The Swing


Library of Congress - Historic American Buildings Survey: Alex Bush, Photographer, - September 14, 1935

The streetlights cast a long shadow across the porch as we sit on the wooden swing. It is an August evening and I have just ridden my ten speed the four blocks to her house. She is my first “real” girlfriend, and two weeks after our first “real” date we are sitting alone on the porch swing of her parent’s house talking quietly in the dark. We are still strangers, but each evening we spend together now we come to learn each other’s stories. We are amazed we could live such parallel lives for our 15 years and never cross paths.

The ride over State Street hill was difficult after the third of our three football practices today. Even climbing the porch steps was painful, as my muscles twitch and ache with each movement. Only four more days until school begins, and we cut back to one practice a day. In some ways it cannot come quick enough, but in others I dread the start of school. What will become of us? Will this become a summer romance once I return to ND and she returns to BHS? How will we manage to see each other once school is added to football, babysitting, and our other pursuits.

We sit quietly in the dark swinging back and forth. The lights of passing cars spin our shadows around us like the hands of a clock. I will have to go home soon, and the mere thought of it makes my body ache. A breeze blows through the trees, and the leaves rustle up and down the length of this sleepy street. Summer is ending, and soon the cool of fall will chase us inside. At fifteen, privacy is a luxury we do not have. Where will we go to kiss when the porch swing is covered in snow?

I pull her close, and she grips my knee. Two kids flipping the pages of a book we are too young to understand. That doesn’t stop us from trying to make out the meaning of the words. The shadows of the porch wrap around us like a blanket and hide us from the world of responsibility. We are so young, and full of anticipation for the times ahead. So full of fear for what might be waiting for us in the dark.

There is nothing but the sound of the wind through the leaves, and the slow creak of the swing, as we sway back and forth. Teetering on the brink of a chasm whose bottom we cannot see, our fingers interlock. The swing moves in rhythm as we close our eyes to the world outside, and take our first steps.

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