The old swing moved slowly back and forth, propelled only by the wind. The rusty hinges, which held it fast to the beams, protested loudly at the unfamiliar activity.
The swing hung in what was once a lovely Gazebo, covered with climbing roses. Perhaps its color had once been white or maybe a soft yellow. Now the paint had flaked away, leaving the wood exposed to the weather. Now the roses were dead, their brittle brown vines still weaving among the latticework up one side.
The old Gazebo shivered with each small breath of wind, its timbers frail and rotting. Time had demanded payment and the Gazebo had reluctantly given forth.
Memories of days gone past swirled ghost-like across the Gazebo’s floor. A young man with laughing eyes and his new bride snuggled next to him. Their happy chatter, loving caresses, hopeful planning.
The ghosts danced, shifted, morphed and flowed. Now a new mother sat in the swing, singing softly to the bundle in her arms. Her face was alight with joy, the sun streaming through the roses. The scent of spring drifted through the air and life was good.
Children ran laughing in the sunshine, playing hide and seek behind the latticework, peeking through the roses that covered the clinging vines. A boy with thick dark curls. His younger sister, her hair in braids hanging past her shoulders. Stifling giggles behind dirty hands, they crept quietly around the Gazebo and surprised each other on the opposite side. Dashing quickly away, they vanished into an old shed, only to reappear moments later their hair filled with sprigs of hay.
A young man of sixteen sat quietly in the swing, his feet brushing the now-worn boards of the Gazebo floor. “I’m sorry,” a woman’s soft voice said as someone joined him. “I’m truly sorry. The doctor tried but there was just nothing he could do.”
The young man lifted his head, tears streaming down his face and gazed up into the eyes of an older woman. He took a shaky breath then shrugged.
“Your sister needs you,” the woman went on, her voice betraying the emotion that threatened to spill out. “She’s having a very hard time with this.”
The young man nodded woodenly and wiped his cheeks, then stood reluctantly.
“The funeral will be day after tomorrow,” the woman said as she escorted him from the Gazebo.
“What’s going to happen to us?” the young man asked, his voice breaking in mid-sentence.
“You’ll be coming to live with me,” the woman replied as they walked away. “Your sister will be staying with Aunt Margaret. Things will be alright, you’ll see.”
Clouds covered the sky and rain drizzled down upon the landscape. A small group of black-clad people stood silently under wide umbrellas. Words too faint to reach the swing floated up into the air and drifted away.
At last, the crowd drew aside and stood waiting as pall-bearers lifted first one, then a second casket by gleaming silver handles. They set them gently on to twin hoists over a large, yawning hole and stepped back. Slowly the caskets were lowered, disappearing from view and the old swing hung motionless in the Gazebo.
The crowd of people milled around aimlessly for several minutes, hugging each other, tossing flowers down into the hole, then finally wandering back into the big house.
The sun shone down on the old Gazebo and time seemed to stand still. The wind sighed softly, then died away. The clouds paused in the heavens above. The world held its breath and waited. Footsteps sounded on the old floorboards, a sound not heard for many years.
“It’s still here,” a soft voice murmured. “It’s still standing.”
“Of course it’s still here,” the second voice said. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“I thought it might have fallen down,” the first voice replied. “It’s been so long.”
“It’s still here,” the second voice repeated. “And now we’re here too. Just like old times.”
“I missed you,” the first voice said as an elderly woman sat gingerly on the ancient swing.
“I missed you too,” the second voice agreed and an elderly man took his seat beside her.
“I looked for you,” the woman told him, turning to look up into his eyes. “I looked everywhere.”
“It’s over now,” the man responded, dropping one arm over her shoulder. “You’ve found me and we’re together again. We’ll be together always.”
“Promise me,” the woman asked, still gazing up into his face, “you’ll never leave me.”
“You have my promise, sister,” the man replied, smiling down on her. “I will always be at your side.”
She returned his smile and sighed happily then rested her head on his shoulder. The old man gently brushed a hair from her forehead, then held her close, his eyes closed, tears trickling down his cheeks.
The world relaxed around them. The sun shone with a gentle warmth, spilling happiness down into the Gazebo. The breeze tickled their noses and brought back memories of days gone by. The air was filled with the sounds of birds, singing in trees too long bereft of their joy.
In the old Gazebo two hearts healed at last. Brother and sister put their arms around one another, then closed their eyes as one and drifted away forever.
Copyright © 2007 by Crystalwizard