The following entry comes from acting contributor Leahpeah, and I am pleased as all hell to welcome her here for her second guest post, because this creativity-killing virus I have contracted has fallen in love with me, and our breakup is proving to be an excruciatingly slow and painful process.
When the girl came home, there was no one in the house. After walking through the kitchen to the backyard, she shut the door gently behind her, not wanting to disrupt the vibe of the early evening.
The sun was just a tiny slice from setting. It shone brilliantly, radiantly, directly over the barn, the beginnings of color promising to pierce in seconds. She smiled, quietly to herself, thankful to be alone in this moment, her favorite time of day. The dragonflies were just beginning their dance, their bodies back-lit, sharing their beat and rhythm while they chased and feasted on the tiny gnats gathering in clouds above the trampoline.
Delicately making her way through the grass and clover, the girl took her place on the swing. The swing in the center. The blue swing. The swing just slightly higher than the other two. The swing her big sister pushed her on before she left for college over a month ago. It was the best swing and she tried never to sit in any other, quietly waiting near the sandbox while her brother finished his turn rather than climb on the ones on either side. But not today. Today she was alone and didn't have to wait for anyone.
She sat down and reached her arms slightly up and grabbed the chains on either side. Deliberately pushing with one bare toe, she slowlyincreased her speed until the motion created a slow and calming creak-creak, creak-creak and she shut her eyes, feeling the warmth of the setting sun on her face, a quiet, tiny smile on her lips.
She kept her eyes closed, imagining the colors instead of actually looking at them. Right about now there would be a swelling of Mother's Sunday lipstick coming up from the top of the mountain, whose mighty flat top just peeked over the top of the barn. Next, a sharp burst of her sister's scarf along the red and turning into coral in between. On either side would be the deep ocean she'd seen in pictures inside the fattest book on the bottom shelf in the living room, with columns of the Morning Glory blossoms on the vine cutting in between them all. And finally, the end of the show would be patches of her favorite quilt made of white and yellow checks. It was perfect and if you looked very, very closely, you could see her tiny smile increase just a teeny bit.
The heat on her face cooled and she knew the colors would be almost gone. She felt the wind, who had been lifting her hair during her glorious journey, remove his fingers ever so slowly until he was gone, as her swing made its way to stillness, the creak-creaking vanishing and echoing in her ears. She opened and then looked with her eyes, taking in the entire backyard at once in all its glory.
Near the apple trees to the left she saw a figure. A man. Her father. He had the shovel and the hose and was busy watering and packing the reservoirs in the orchard. He had his shirt untucked and his work boots were encrusted with red mud. Was it possible he had been there the entire time while she flew through the air and painted in her mind? How could that have been? Her father took the shovel and with a grunt, shoved the tip into the ground near his right foot. He placed the hose near the trunk of the closest tree, allowing the water to fill, slowly, determinedly, higher and higher, licking the parched, peeling ground. And then he placed his left hand up to his nose, closed one nostril and violently blew air out the other side, dislodging a large snot missile that flew towards the ground, splashing in the puddle with a mighty thunk.
As her father replaced his worn work glove and grabbed the handle of the shovel, pulling it out of the dirt, she knew with all certainty that he had not been there while she had been flying in the sunset. Impossible. She would have known. But tomorrow, she'd look around more carefully before allowing herself to be seen in such vulnerable terms.