Kate has her interest in Swing piqued by Jerry, who is excited to recruit a new friend to help Swing.
The next morning, Jenny and Kate were sitting outside in their backyard, eating donuts and talking about Jenny’s date.
“Oh, Bobby’s okay,” Jenny said. “A little too bookish for me, if you know what I mean. He talked all through our burgers and shakes about what book I wanted to read for our final paper this year. I would much rather have talked about the movie we saw.” She looked at Kate. “How was your evening with Jerry? He seemed like such a cute kid.”
“Yeah, he is. You know he told me about this place near the woods, where that old swing is. You know, the one we used to play on? He made it sound like he and the swing were friends; kept calling it ‘Swing’, like that was its name.”
Jenny sat her drink down and said, “That’s funny. Bobby mentioned taking his kid brother to the woods where they used to play when they were younger. He said something about the swing being old and the rope rotten. He didn’t seem too thrilled about going out there, though. I think he just did it for his brother’s sake.”
Kate looked at her sister, laughing. “Jenny, don’t you remember going there? There were slides and a merry-go-round, as well as the tree swing. We went there a lot. Mom and Dad would go sometimes…”
Kate looked at Jenny, twisting her hair with a finger, and thinking. “Jerry told me they went out there, except he kept saying he just knew they could fix Swing and then he could go there and play every day.” They were both smiling at each other now. “We could help him.” She laughed, “That’s not all he said, but you might get offended by the rest of it.”
“What in the world did he say that would offend me?” Jenny asked.
“He said he thought the reason Bobby wasn’t interested in fixing Swing was because of his date with you, and that you were just some dumb girl.”
“We’ll just see about that,” Jenny said. They both laughed and went inside.
Pouring a bottle of coke into two glasses, Jenny said, “Bobby asked if I would go somewhere with him next Saturday, but I wasn’t too sure I wanted to spend a whole day with him. But I have an idea. Let’s walk down there this afternoon and check out this Swing. I bet Pa has some stuff lying around the barn.” She looked at Kate, and smiled, “I’ll tell Bobby we have a date. I just won’t tell him what we’re doing. Then, we’ll grab Jerry and go work on ole Swing!”
“Sounds like fun,” Kate said. “I’m sure we would make at least one brother happy. We could make a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon out there if it doesn’t rain.”
“It’s a date then,” Jenny said, laughing out loud.
Saturday morning was Jerry’s time with Dad.
“Dad, do you think we might take a walk out to the Wood and look at Swing today? I’m sure we can fix him with just a little rope and maybe give him a fresh coat of paint.”
“Well, son, I do have a couple things to do today, but maybe after lunch, we can go take a look.” He put his arm around Jerry’s shoulders. “But Bobby said it was totally worthless.”
“Yea, I know,” Jerry said, adding with a smirk, “But I really think he just wanted to get out of there so he could get all slicked up for his date with that Jenny girl.”
Dad laughed, “You could be right. You know your brother is older now and not interested in playing in the Wood anymore.”
“Well, I talked about it with Kate last night and she thought it might be fun. If we can fix Swing, maybe I’ll see if she wants a date with me and we can go visit him together.”
His dad chuckled, and said, “Well, I guess that might be a possibility, but just remember, she’s almost your brother’s age and might not actually want to play on the swing, either.”
“Anyway, Dad, hurry and get done. I’m really anxious and I want to get there before it’s too dark, like yesterday.”
“Okay son, we’ll go right after lunch.” Dad smiled at him, taking a rake from its hook. “Should we take mom with us?”
“I guess, if you don’t think she’ll spoil things.”
Jenny hung up the phone, smiling. Reluctantly, Bobby had agreed to take her to the Wood. Jenny was pretty sure he had no interest in the Swing. That was okay. He was interested in her, and that was enough to hook him into helping them.
Jenny found Kate in the barn gathering some things she thought they might need to help Jerry check Swing’s condition. She had also packed a sack lunch for all three of them.
“Okay, Jen, I think we have everything from the shed, do you have the lunch stuff? What about a blanket in case we have to sit on the ground?”
“Yeah, everything’s right here. Pa even made sure we had a tape measure to check how big Swing’s base is. I think we’re ready.”
About that time Bobby ambled into the shed. Jenny smiled at him, handing him all the supplies they had gathered.
Just before lunch, Jerry went to get his bike, thinking it would be fun to ride ahead and let his parents walk behind. They walked so slow, always holding hands and talking.
He heard his mom call him, “Jerry, what do you think about us taking a picnic lunch and going out to the Wood. That way we can leave sooner and have more time?”
“Wow, Mom! Do you really want to go? That would be cool. Can you pack some of those brownies? They were awesome!”
She smiled. No matter how young, the way to a guy’s heart is still through his stomach. “Sure, honey.”
Swing didn’t think his loneliness could get any worse, but after the brief time with the two brothers, the past week had been excruciating. He just hung low, dejected, feeling like a rotten piece of wood just barely hanging on its rope. No matter how hard he listened, there was no sound. No voices, no running feet. The air was still, the only sound, the buzzing of bees and dragonflies. During the blackness of the nights, he began to doubt that he had really felt Jerry’s hands warm on his old boards, or heard his young voice speaking to him so lovingly.
It was Saturday again, a day that should bring so much joy. In days gone by, weekends had been the happiest days of the week. So much activity, so much love, so much fun and excitement. But this Saturday was just another lonely day, one of many. In his sad reverie, he missed the approaching voices. Suddenly, he jerked awake. Bobby and two teenage girls stood beside him. He caught his breath and blinked his eyes. They looked vaguely familiar. He couldn’t believe it! One of the girls began spreading a blanket on the grass, while the other began examining the rope, looking up into the tree, pulling on it, testing its strength.
As Jerry and his parents came into the Wood, Jerry said, “Look, Dad, I think someone is there.” He started running. “Man, I hope they aren’t tearing him down, THAT would be terrible!”
Jenny, Kate, and Bobby had arrived a few minutes before Jerry and his parents. Jenny said, “Look, someone is coming our way. They look like they plan to stay, at least through lunch. What should we do?”
“Just get our lunch out. The last time I checked, it’s a free country and we can eat here if we want to. Then we can find out what they plan to do.”
Bobby squinted in the sunlight. “That’s my Mom and Dad, and Jerry!”
A breeze blew into the Wood, and Swing began dancing, swaying.
“Hey, Kate, what are you guys doing here?” Jerry asked. He was looking skeptically at Jenny and Bobby.
“Probably the same thing you guys are. Checking out Swing.”
“You mean you’re going to help? Does that mean you’ll swing with us this summer?”
She put her hands around Jenny’s shoulders, “Sure, we love outdoor adventures.”
And Swing could be part of those adventures, he thought. They came for him! They came back to restore, to make all things new again. Maybe even Merry-go-round and See-saw, too. The possibilities were endless. Maybe, Swing thought, there would be a Park again!
There was a lot of measuring and putting heads together, but by the end of the afternoon, everyone thought Swing could indeed be repaired. It would take a new, shorter rope, but by the next weekend, it would be as good as new.
As for Swing, he had enjoyed all the company and was feeling very fancy and special again.
Restoral projects, building playgrounds. What have you been involved in that has brought life back into an empty place?