He’s not a bad kid, he’s good. He’s the sort of kid that I wouldn’t mind sharing my swing with.
I’m standing still, staring at him.
It’s my swing. He’s getting higher and higher, kicking his feet and giggling. Hasn’t he noticed me? I always sit on that swing. I twist the chains and go round in circles, I propel myself forwards, feeling the wind in my hair on my swing. Mine. My swing has that stupid white paint stain on the black seat and the chains are rusty on my swing. How can he not see that it’s my swing? How can he not notice me?
He digs his feet into the ground and stops himself.
Why would he sit on my swing? Everyone knows that it’s my swing. Mine, mine, mine. The second swing from the left after you run past the roundabout, the climbing frame, the wooden hut and it’s right there. Right in front of me. My swing has that stupid white paint stain on it that no one has ever gotten rid of. It’s my swing. My swing. Mine.
“That’s my swing.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Why isn’t your name on it then?” He’s grinning at me, absentmindedly scratching the edge of his nose with his thumbnail. The nail is digging in slightly and I reach my hand out to touch his own.
“Stop it, you’ll bleed.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Yes, you will.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Shut up.” I’ve only just met this kid and we’ve already argued twice. Why can’t he see that I’m right? In his childish innocence, he’s disregarded any of my own experiences in favour of arguing. I know that he’ll bleed if he carries on scratching at the delicate skin, so why does he have to tell me I’m wrong? “I know I’m right. I did it before, the skin came off and there was loads of blood everywhere, it was like someone had chopped my nose off.” He tilts his head to the side, rubbing his ear on his shoulder and stilling his hand. He doesn’t speak, just stares at me with big brown eyes. “No really! It happened; I had a blue carpet and I bet the blood is still there. It was like a horror film where everyone was bleeding and then died!”
His hand drops to his side as he continues gazing at me with impossibly wide eyes. “Really?”
“Yeah, why would I lie?” I gaze right back at him before giving him a little push and knocking him off my swing. It’s mine again. I just onto the paint stained seat, not looking at him as I begin to thrust my body into the air. I close my eyes and tilt my head back, feeling the wind rush past my skin with increasing force every time I get higher. By the time my eyes open again, he’s gone.
He’s there again the next week. I raced across the soft tarmac, past the roundabout, the climbing frame, the wooden hut and headed towards the second swing from the left, but he’s already sat there. “Get off my swing.” I growl at him, my fists clenching by my sides. You would have thought he would have learnt since last week. He should understand that I don’t like people being on my swing. It’s mine; I go on it every week.
He flicks his hair from his eyes and I notice a small scab on the side of his nose. “I told you, it’s not got your name on it so it’s not your swing.” He taps his feet against the ground from on the swing where he’s sat before I push him off again. “Why do you do that?” I feel slightly bad as he looks up at me from the ground with tears in his eyes – he’s grazed his knee from where he hit the tarmac and some beads have fallen from his pocket.
“Because it’s my swing. I always swing on this one, it’s special to me.” I pull a pen from my bag, writing “William” in shaky lettering on the white paint. “See, it’s my swing now. It has my name on it.” A hand grabs mine and I jump slightly before letting him pull himself to his feet, scrutinizing the seat and tracing his finger over the ink. Before I know what he’s doing, he has a hold of my pen and is writing “and Ryan” underneath my name.
“Hello Ryan.” Why has he done that?! No! It’s not allowed, now it’s not just my swing! “That’s cheating, it’s still my swing.” With that, I sit myself down and begin swinging myself.
There is no getting rid of this kid. He’s beaten me to my rusty chained swing again, kicking his legs and smiling at nothing whilst he propels his body through the air. “Ryan!” I yell out, seeing his eyes fly open, his heels digging into the ground in an attempt to stop himself. He immediately notices me and he smiles, all teeth on show like the Cheshire Cat. “You’re on my swing again.” I pout.
“It’s our swing, remember?” He jumps off, pointing to the paint splattered seat where the smudged ink lies and I chuckle. “Why are you laughing?”
“Because you’re funny. You’ve got a funny face.”
“Shut up.” That day, he sits on the swing next to me.
When I get there one week later, my head is spinning from stress. All week, I’ve been stuck with some article on a drowning nearby, but I’m still struggling to get the details. I know that some kid called Luke jumped from the bridge, but that’s it. There’s some sort of media block in place and it’s driving me insane. My boss is constantly on my back, telling me it needs to be finished, but how can I write about something that I don’t know about?
Vicky has been by my side the whole time, scouring social networking sites, police statements and photos, trying to find witnesses or any additional information that can get us the details we need. After 3 bottles of wine between us last night, we decided to fill half the article with a copy of the police statement released and add quotes from family and friends. There was little else we could do – now we sit and wait.
I should have stayed at home, put my feet up and watched Mean Girls with something strong and alcoholic by my side. I couldn’t though. Not when my swing is waiting for me. The swing which is second from the left with the rusty chains and has a stupid white paint stain on the seat. A paint stain that’s always covered by a small brown haired boy. The small brown haired boy that is there waiting for me at 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon.
He draws me back. He intrigues me with his confidence and his calm composure, he’s fun and cheeky and he wants to talk to me – which doesn’t happen a lot. I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t hear my name being called until I reach my empty swing. He’s not here, my swing is all mine. I don’t have to fight him for the-
“William! I’m over here.” He’s sat in the corner, playing with a short haired Barbie doll, her body covered in biro tattoos. “Come play with me. Please?” He has the big puppy dog eyes and I can’t resist. I wander over, dropping to the ground next to him and picking up his doll by her severed hair.
“Why are you playing with a Barbie doll?”
“They’re pretty. Don’t you like pretty girls, Billy?” Nicknames. I hate being nicknamed. My eyes narrow, but he doesn’t notice. Why would people nickname others, it’s assuming that they know the other person well enough that they’ve exceeded the first name basis and now need something new to seal their relationship. It’s assuming I don’t already like my name.
The moment is broken by my phone beeping at me. I pull it from my bag, reading the two messages that have popped up. One from Boss, the other from Vicky.
Don’t panic, you looked stressed earlier. The article is fine –call you later.
Boss is happy, I’m coming round later and we’re going to get waaaaasted. – xoVick
“You’ve got a phone? Wow, your parents must be so cool!” He barely pauses for breath before continuing what he was saying before. “I sometimes wish I could be a girl, they’re so cool and pretty and smart. They’re scared of mud and they can sing really good, too. They get to wear pink dresses and hair clips and they have long hair that you could brush for hours. They’re cool. My Dad wishes I was a girl. He tells me all the time. He hits my Mommy and tells her she’s stupid. If I was a girl, we’d be all happy and we’d go to Disneyland. Have you ever been to Disneyland, Billy? I want to go and meet all the princesses.” He’s not even looking at me now, just rambling on as he makes Barbie totter along the fence in her high heels and short dress.
I feel sorry for him. What sort of Dad hits their wife in front of their kid? Hell, what sort of guy hits anyone? Ryan shouldn’t be made to feel like it’s his fault, he’s only young and young minds are so easily deceived, they’re so gullible. He doesn’t deserve that. He’s such a happy kid though, it shows. He’s always smiling, he’s always laughing. Wait, no. Looking closely, you can see the façade slipping as he plays, looking at the doll in longing, tugging on his own hair as though wishing he could make it grow. I want to take him in my arms and hold him. He doesn’t even realise how much of an issue it is, glancing over the details and not worrying about what could happen to him.
He’s not a bad kid, he’s good.
He’s the sort of kid that I wouldn’t mind sharing my swing with.
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