Behind my brother's house, a perfect hill rises up past the neighborhood fence. It's a backyard for wealthier people, accidentally visible from the porches of the more average. The hill is steep, and you'll have to either climb that impassable fence or find the secluded entrance for those stately homes before you can even reach its base. And he has never climbed it. My brother only points to a tree and mentions the swing.
One day, I'm gonna climb that hill and swing like a kid.
It looks dangerous, I say, ever the first-born.
It looks fun, he says, ever the little brother.
I look closely, picking out the shape of the swing from the shadows of the trees.
There are two swings, I say.
The first is a red board, tied to a rope hanging from a tree near the top.
The second is a wooden seat, lying in the dirt under a broken and frayed length of rope.
I tell my brother this, but he can't see it. Neither can his wife. I'm the only one that can make out the second swing.
I'm the only one who wonders at the story of a broken rope at the top of a steep hill.
A brother and a sister furtively hike to the gated neighborhood bordering their own. They walk to the back and climb the hill from the side that's never faced them before. Two children, undaunted by fences, wander wherever they please in the afternoons. There is no question of should we over the tantalizing tree swings. Of course they should.
A brother swings forward and back.
A sister swings forward and snap.
She doesn't exactly go flying, but she never catches herself. There is a bounce, a break, a bounce, blood, a bounce, a bone. And the bottom.
And then there is only one swing. Then there is only a brother.
Still he says he will climb that perfect hill and swing that tantalizing rope. Still, I am the only one who can see the broken swing. I am the only one who can hear my big sister warnings.