Hi, guys! A couple weeks ago, I was watching The Bridge to Terabithia on Netflix (it made me cry, by the way). It inspired this short story, which took me about an hour to write after I had finished the movie. I hope you guys enjoy it!
The swing moves gently with the wind that rushes through the trees, making the branches sway and the new spring leaves whisper. Sunlight dives through the treetops, dappling the grass with patterns of light and shadows.
Sudden laughter shatters the quiet stillness that hangs in the air. Two children, perhaps eight or nine years old, burst noisily into the clearing, giggling as they pant from their run.
“Push me, Robert,” the girl says, sitting on the swing, carefully so as to not crumple her dress.
“Why can’t you push me for once?” the boy complains good-naturedly, but obliging her request.
She laughs. “You’re the gentleman, and I’m the lady. Ladies don’t push the gentlemen. It’s the other way around.”
“I know that, Helen,” Robert says, smiling. “I was just teasing you.”
Helen’s laughter, charming in its childishness, again rings out across the clearing.
* * *
Soft white moonlights pours through the trees, illuminating the wooden seat of the swing that sways in the breeze. The summer heat lies thickly in the air, even at this hour. The song of crickets is a serenade of the night, occasionally accompanied by the hoot of an owl.
Added to the nocturnal tranquility are slow, quiet footsteps and the murmur of hushed voices punctuated by an occasional low laugh.
Two figures enter the clearing, their features murky in the dim light.
The first, a young woman wearing a pale blue dress, seats herself in the swing.
“Push me, Robert,” she says with a laugh, turning her face towards that of her companion.
“I am at your command, O queen,” he replies, bowing low to the ground.
“Oh, stop it,” she laughs as Robert begins to push.
“But, Helen, you are my queen,” he protests with a smile. “Or at least…you will be one day soon.”
The swing stops its motion abruptly as Helen plants her feet on the ground. She stands and turns to face Robert, placing her hands on the ropes.
“He said yes?” she asks breathlessly, her face aglow with hope.
“He said yes.”
Helen’s laughter, no longer childish, breaks the stillness of the night. She comes around the swing and throws her arms around Robert, who returns the embrace with one of his own.
Raising her face to the night sky, she cries, “I’m getting married!”
* * *
No longer oppressive in its heat, sunshine spills through the trees, lighting the ground on fire. A breath of wind, now chilly rather than hot, blows across the clearing, setting the swing to swaying.
Leaves crunch, releasing their musty autumn aroma, as a young woman dressed entirely in black enters the clearing. Her steps are slow and heavy, laden as she is with the weight of another life inside her.
She seats herself heavily on the swing and wraps her long, slender fingers around the ropes. The sun glints off of something on her left hand, showering her face with tiny sparkles of light.
She closes her eyes, shutting out the brightness of the sun and the vivacity of the world around her, a world that no longer holds color for her.
She begins to swing gently, back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
“Push me, Robert,” she whispers, and a tear falls to the ground.
* * *
The old wooden swing hangs empty now, swaying from the touch of an invisible hand, the harsh breath of a winter wind. Snow envelopes the seat and clings to the ropes that hold it up on either side.
It creaks as it moves, groaning from the memory of happier times. The sound is jarring in the quietness of winter’s hush.
The surrounding ground and all the trees around it are also covered with snow, fresh from the storm that came the night before. It hides the ground from the viewer’s eye like a secret not yet come to light.
But if you were to go to one side of the swing, the one right by the old oak tree from which it hangs, and if you were to brush aside the snow there, you would find a grave. At its head would be a stone set level with the ground, engraved with these words:
Helen Elizabeth Cherry King
Wife of Robert Erwin King
Mother of Lena Victoria King
As a note about the names: All of them are family names on my mom’s side. My grandfather’s name was Robert Erwin Farnham. My grandmother is Helen Victoria King Farnham. Her mother was Lena. There was an Eliza Cherry at some not-too-distant point in the family tree, hence the name Elizabeth.