The Swing

Her message said to meet at sunset at the playground behind his mother’s old apartment. They hadn’t been there for years – what could she want? All the worst possibilities ran through his head on high repeat. She was pregnant, she had met someone else, she had found out that he had embellished a little about his football prowess. God, he hoped she wasn’t pregnant – they were only yet students – and he crossed himself as he passed into the courtyard.

She was already there, sitting on the swings, her feet dragging in the dirt. He waved at her, but she couldn’t see him yet. As he walked toward her, he wondered why she had chosen this place. The bar by the sandpit was closed for the winter and, without their parents to bring them, there were no children. Surely this was a sign – his mother’s old apartment, this closed playground. Certainly she was pregnant! His heart sank inside him. Well, they would manage. He had only a year of his diploma left. She could give up her studies and move in with him and his mother in the suburbs. It was okay there. She had a small garden and a few chickens.

“Hey, bok!” she said, jumping up from the swing. She ran over to him and kissed him. “What’s wrong?” she said.

“Nothing,” he said. He took her in his arms and gave her a long hug. He could feel her quivering in the cold, like there were bubbles bubbling up inside her. Oh how women changed when motherhood was impending.

They went and sat on the swings and she pushed herself off and up.

“Do you remember,” she said. “When we used to come here as teenagers and chase your little sister around?”

“Yeah. God she was annoying.”

“She was okay. And remember you said you were going to be a teacher and I was going to be an ambassador? Well, guess what? I got the scholarship! I’m going to Maastricht!”

She swung herself up higher and higher, delirious with happiness, and his heart sank lower and lower.

That house in the suburbs wasn’t so bad, you know, not bad at all.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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