A Forgotten Friend
One of the most peaceful times in a four-year-old’s life, as well as their parents, includes nap time. My parents always made sure that my sister, Kelly, and I had a sufficient amount of sleep during the day. Once we fell asleep, they became almost inaudible throughout our down time. This typically occurred anyways until one afternoon in spring.
The new season had just begun rolling in, bringing with it lilac-covered buds on our mother’s favored Crape Myrtle, the newly sprouted fresh blades of grass , and that distinct spring time breeze that sauntered into our room through an open window and scrambled our circus animal wind chimes that gave off just the right amount of soft clatter. But the clatter didn’t awake me that day. The noise pronounced itself as a rhythmic bang that had a slightly muffled tone and paused at random intervals. A dominant instinct at that time took over: to look for Baby Bop, my favorite childhood character and mandatory traveling partner. She lay right beside me where I had left her with her scratched, black acrylic eyes, apparent faded ears, and bald spot just above her right leg that had enlarged over time due to my nervous picking of her fur.
I stretched, yawned, and rubbed my eyes to restore my once fuzzy vision. Kelly and I shared a bunk bed and because of the age difference, I claimed the top bunk. Routinely, I grasped the safety railing and leaned over just far enough so I could make sure Kelly remained in her rightful place. There she lay, with the capability to sleep through a tornado and not even flinch.
With that, I tucked Baby Bop under my arm and climbed down the step ladder that rested at the foot of my bed to investigate the cause of my nap disturbance,
My parents chose to buy that house because of its large back yard, in hopes of one day having children to frolic and play in it. The sea of green had wide spread dimensions, stretching nearly half an acre and sprinkled with dandelions. Toward the edge of the yard sat my dog’s fenced in dog house, overgrown with sweet honey-suckle. Just beyond that, a wall of Leland Cypresses, grown from a couple of four-foot tress my parents had planted years ago. On the other side sat an ancient tree, a refuge, which provided many square footage of shade on those much-in-need-of-a-cold-Popsicle-and-shade-days. I knew every inch of my backyard; after all I spent most of my time out there.
So when I arrived at my sliding screen door that opened up to my giant and endless playground, it took me by surprise to see my parents hammering away on some foreign object. After peering through the door for a while, I saw a brand new play set! My excitement level reached its tiptop peak, and I didn’t even worry about ruining the surprise. I just had to become closer to my new play mate. With both arms, I used all my four-year-old strength to open the screen door and shot outside, the cool breeze colliding with my smiling face and Baby Bop dangling by one leg from my hand.
Born an observer, this gave my eyes a special treat! I don’t remember much, but I do remember a long bright yellow slide that had a wave-like figure that took me up and down on my journey to the bottom. Two swings, accompanied by a hanging monkey bar gleamed in the sunlight, the rubber protective covering on the chains looking completely irresistible. I recall large bolts that held magnificent structure and a rainbow roof made of tarp-like material sheltering the entire thing. My parents noticed my presence and said, “Well, what do you think?” as they wiped drops of sweat from their brow.
I know I have spent countless hours on that play set and that it took my creative mind on adventures that money can’t buy. Now, that great joy sits in my current back yard. I haven’t played on it in years. The slide now has a mustard yellow complexion and gathers more fallen leaves everyday. The wooden framework continues to rot and the tarp had faded and torn. I’ll never forget the day I saw that play set and those wings that once took me soaring above the clouds. Those same swings now only move in the spring-time breeze.