Words by Sarah Herrmann
Her bare toes meandered through the red dust. Eyes glazed over and staring through the earth below, a bony tail entered her vision. Sphynx cats swirled themselves against the towering, electric-blue poles.
“Can you hear me, cats?”
They kept swirling, meowing intermittently. The cats inched closer and closer to her ankles, but never touched the skin there. Her limbs prickled from the increasingly bitter wind. She swung to warm them. The chains creaked. Rust fell from the sky. The rubber seat cut lesions into her thighs. She had been there for hours, days, months now. Yesterday. Today. And all the days to come. None of it mattered now.
The playground was deserted. Why had no one come looking? She could not leave. Not now. She was finally free — despite the cuffs around her wrists, tightened to the loops in the chains of the swing set. She did not remember how she had arrived there or why she had stayed so long. But she knew she was special.
“I’m special. Aren’t I?”
The cats had begun climbing the poles now, too intent on clawing their way up to respond. Oh, she had always despised cats anyway.
Such idiots they were, she thought as she pumped her legs harder. They were scratching away at the set — made of a material for which their paws were simply inapt. Their faces were contorted with strain as they flailed up the slope, never reaching the summit. Bodies tumbled down the cold and unforgiving steel and crashed into the dirt. They would lick their wounds and begin the voyage again. See? Idiots.
She was swinging quite high now. The set was rocking and knocking the cats off before they were even a quarter of the way along the pole. Christ, they were boring! She would never be that boring again. And so tragic! She thought as the swing shook harder in the wind. The sky had started to spit. And the cats were meowing louder, squirming at the feel of raindrops on their noses, and finding refuge in a nearby shed. That’s what made her and them such enemies.
“Well, I love the rain!”
Exhilaration rushed through her as she mocked them, flying further and further in her seat. She knew now that the world could and would go on around her, although her own world was burning, and she could and would not care. Despite how utterly cruel it was, and how easily she could end up back there. Caring.
“How utterly cruel is that?!”
She hollered at the cats. They were listening now.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
She was screaming at the clouds. Suddenly overcome, she closed her eyes and tipped her head back.
“God! Why have you forsaken me?”
She was still swinging violently. The cats were shivering in their hut.
She felt the world tip forwards and her eyes snapped opened. It was raining blood then. And the swing set was falling.
She wailed as the electric-blue poles and the rusty chains collapsed with a mighty boom. In the red dust where her bare toes had meandered. Yesterday. Today. And all the days to come. None of it mattered now.