lessons learnt in playground

Lessons Learned in the Playground by

From my desk I can see the children in the playground. Hear their chatter and laughter through the open window. They remind me of myself at their age. Happy and free. The girl on the swing is flying high. She’s nine or ten years old. She shoots her legs forward and back again with the rhythm of the swing, urging it upwards on each arc. It looks terrifying but she shows no fear.

Her friends are playing together. ‘Let’s pretend…’ one of them shouted and they all gathered round. They’re being superheroes saving the world with lots of yelling and jostling as they unleash their magical powers. That was when she walked away. ‘I don’t want to pretend,’ she’d said and headed off alone to the swings.

She doesn’t want to pretend. I loved make-believe games at her age, being a mermaid, an explorer in the Amazon rainforest or an astronaut on the moon; being whatever I wanted to be.

I’ve left the games behind but I’m still pretending. I pretend to be the daughter my parents want, the girlfriend my boyfriend wants, the employee my boss wants. I’m not what I want to be. I lack the courage of a nine-year-old playing her own game.

When the park is empty of children I walk to the swings and sit down on the rubber seat. I copy the girl. Legs push off and I move back, forward, back, forward, back. Soon I am flying as high as she was. I laugh even though the swing’s motion petrifies me. Forward and back, forward and back. My stomach flips so I stop propelling with my legs. The swing slows and soon I am sitting motionless, my feet on the ground. Safe again.

I don’t want to pretend. For the next few weeks after work, when the park is deserted, I visit the swings. As I swoop back and forth, I learn how to breathe under water. As I fly high, I learn how to navigate my way through the deepest jungle and, finally, while soaring to and fro, I learn to walk on the lunar surface.

I never see the girl again.





Lindsay Bamfield writes short stories and flash fiction and non-fiction articles. She has been published in a number of magazines, anthologies and literary websites including Dress You Up, (New Lit Salon Press) Hysteria 6 Anthology, Stories for Homes 2, and Mslexia,



Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash


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