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This used to be my playground.

I always liked the swings best, so long as the big kids hadn’t twisted the chains around the top of the frame so us little ones couldn’t reach the seats. Our parents always told us to sit down sensibly on the swings, and sometimes I would- kicking and swinging my legs to build up as much momentum as I could. Sometimes, if you got the timing just right, you felt like you could almost swing all the way around. Indeed, until I spotted the big kids throwing the seat over the top, that’s how I thought the chains got wrapped around the top.

What I liked best, though, and would do whenever there were no parents to tell me off, was to swing standing up. You bent your knees to build momentum, and you had to hang on to the chains really tight because you’d find yourself completely horizontal, facing the earth or facing the sky. If you let go at that moment, we told each other, you’d break your neck and die.

No wonder our parents told us to sit down.

I did like the roundabout, too. You’d run around pushing it as fast as you could then leap on, hold tight and get dizzy. Sometimes one of the big kids would stand beside it and keep pushing and we’d just go faster and faster and faster. Sometimes, we’d jump off the roundabout and try to race each other over to the slide, wobbling in all directions as if our legs had turned into jelly.

This used to be my playground, but these days the swings stay twisted over the frame on rusted chains. The roundabout was taken away years ago. The slide got rusty, and ends in a permanent muddy puddle.

The kids don’t play here any more. They have different games, these days. They grow up under different suns.

© Kari Fay

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