The ground rushed up towards me in a long fast glide before I zoomed up skyward again. The cool night air blew past my face, catching my hair and flinging it all around. On the upswing I could see the deep navy-blue sky peppered with a sea of brilliant sparkling stars. The smell of autumn was in the air, a combination of fallen leaves and someone a distance away burning wood.
A school playground after hours had a completely different vibe than it did in the middle of a day. The daytime aura crammed full of children expelling pent-up energy is a direct opposite to the quiet, peaceful almost haunting quality of night. It is as if the playground equipment comes alive in secret and has to pause its conversation with one another to stare at imposters who show up in the dark.
The sounds of our laughter broke through the quiet. The giggle of Jude on the swing to my left rang out loud and clear mixing with the laughter on my right where Oliver was swinging. I told them a few minutes earlier that swinging was good for their brain development. I made it up. I had been told previously that movement experienced on many forms of playground equipment did in fact impact the brain of a child positively. I just took some license and made a declaration of my own design. This led to Jude discussing a “math swing” where you had to go when you weren’t good at math. I loved it when a made-up fact escalated into something funny. We laughed and laughed, imagining the math swing. “I could probably use some time in the math swing!” I said, and the laughter continued even longer.
We zipped forward and backward beside one another and by turns our movements aligned and then moved in opposition. The cool night air and the laughter cheered us like a balm we did not even know we needed. We made our way through all the playground equipment, but we began and ended on the swings that night. I hopped off to take a quick picture, not sure how it would turn out in such bizarre lighting.
Later, I realized only the poles were visible in the pictures. The boys zipping past in the swings were nothing but a faint blur. It was as if the night swings allowed me to take the photo but refused to allow photographic evidence of our presence. It was a stolen moment, only partially documented. The rest of the story would exist only between the three of us.