I wrote this off the word today on OneWord.com, which was sports. I can’t believe it morphed into something like this – ! I really like this piece. I edited it so it has some semblance of cohesion. There is actually some symbolism, too; see if you can figure it out. Don’t worry, I didn’t deliberately work it in there. The beauty of it is that when I was revising it, I discovered it by accident, and it’s quite subtle. There’s also a juxtaposition semi-posed in there. Lots of nice literary things… I like it 🙂
The Flying Feeling
To her chagrin, she hadn’t worked out today. She’d run thirty minutes a day even after her yoga class had ended, so what was this? She had vowed to never sign up in a weight loss program, believing she could carry out her sports regime by herself, but now, left to her own devices, she wished for the group-oriented kind of workout, like yoga class had been. She didn’t even feel as if she were exercising when she was with others in the same committed mindset.
She had a lesson learned, now; or half-learned: she wasn’t as strong as she thought she was, or used to be. She was no longer a child, of the younger lifestyle into which sports were so effortlessly incorporated. She was old now, nearing forty. She walked the children playing on the playground when she walked from her office to her shuttle stop, and wished that she were that age again – before reality caught up to her and gave her a whole lifetime supply’s worth of work, work, and more work.
She missed the swings, most of all.
That was the thing. There was simply no substitute for the flying feeling – glorious, hanging to earth with nothing but thin swing chains, that rushing in the stomach when she streamed back down –
She supposed that grown-ups, in effort to reclaim the sensation of being children again, went and did all sorts of things – bought makeup; splurged when shopping; worked out, like she’d been trying to do…but nothing ever fit that feeling, nothing.
Grown-ups were a lot more stressed out. They had all the life burdens, she thought. She knew that by her own experience better than anyone else’s, having an article due by next Friday that needed to be thoroughly researched and written up from the paltry outline. She thought she’d had it bad as a teen – boy, was she wrong. Math quizzes, science tests, history readings – that she could take. It seemed almost fun now, having to switch back and forth between subjects, trying to figure out which one she hated the least when she did it – or even liked. For her, it had been English class, and this inclination toward finishing all her English assignments first from her to-do list – even weeks in advance, sometimes – had led the way to her becoming a journalist for the local newspaper. Evidently it hadn’t been the same as English class, or her carefully fostered dreams of becoming a writer who wrote about passion and the soul and things that needed to be said and things that were important –
She was stuck writing an article about the sewer problem in lower Manhattan; life had never sunk lower.
She only wanted to find ten minutes to swing. Somehow she envisioned that that would remedy her tiredness with all aspects of her life these past months. No exercise, no healthy eating, unless McDonald’s constituted healthy eating, no good books read – she hadn’t had enough time – no anything good. Someone needed to take care of her stat, because she wasn’t doing a good enough job of it.
Her fingers limbered themselves up before settling down on the keys. What to type? How the sewer problem in started, she thought. No; that was too blunt, boring. She’d have to pick a better lead, to “snap up” the readers with the “hook”. Oh gods, but she had written so many clichéd leads that it took extra long to think up an actual good one. Her fingers moved of their own accord and before she knew it she was writing, When she was little… What, then? What did she like to do when she was little? She racked her brains, her subconscious mind, wondering if it was going to finish what it started. Sometimes this happened, usually when she wrote one of her short stories and she desperately needed a line for inspiration. She hadn’t written creatively or for herself in months. Her fingers crawled over the letters. She looked down at the keyboard.
When she was little, she loved to swing on the swings.
That was the final straw. She clicked off her laptop because she knew she wasn’t going to find inspiration there. She hadn’t, for so long. She needed to…she needed to… This was hard, digressing from her normal schedule. She thought of the playground she had played on when she was little. She thought of the yellow and red paint on the monkey bars, probably chipped now. And much too small for me, she thought. I’m too old. If there are people passing by, they will stare at me in my old Doc Martens and ratty writing jacket… Come to think of it, she hadn’t shopped in a stretch of time, either. When, if ever, was she going to start taking care of herself, stand up for her unalienable rights?
Going to a playground, she thought, with a sudden decision made in her mind, constituted one of those unalienable rights. The flying feeling. If anyone deserved anything in the world, it was to feel that way, to know that life had meaning. Maybe that was why kids were so energetic all the time. They knew there was something better in the horizon, and they didn’t stress it.
She shouldn’t either, then. She didn’t take her car; she walked instead. The walk was longer than she remembered. The sun was peeking out behind clouds. She noticed the damp smell that rose from the asphalt after a light New England rain. Had she actually danced in the rain when she was younger? She could almost recall the feeling, of the wet grass creeping up between her toes… Her toes wriggled at the tactile sensation. Her shoes were comfortable on her feet. She preferred the Docs to those pumps, anyhow… Her feet carried her to the lot, which held a pile of decomposing leaves. She cast her eyes up behind her glasses and gazed at the playground.
It was small: the chipped paint revealed the rusting metal underneath; no maintenance crew had been here for a long time. No kids trapezed on the monkey bars, no sound permeated the area, except for the wind, blowing through the abandoned playground. The sewer wasn’t the thing that needed to be renovated.
But in her eyes, it was the very same playground.