The One-Way Swing

The one-way swing looked like any other. That was half the problem. Not one batted eye until the children started disappearing. We shook down the alley cats first, as they see everything. The calicos were uncooperative, but the solids all suggested the witch. We stopped inviting her to barbeques, not wanting to be too harsh on just hearsay. When nothing came of it we upturned her geraniums and found sapphires and bottle caps fused to the roots. It was something, but it wouldn’t hold up in court. The marching committee suggested a march. The flyering committee suggested more flyering. The committee committee suggested fewer committees and more searching as we’d lost five children during the meeting. Now robbed of his one true calling, the treasurer of the arithmetic committee sulked towards the playground to count abandoned gloves. The head of the marching committee followed and since he possessed a walk of such distinct authority, the town hall fell in step behind him. (He’d been asked weeks ago by the mayor to only walk at night as the constant spontaneous parades he trailed in his wake were causing quite a traffic problem.) We came upon the dejected treasurer mid-swing. We were already too late. Some say they saw a flash of light. Some say they saw him sprout wings from the pleats of his seersucker and take to the skies. One woman says she saw Jesus, but she’s been injecting deities into recounted events for years so no one pays her much mind. The crowd fell into a hush when he disappeared, the seat of the swing jangling wildly from its chains. Someone called for a ladder and the fire truck came blasting through. After an hour of fruitlessly stirring the clouds, we went home. A week later, the committee for yellow tape (which now met secretly in the storm drains like all the others) wove a web around the swing set. Days passed, weeks. The children never returned. Word circulated that the treasurer had been spotted in Tucson counting sugar packets in a retro-themed diner but it turned out to be a dead end. A film was screened in the elementary school health class denouncing the swing in the hopes of sparing more innocents. It was a success, for the most part. Now we only lose one or two a year, usually middle aged men with a penchant for building model planes or young girls in white dresses who don’t seemed thrilled by anything at all.

Published in Gigantic Sequins 2010.

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