*This story contains gory images and physical violence therefore it may be sensitive to some readers.*
Wishing I was on the swings
I know that I’m a little old for playgrounds. However, something about swinging on the swings excites me. Going up so far almost like you’re going to touch the clouds with your feet, then falling as if you’re going backwards off of a cliff. When I think of a playground, I think of kids happily yelling whilst chasing each other around in a game of tag. I think of parents sitting and watching while their kids spin on the merry go round. I think of the playground as a fun and exciting place, but tonight I couldn’t have been more wrong. I first noticed him when I was walking towards the playground to clear my head. As he was watching me walk on to the hard woodchips towards the swings, I didn’t think much of it. I simply thought he was also clearing his head or maybe getting some fresh air. It’s when he slowly started to creep toward me that I started to worry. One minute he was twenty feet away from me while I’m swinging on the swing set and the next, he was five feet away from me as I was just sitting in the swing gazing at the setting sun. It’s the thing he said that made me realize that I walked into a bad situation. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing out here all alone?” The question sending chills down my spine. As I’m sitting there terrified, I start calculating how long it would take me to run home, only then did I realize my house was five streets away and apparently, I didn’t think I needed to take my phone with me to the park. Coming to this understanding only terrified me more. I slowly got up from the swing and began backing away from him. He started to creep towards me, pulling a knife from the back pocket of dirty jeans. That’s when I kicked off running. Rushing around the seesaw and bolting toward the sandbox. Every corner I turn, he’s standing there with his knife. Up through the slide to the top of the castle, hyperventilating until my lungs can’t take it anymore. Darkness slowly taking over the sky making it hard to see. As I’m jumping down the ladder, I trip. Faceplanting into the hard woodchips. Feeling them splinter into my face. That was the most intense game of tag I’ve ever played. I heard his footsteps creep closer and as much as my lungs told me to stay down, I got up and ran. Tag quickly turned into hide and seek as I crouched in a bush behind the picnic tables. I prayed that he would give up and walk away. I hoped my parents would realize I’ve been gone longer than usual and come looking for me. Just as I thought he had finally left, he yelled to me. “Where are you pretty girl?” his voice sounded far away like it was on the furthest side of the castle. I thought now is my chance. I got up and ran towards the street to my house. I was running so hard that my legs began to ache and my lungs started burning like they were on fire. It was so dark and my mind was racing that I hadn’t realized I missed my turn. I couldn’t hear him behind me so I decided to stop and take a breath. Slowly coming to the realization of where I was, I saw that I’m in the middle of a roundabout at the very edge of my neighborhood. 2 more blocks from my house. I sit behind some shrubbery in the center of the circle to let my lungs take a break. Then I heard him. His heavy breathing and the loud sounds of his footsteps. “You’re a fast runner. However, not fast enough to lose me.” He sounded like he was right behind me so I gave up on trying to run. I hesitantly got up from the shrub and faced him. I started to say something when I heard my parents calling my name. I tried to yell back to them but he grabbed me by the neck, telling me not to say a word or I’d die. Fearing for my life, I did exactly as he told me to. He watched me start to cry as my parents yelling soon faded. In that moment I gave up, losing all hope in getting out of this. Then to my luck, a car came to circle the roundabout. The man quickly let me go and got behind me. As the woman in the car rolled down her window, he placed the point of the knife in my back daring me to ask for help. Through the tears in my eyes, I saw that the woman was actually my next-door neighbor. She asked me if I was okay and as the knife pushed deeper into my back, I told her I was perfectly fine. “Your parents are looking for you. Better hurry on home before they get too worried” she replied. Listening to her telling me my parents are looking for me made my heart shatter even more. I smiled and waved as she rolled up her window finishing the roundabout and driving away. I started sobbing begging him to let me go but that only made it worse. “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about”, he threatened as he grabbed my arm and started walking with the knife still poking my back. We walked back to the playground where I presumed his car was. Suddenly the knife was on my neck and he was telling me to keep still. I couldn’t figure out why he was doing that since I was walking and staying quiet like he told me. Then I saw them. My parents and my neighbor standing in the parking lot next to my neighbors’ car. My neighbor must have saw us walk towards the playground, coming to the conclusion that I was in need of help and told my parents. Parked next to them was a beat-up truck with a cracked windshield and a broken mirror. Assuming that was the man’s truck, I wondered why I didn’t see it there before. I glanced over at the swings and wished none of this happened, wishing I was on the swings instead of having a knife against my throat. As my parents started walking closer, the man pushed the knife deeper into my neck drawing blood. He warned them to stay back saying he’d kill me if they took another step. I looked at my dad crying and said “It’s okay. I’ll be okay. It’ll all be okay.” Saying that made my mom start to cry and my dad pulled out a pistol. He pointed it at the man that is now making blood run down my chest. The last thing I heard was a gun shot, then the whole world went silent. I was on the ground looking at the stars feeling warm liquid cover my body. I started imagining myself swinging on the swings so high I could touch the stars as the world went black. Then suddenly I’m in the hospital with no idea of how I got here. Still blurry eyed from waking up I notice my mom and neighbor are in the room but not my dad. I try to ask where dad is but it comes out all jumbled, it hurt to speak. I raise my hand to my neck and feel a bandage where the man’s knife was held. Looking at my mom with questioning eyes, she starts sobbing and excuses herself out of the room. My gaze falls onto my neighbor who is holding back tears. Slowly walking over and sitting on the edge of my bed, she tells me what happened. I feel myself start to cry making the pain in my neck grow worse. She explains that after the man cut my throat, my dad shot him then rushed to keep pressure on my wound. Unfortunately, the first bullet didn’t kill the man and he got up to knife my dad in the back. My dad shot him once more finishing the deed while continuing to keep pressure on my neck until the ambulance arrived. While I’m gasping for air, the next words that came from her mouth made me feel physically sick. I lost a lot of blood and the stab wound was too deep, puncturing one of my dad’s major organs and was therefore killing my dad. So, in a last attempt to save my life, he gave me his blood. We were a perfect match. Still sobbing from what my neighbor just told me, she left the room telling me she’ll give me some privacy while she finds my mom. Once she left, and my crying stopped, I laid back and fell asleep. Finally feeling calm and at peace, I dreamt of myself swinging on the playground touching the clouds.