before me. Somehow at that moment, I knew she was no spectator. I swallow hard and ask her "Did you swing?". There was no reply, but her lips became thin and took shape of an odd smirk. At that moment I didn't recognize her. With one giant breath, she sighs deeply. I took that as a "yes."
The Railroad Tracks
The whistling from the midnight train could be heard in the distance. I had never stayed out this late before. I told Christa that we should be getting back, and explained that our folks would be getting worried. She stared at me blankly as if she had no clue what I was talking about. Christa just began to explain the way she felt while she was on the swing. She spoke of the anxiety of not knowing whether she'd be ok or not. She told of how she felt as if she could fly. Describing it in such a way that it felt as if she was trying to encourage me to try it. I felt uncomfortable the way her eyes held me. As she started to describe her experience with more detail I begin to feel dizzy. Her encouragement for me to try the swing grows with every other sentence she spews out.
Those words still echo in my mind "Try the swing. It's like flying. Trust me you'll be ok.".
Christa grabs my hand pulling me towards the swing "Come on, we can do it together.".
I shout "No, stop Christa, this isn't funny!"
She's silent and grins with a devilish smile.
I wanted to get away from her. I pushed and pulled with all my strength. Pulling so hard that on our break I flew many feet. I landed hard on the ground hitting my head hard on a rock "Crack!". All goes black.
I awake in my bedroom. It's dark, I have the same clothes on from earlier when Christa and I were walking. I couldn't get out of those covers fast enough. I felt like a bug stuck in a web and the spider was coming. I couldn't see it but I felt the string getting ready to snap as it got closer and closer. Sweat dripping from my brow and with my heart racing. I sit across from my bed pondering my thoughts about Christa. I wished I could go back and stop her from using that swing. I tried to tell her it wasn't safe. That the tree was too old and weak. But she never listened to me. She would always tell me that everything would be ok. But it wasn't ok. "I miss you, Christa...".
© 2019 Jason Nicolosi