Jungle Gym of Love, by L. Anne Wooley
There she is... that red headed girl. My secret love. She is so pretty...and graceful...and smart. She is taller than me. "Willowy," is a word used by Miss Johnson my teacher. Daddy would say, "She hangs the moon." He explained to me, that was a figure of speech. It meant that whomever was saying it about the other, was in love with that other person. The moon is a symbol of love. It made more sense when Daddy said it. Yes, she hangs my moon.
I watch her swing from one rung to the next...and the next, effortless. While others can only hang on one rung, then drop. I sit about 30 feet away, on the swings, gazing upon her.
She swings her legs up between the rungs, and bends them around the bar. The upper part of her feet hold her in place on the next rung over. She lets go and hangs only with her feet and knees. Her long hair catches the sun, as if it were on fire.
She sways back and forth, her hair whips behind her, and she looks over at me. My heart skips a beat, and she blinks. She then blows me a kiss, winking. She whispers my name, and she tells me, "You are the only one for me Seamus Egan.... Then we are on the beach, we are running hand and hand...
"Hey Bookworm!" the sneering voice told me I had company. Toby Boyd is five feet five inches, to my four feet two inches. His hair is a shaggy dirt brown, which matches his eyes (as I've been that close). He is not gargantuan...a word I've had to spell...and is pretty clumsy. And I was sickly, asthma is my downfall. I always carried a rescue inhaler with me. It sucked not being able to play normally with the other kids. But Toby Boyd, he has no such infirmity. He is dangerous at close range. I choose to ignore the cretin.
"Hey Bookworm," the sneer in his voice deepened into a mean chuckle. The answering chuckles told me my arch nemesis Toby Boyd was not alone. I could hear my Mama's voice telling me, "...to ignore bullies Seamus. They are beneath you. They are unworthy of your attention."
I lean forward on my swing and I look toward the main part of the playground. The playground monitor should be somewhere close by; but, of course, the monitor was on the other side of the playground. And I have asthma, running is out of the question.
A sudden shove, and I am airborne. My glasses preceding me to the ground. I reach out with my hands to break my fall. I feel them scrape the blacktop as I came crashing down. They sting as I reach out to pick up my glasses, and I decide I'm better off on the ground. I now think that it is a good time to try to talk him out of hurting me more.
"Hey Toby. Why do you pick on me? What did I ever do to you?"
Toby Boyd ignores me. Instead he says, "What are you looking at Bookworm?" Tobys eyes narrow, and I feel like I'm a bug, who is about to get squashed. "You think you are so much better than us! Always showing Miss Johnson how much you know! Teachers pet!"
"So you don't like me because I don't dumb myself down to your level?" I couldn't help it...it was out before I could take it back. The 'Teachers Pet' was a low blow however. Nobody wants to be singled out by a Teacher!
Toby Boyds hand curled into a fist. I could see the knobs where his fingers bent. The skin tight and whiter than the rest of the surrounding skin.. I steel myself for a blow and close my eyes tight.
"Splat," following closely by "thud," and I cautiously open my eyes. I see red hair in front of me. I hear sobbing, and I lean to my right, to see around the red headed girl, and see Toby Boyd who is now on the ground. Fascinated, I see blood seep between his fingers. His buddies helped him up, and they all run to the school building.
I straighten again, and red head turns around. I know every line of her, every freckle as if she had a face full of stars. I knew then, we were destined to be together for always. She asks, "Are you all right Seamus?"
I nod and feel my heart beat faster. I feel my face break out into a blush. "She knows my Name!"
"You better get those hands checked out by the school nurse.... you have some pretty nasty scrapes there." She smiles and then turns to walk away.
I feel stupid, I gotta say something! "Thank you Maggie Morse."
She looks over her shoulder and winks, "You are most welcome Seamus Egan."