The slide was a finalist in the Grief Awareness Month ‘Grieve’ Short Story competition.
The Grieve anthology is published by the Hunter Writers Centre and available for purchase through Amazon.
There is no one here today. They have vanished like he did. Only ghosts remain. The swing creaks in the rising wind. Backward, forward, in and out. It moves on the strained breath of a fading life; a tortured soul that drags a chain and haunts this place.
There it is. The slide. How could something so plastic and yellow deliver so much pain? Now I want to tear it from its mounts and hurl it out of sight.
It was only a minute he was gone. A brief interruption to his circuit. First he would trip through the damp pine bark, then disappear behind the steps, and finally emerge triumphant. A red, pom-pommed beanie capped the smile of a mini Hillary. He came at the slide with a cautious approach. A squeal of delight. A daredevil-drop.
A frail voice interrupted.
“Do you know where the post office is?” Asked the silver-topped man.
I was distracted. “Post office? ”
“They said it was down this way.”
I pointed to the row of shops.
“Over there. Near the newsagent.”
I turned back. Waited. He didn’t appear. I ran to where he should be. No sign. My heart plunged head first down a perilous decline. I called his name and scanned the park in search of a bobbing red pom-pom. The scream of burning tyres spoke for his silence. He was now found; restful under the gaze of sightless headlights.
As I lay beside him, my sobs matched the ashen wail of sirens. Above, outside, removed from my body. A shattered fragment. The image is a jagged shard. One of a multitude that lacerate my sleep. Screeching tyres, sobs, sirens, hospital, memoriam. Torn from sleep. Night after night I explore the event from every angle. The trauma of reliving, amplifies the distress of the event. My life is now on its own slippery slide.
I come here for answers but there are none. A wave of ‘should haves’ flood me. We should’ve gone for lunch; should’ve left earlier; should’ve been on the swings. Should’ve, should’ve, should’ve. Stones of blame batter my thoughts. Bruised, I am left to contemplate a life cut short and the ‘could haves.’
The atmosphere draws heavy as a grey storm gathers like the clouds of sorrow that darken my mind. I lost a part of me that day. The sky cries cold tears. Whipped by the wind they burn into my skin. I stand in the rain. A torrent; each drop streams to the river of inner pain. My soul soaked. Today’s sadness washed away.