This edition has a new look. Having had the same look since 2006, it was time for a change. There are a few more to come.
The works here represent diverse perspectives on the subject matter at hand. Each is creative and interesting. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I have.
Each issue, I will share one original work of my own... but you don't have to read it!
Ellen stood at the back door and looked at the swing. The
strong autumn breeze pushed it back and forth and she imagined she could
hear the children's laughter: Hal Jr.'s loud bellows and Anna’s soft
giggles. Hal had put the swing there for them and then hopefully for
their children. He didn’t live to see any of them grow up.
claimed him finally on a night much like this one some fifteen years
ago. Ellen had opened their bedroom window so he could feel the crisp
fall air across his wasted face. He’d asked whether she thought Mother
Nature’s paintbrush had worked her magic again and she, looking out at
the oranges and reds of the maple tree, agreed that indeed the paint
brush had been especially masterful.
For about an hour that evening they’d talked, until he felt parched and wanted a glass of water.
before you go,” he’d said, in a voice that was like a whisper on the
wind, “promise me that after I’m gone, you won’t let that swing sit
idle. If you ever want to talk to me, just go to the swing.” She’d
nodded and drew herself up into a tight ball inside.
She knew he
was saying goodbye and she could not bear it. Deep in her heart she knew
that when she returned to the room, he would be gone, soaring to
heights the swing would never reach.
Without looking back or
calling out to him, she took off her apron and walked into the yard. She
sat on the swing and moved as if her beloved were sitting with her as
always. Anyone looking that night would have thought her mad, with her
dress flapping, deep rivers of tears flowing from her eyes.
fifteen years she’d gotten used to being a widow, making a life out of
what remained. She raised the children, saw them through college. She
celebrated their birthdays, weddings and rejoiced in the births of her
With each new development whether major
celebrations like these or minor occasions liked the scraped knees, PTA
meetings or getting herself a job - she made a pilgrimage to the
backyard and settled onto the swing. This is where she felt closest to
Hal. It didn’t matter how good or bad the weather, she talked to him
Tonight was no different.
Ellen had decided
to remarry. A chance meeting at her high school reunion had led her to
John a man she had barely known in their senior year. She remembered him
as a gawky boy with bad skin and big glasses. A widower, he’d grown
into a tall, handsome man who wore contacts.
At the reunion, he’d
asked her out to dinner at the new French restaurant where they talked
for almost until closing. She had no idea how he felt but she knew she’d
felt such giddiness only once before in her whole life and with only
one man. She had never allowed herself to think it could happen again.
dinner led to other happy dates and eventually getting married seemed
like the only thing to do. Happily she would be leaving the house that
had grown so large and ill fitting around her. Sadly she would be
leaving behind her beloved swing.
Helen knew deep
inside that the swing had been only a means to think through her
problems; that Hal was no more there than anyplace else on earth except,
of course, in her heart. But she also knew that because of his final
advice, the swing had given her time to shake off some of the sadness
and seriousness of her widowed life. It had allowed her many moments of
happiness. Because of the swing she had been able to put her life back
together after Hal’s death. And now that she was leaving, Ellen tried to
think of all the ways she could possibly thank Hal.
it was time to go, Ellen took one last look around the house and then
walked out to her special spot. She stayed so long that Charles had to
go out and see about his wife who was fiddling with the swing. He took
her hand and they made their way to the car. When they drove away, they
looked only forward. Ellen hoped the house would not be empty long.
long after, the new family moved in. While eating dinner, the little
boy pointed to something glittering in the yard. Curious his parents put
down their forks, picked up the little boy, ventured out to where the
swing was moving, as if pushed by unseen hands. There they spotted, on
the seat back of the swing, the source of the shine: A golden engraved
plaque which read:
There isn’t any problem
there isn’t any thing,
that can’t be thought out
back and forth
from right here on this swing!
With Love and Peace from Ellen and Hal
To You and Yours 2015
placed the little boy on the swing and sat on either side of him. They
began to swing, slowly, gently: The mother supporting the boy to prevent
a fall, the father's arm stretched around both of them.
although they didn’t know it at the time, a lifetime of thinking was
ahead of them... And it would all happen right there under the maple
tree, right there on the swing.
When the boy's little baby teeth formed a smile and his
laughter filled the air like balloons racing across the sky, they knew
for sure that this house had already become home.
Written by Pamela Tyree Griffin
Photograph by Kristine Beebe