(Originally published on Blipfillypicklepoo.blogspot.com on 8/2/2011 – edited for this publication)
Frankie moved down the street at a sprint – her eyes were closed. She knew this neighborhood like the back of her hand – maybe even better. She could hear the wind, other kids laughing and yelling, birds chirping, leaves rustling in the breeze and the city bus groaning into action after having deposited someone at the street corner. The contrast between the cool spring wind and the soft warm touch of the sun on her face was exhilarating.
She ran past the stand of lilac bushes at the end of the block tasting their sweet fragrance. Opening her eyes she took an extra long stride as she turned the corner past the lilacs to avoid the broken patch of sidewalk. Her heart pounded and threatened to burst from the run but she kept on going – past Mr. Smith’s yard with the chronic sprinkler and Sam the beagle baying at her passage, past old Mrs. Murphy’s with the “stay off the grass” sign, past the Conway house with the children all too young to leave the yard and too numerous to be kept inside on such a day – they called to her and she smiled and waved as she raced by.
She looked briefly down at her feet and saw the new blue Keds with the super-white laces – they really did make her run faster, jump higher, go farther. On she went, plaid pleated skirt and white blouse flapping around her. One more corner and then the final leg of the jaunt that would bring her to the Rosewood Elementary School playground. Frankie loved coming to the playground when school wasn’t in session. It seemed like such a daring thing to do and there weren’t nearly as many kids vying for a swing. She got to the swing set and skidded on the pea-gravel under the swings. Situating herself on her favorite swing, she began to pump her rubbery legs to get going as high as she could. In a matter of a minute she felt like she was flying and she leaned back and closed her eyes. The world turned upside down and Frankie’s face broke into a broad smile. She licked beads of sweat off her upper lip.
She stopped pumping her legs and just enjoyed the sensation, the gentle arc she drew in her small corner of the playground – the weightlessness and then the realization that very soon the swing would come to a stop and once again she would be grounded. She held on to the last bit of motion the swing was willing to shell out and then opened her eyes, dismounted and started walking – back to siblings, chores, dinner around a table with the people she most wanted to be like and liked by… and her Keds suddenly kicked her into high gear, pounding the pavement as Frankie moved toward home and all its comforts.