Swinging in the Rain

A summery spring day was sinking to its knees. No rain for once. I'm alone. My wife is off again to see her brother who is inching his way to the grave—in hospital and out. So alone I go to an end-of-term, end-of-program, beginning-of-life celebratory art exhibit at the college up the hill.

Dressed up (so as not to embarass the young lady who so kindly invited me to this culmination of her Master of Fine Arts' effort) and trudging (after a sticky, dragging, wearisome day) breathing heavy now, moving like sludge uphill, I reach the hall spilling over with the aimless stir of many people of culture and cultivation pondering art work on wall, ceiling and floor.

Mostly youthful attention-grasping efforts. Except for my young lady's artful and politically pungent wall-hangings that map the results of unbridled greed on the globe. The only other artifact to catch my eye, and it accomplished it so modestly, was an immense electric wall plate housing—was it twenty ?—was it thirty?—no, a battalion of light switches. I gaze awhile to be sure I'm not being duped by another o-so-clever work of art.

Navigating through the surging sea of commenting critics I at last step outside only to find heaven's sluice gates have burst open again and a rain is falling that is going to soak me to my underwear before I reach my car. Now it dawns why so many commenting critics were clinging to umbrellas.

A line has formed under the portico, a line without umbrellas. There is general disapproval of the vagaries of weather. In ones and twos and threes they go—dashing like soldiers under fire. I search for a shortcut. Alas, I too must become a soldier.

Though a relief and joy to a farmer, rain is an affliction to a man in a suit. Such an imposition, such an inconvenience. In a world where there are so many more important things to do than getting wet.

Muttering disreputable curses I yank open my car door and throw my suit and flesh in a bundle onto the seat. The presence of a neat and compact, checkered umbrella right by my emergency brake provides a pinch of mockery to the moment.

So off I drive. But as I'm swishing past the park I spot a solitary figure, that of a girl, a young girl, a woman. Hard to tell which. She is on a swing. The only person in the damp and darkening park.

She leans back so contentedly. She has been well rained on and doesn't appear to be in any hurry to avoid more of the same. Her blouse and skirt cling to her. Her long black hair is glistening. She is swinging on her swing in great, sweeping, uplifting arcs.

I took my foot off the pedal. There was a long line of empty swings. No kids on the slides. No dogs on the grass. I press the brake. There's just her. A live one on a swing.

I nearly stop the car. Not to start a relationship. Just to talk to her, to see the gleam in her eye, to learn a little something about her. But I thought better of it, or worse. I simply sensed that talk would have spoiled the picture. Even getting too close would spoil it. It was the perfect distance and she was perfect just as she was.

I passed by, glanced out the rear view mirror and without making a decision I let the car go around the block.

Sure enough she was still swinging.

 

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