The Rusted Swing Set

?by Sheila Good

She folded the morning newspaper. Her old bones creaked as she stood leaning on the table for balance. Shuffling to the sink, she washed out her coffee cup placing it in the drainer. The sun was bright as she pulled the curtain aside checking out the backyard.

The swing set glistened with morning dew. Maybe she should dry it off before Samantha showed up. It would be the first place she?d go. Mabel Earle loved babysitting her granddaughter, Samantha, Sam, for short, especially since her husband passed.

?Ready to swing?? she asked Sam.

Sam jumped up throwing her hands in the air, bunny hopping. ?Yes! Yes!?

Mabel a little out of breath and grunting hoisted Sam into the seat, giving her a big push.

The swing set was the same one her mother Katie had as a child. Katie?s father refurbished the set right after Sam was born.

?Higher, Nana,? Sam squealed, kicking her feet in delight, giggles floating through the air.

Mabel tickled her granddaughter each time she came forward in the swing. Her muscles quivered from the exertion of pushing her back and forth. At her age, Mabel didn?t have the stamina to keep up with a four-year-old like she use to. I swear I think she could do this all day.

?Stop Nana,? Sam giggled, squirming away from the tickles until she nearly scooted off the back of the seat. ?Again, Nana!? Mabel grabbed her feet to keep her from falling. Sam squealed, her giggles growing louder.

Swing and giggle. It was their favorite game to play and music to Mabel?s ears. God, She loved that child.

The phone began to ring.

Mabel glanced toward the house. She reached to take Sam off the swing. ?Come on Sam, time to go in, Nana needs to answer the phone.?

Sam gripped the chains. ?NO,? she pouted, kicking her feet and staring at the ground.

The phone continued to ring.

Mabel glanced at her granddaughter then back at the house as the phone continued. She stepped away from the swing and started toward the house. I?ll only take a minute. ?I?ll be right back, Sam.?

She hurried in, glancing back, one last time, before grabbing the phone off the wall.

?Hello? Hello?? Shaking her head in irritation, she hung up the phone and headed back outside for Sam.

The chill hit her like the slap of the screen door. Mabel stopped, cold. She looked around. Desperate. Frantic. The swing was empty…

…The seat swayed softly in the breeze.

The swing set is rusted now. The ropes are all frayed. The seats cracked and splintered. Mabel opens the screen door and ambles slowly up the small hill to the swing set. She closes her eyes, running her wrinkled and spotted hand over the cracked surface where Sam sat. Squeals and giggles radiate through her hand.

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Sheila Good is a writer of literary fiction and a member of the South Carolina Writer?s Workshop. She is the author of the Blog Cow Pasture Chronicles, numerous short stories and is completing her first novel. She resides with her husband in Lyman, SC. She holds a masters degree in nursing from the University of South Carolina.