Swing Me

Swing Me

A Story by Bayandur Pogosyan

A troubled young woman, a winter park, swings and seven days. 2009, Tsakhkadzor, Armenia

Day One
I was walking, I like walking, actually. The snow got hard from the cold and was making cracking noises with each my step. It seemed like the air could crack too; but I'd need something more tender than my frozen feet to make it sound.

Didn't know the places was walking through; at least thought so. But, despite it, something directed the steps, knew where was going. The snow had covered the ground, but somehow knew there was paving under the snow.

Maybe you'll find it strange. Was so deep inside my thoughts, didn't even try to understand all the hows and whys. Not real thoughts, just followed the chaotic patterns in the snow, that the mind followed and repeated.

Wasn't surprised when reached an old, abandoned playground. Broken and rusty swings and benches were covered in snow caps. There he sat - on the only decent swings. He looked at the cold, white winter sun with half-closed eyes and swinging himself gently, pushing the ground with one foot.

Didn't want to speak, but he didn't disturb the loneliness either. Maybe didn't even notice. He just swung and looked at the sun.

Cleared one of the benches of snow and sat down. Maybe looked funny wearing that white, childish coat and a brown beret. Did it matter?

Don't know why, started watching him with a corner of my eye. Middle height, neat brown hair. His features were tender, almost feminine, but his chin spoke of strong-willed nature.

Just swinging on the swings, without noticing anyone or anything. The swings made a quiet rhythmic squeak. Forgot about his existence soon and slumbered a little.

Woke up, when the sun was turning to the horizon. He was still in his place, like only moments had passed. Stood up, rubbed my frozen hands. It was time to go home.

Day Two
Came back again, didn't know why. Maybe the reason was the same - the patterns of the snow took the body, forsaken by mind, to that place forsaken by people.

He was there too, unchanged like the playground. Swinging, like the day before.

- Hello.

He opened his half-closed eyes and smiled a little.

- Hello,- he said.

Cleared the bench from the snow once again and sat down. His voice was mild and deep, but a strange thing happened - like it sounded in the head, and a moment later forgot how it sounded. But the feeling remained.

The wind was a bit cold. Saw that he was human too, he had wrapped himself tight in his coat. So he felt was cold too.

The sun warmed a little, but that made the sharp wind even harder to bear. Dug inside the coat and started to watch the surrouning. Black, withered trees were everywhere, outstretched to the sky like bony senile hands. Like they cursed the heavens for their misery.

And snow. So much you wouldn't see the end of it. Snow covered in chaotic, strange patterns, that captivated the mind those days.

Day Three
- Are you always here?

He lifted his eyes and smiled.

- Hello.

Felt a little confused, it was impolite to approach a stranger and ask strange questions without even saying "hello". But he didn't notice it or didn't show he noticed.

- I really spend a lot of time here these days. Strange, isn't it? I like it here. But you should understand me; you're not coming here to watch me either.

The weather was fine that day, no wind. Felt nice to feel the mild warmth of the sun.

He paused a little, then asked:

- If you want to swing, I'll help.

Mouth acted quicker than the mind.

- Sorry, I'm married.

Just a standard answer given to all men who tried to be friendly. Maybe wanted to believe in that failed marriage still.

He wasn't even surprised. Just looked with that piercing, kind look and said:

- Did I suggest a date? Just swing; if you want to.

- As you wish,- put as much ice in the voice as could. Wanted to? Didn't know anymore.

He stood up, the same calm man. Sat on the swings and stopped thinking. Again the same black trees and the illogical patterns of the snow, they fitted alright with the numb state of mind.

Only one thing had changed: the playground was no longer in stasis; it swung before my eyes.

He swung for some hours, not showing any sign of boredom. With each swing fell deeper and deeper into my slumber. Swinging white ground and black trees; was it all that remained of life?

Woke up when it started to get colder.

Got off the swings.

- Thank you.

- Never mind: I think I won't be wrong to say - till tomorrow.

Didn't answer.

Day Four
No need to say he was right. Didn't come for him, just did what had to do, and it couldn't go the other way around. Sat on the bench again and tried to follow the weird game of snow and trees, where even the wildest movements had frozen into stasis. There was something wrong in it, something artificial.

He was there - sitting on his swings as always, swinging. Went to him and said:

- Will you swing me?

He raised his eyes and smiled again.

- Hello. Of course. I thought you'd want to swing, but let you decide.

Day Five
- What is your name?

- Does it matter? You're married, and I'm leaving in two days.

The snow and the trees were less interesting now than this strange man.

- Leaving? Where? Why?

- It doesn't matter. Let's not spoil everything, okay?

- As you wish. Just keep swinging, okay?

Day Six
Mind was heavy, went to the playground that day. Knew would be seeing him for the last time. As always, he was sitting on the swings with that calm on his face - and swinging himself.

- You're leaving tomorrow?

- Hello. Yes, it's time to. I've been staying in the same place for too long. Time to move on.

- May I write to you?

- If you want to.

He stood up. Hugged him, buried my head in his coat. He hugged back. Lifted my face and tried to catch his lips with mine, didn't know why.

He put his finger on my lips and said.

- No need to. Don't spoil everything.

Started crying.

- Don't cry, please.

His eyes were wet too.

I asked:

- Will you swing me? Please?

His moves were passionate, but the old tenderness wasn't los.

- More, please. More. More...

The swinging became violent. I was weeping and laughing, lost in that miserable euphoria.

Day Seven
The playground was empty. The wind moved his swings, but they were as dead and empty, as the frozen snow and the tree-claws in their meaningless curse.

Cleared the bench of snow and sat down. Depressed. Waited for an hour and took out my phone, called his number. It was busy. Tried once more - same thing.

Then I understood. Looked at the number and saw - it was my own.

My sadness disappeared, now I knew I'd never have to miss him. I sat on the swings, my swings. And swung myself, pushing the ground with my foot.

Then I left the playground. It was time to move on.

© 2012 Bayandur Pogosyan

Author's Note

Bayandur Pogosyan
The original story might be one of my best-known Armenian-language short stories, I had some positive feedback from several literature communities.

http://iwl.me says the style is that of Arthur C. Clarke. Why? I have no idea:)

Strange to see how the mild erotic innuendo of the original story reads so open when written in English.

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Added on September 18, 2012
Last Updated on September 18, 2012
Tags: crisis, loneliness, self-esteem, short-story