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Heaven's Swings

Heaven's Swings



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Published by Berta Avila
A story from my memoir, sadly true, harsh storyline, harsh language.
A story from my memoir, sadly true, harsh storyline, harsh language.

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Published by: Berta Avila on Jul 22, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Heaven’s Swing’sHear the rhythm of the swings,The echo of freedom rings.In a time of childhood play.Long before knowing how to pray.For this was the prayer in a child’s heart. A child whose spirit was torn apart.For this was prayer in the heart of a child,Who held a death wish by life inspired 
I swear I could almost touch the sky every time I swung higher and higher. The gush of the warm wind upon my face as I swung forward and itsrefreshing whoosh on the back of my sweaty neck as I swung forward, theharmony of it was heaven for me.It was a hot night; the moist air clung to every part of my body likesweetness on a sticky bun. It was one of those rare occasions mother tookme to the local community center to play. The K.C. never knew what theinitials stood for, but for me they symbolized freedom. For that one hour orhowever long it fancied mother’s desire to be there, I was free. I was a childamongst children, in public, the best place ever for me. I was always safe inpublic, mother couldn’t lash out at me, she’d have to tremble with rage andhold it until we got home. The gravel playground was bubbling over with kids, on the swings, the slide,the monkey bars. Boisterous chatting and shrieks of joyful play echoedagainst the tall fuchsia pink walls of K.C. building. I don’t remember everhaving been inside of it, but many a time I would hear children laughing andsinging during our walks to and from the local market.As I merrily swung back and forth basking in my glorious freedom, I glancedover at the statuesque structure of the curvy cement slide. It had a dark littleentrance with a ladder that led up to the top. I slowed my pace on the swing, jumped off. The slide beckoned me so with a flight of adrenalin pumped glee,I ran into the caved entrance of it. For a quick moment I got a familiar whiff of old urine, but it really didn’t matter. The smell of rancid pee was a smallprice to pay for the exhilaration that lay ahead. Quickly, dexterously, Iclimbed anticipating the highlight of my playground escapade. The tallrotundus slide sat in close proximity to a row of monkey bars. I had perfecteda little acrobatic routine where mid-way down the slide I would jump up, leap
towards the monkey bars, grasp them, and make my way down the rung of dirty steel. Then I’d repeat the whole thing over and over again. It made mefeel strong, powerful and free. God knows I needed every bit of that. Living inbondage, feeling powerless and weak left me starved for any escape frommy cruel reality. Around the second time of my “Cirque Du Soleil” act, Ileaped as usual . . . this time though, the bar was a millimeter from my graspand down I came. I landed hard, on my side with my left arm pinned underme. The pain was excruciating, it felt as if my entire arm was being rippedoff at the shoulder. More painful than this was the realization that I fell, that Ididn’t pull it off as smoothly as I had done so many times before. Then, Ipanicked, not only did I fail, acrobatically, but surely this was going to pissmother off. I lifted my head slowly glancing over towards where motherusually stood and gossiped with the locals. No doubt, there she stood glaringat me with piercing rage, how dare I interrupt her socializing time. She tookher time walking over to where I laid in pain. I was grateful for that much, Iwould have gladly lain there indefinitely than to contend with her fury.“You miserable little bitch, what have you done?” she growled in a lowwhisper.By then my pain and fear had overcome me. “I fell”, I mumbled in my tiniestvoice.“Good! Maybe this will teach you to not be such a fucking tomboy.” Sheadded.At that point, my arm was hurting so badly, her words bounced off. The nextfew days were a blur. She kept asking me if it felt better. I would nod quicklyso as to avoid further retaliation from her. The truth of the matter, it washurting more so. I remained in a feverish semi-conscious condition for whatseemed forever. The physical pain would blunt mother’s verbal blows, atother times; her threats of giving me a good beating to teach to not bestupid would momentarily bring me out of the physical pain. It was a hellishexperience. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t pull my undies downto pee. I was exhausted. Finally, one morning maybe 3 or 4 days later, sheyanked the blanket off me and ordered me to get out of bed.“Get up bitch! We’re going to have to take you to a doctor even though Iknow you’re just faking it for attention!” she snarled with a tone of inconvenience in her voice.
“But first, we are going to see your father so he can see what a baby youare,” she further added.Somehow, I stumbled out of bed dizzy and queasy, and got dressed. Shecontinued bitching at me while she brushed my “pelo de india”, Spanish forIndian hair. We then walked up Fifth Street towards my father’s shoe shop.My head felt like woody wood peckers tree and my stomach was cramping. Those five or so blocks seemed to stretch out forever. What kept me goingwas just the anticipation of seeing Papa. Papa was always kind to me. Hewould give me peanuts and a bottled coke, the old fashioned kind, from thesoda machine in his shop. These were the 60’s, no such thing as cans then.Finally, we arrived, Papa looked alarmed.“What’s wrong with mijita (Spanish for my little one.)?Mother would never cuss at me in his presence. I could tell by that subtletremble at her jaw line that she was furious. I swear no one else in the worldcould see, but I could, this was my warning light. She was using all the self control she could muster to refrain from slapping or berating me.“She fell off the monkey bars and now she’s pretending she can’t move herarm. She just wants attention.” She uttered contemptuously.“Why would she be pretending?” Papa said as he walked over and attemptedto give me a coke for me to take with my injured arm.I tried, God I truly did try, but the pain was unbearable. I started sobbinguncontrollably, helplessly relieved that I could finally truly cry. It was safe tocry in Papa’s presence, mother would have never tolerated it. So I wept andwept, looking at my father through blinding tears with imploring desperation.I shook my head signaling I couldn’t take the coke.“My God, woman, her little arm is broken! Can’t you see that?” Papa said asmother glared at both of us.“She’s lying, she just wants your attention, but fine, I’ll take her to thehospital!” mother was indignant.As usual, our visit with Papa was way too short. I would’ve happily stayed inmy father’s shop. I could sleep in the little bed in the backroom where Papasupposedly slept every night. They both would say that he had to sleep atthe shop so no thieves could get in. This had always puzzled me, especiallybecause Papa would drive by our shack every night and wave good-bye. This

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Joe Hagen added this note
That was heart rending but wonderfully written. I'm so happy you came through you childhood, not only intact but sensitive and creative. Very well done! Thanks for writing & then posting it!
David Philips added this note
Great installment here. An 'anticipating the highlight of my playground escapade' is a really good line. Papa's hand was wise to have tested your hand being able to grasp the cola in a bottle; you would have if you could have; only then did he know that the witch ***** was faking the fact of your faking having a broken wing.
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