Short Story by Yudhi Herwibowo (The Jakarta Post, February 12, 2018)

Sway of the Swing ilustration Budhi Button - The Jakarta Post.jpg
Sway of the Swing ilustration Budhi Button/The Jakarta Post

The breeze passing through the leaves sounded like the pitter-patter of rain. The weather slowly became colder. A few seconds later, the atmosphere changed into something subtler and emptier, leaving the sort of silence that felt like eternity.

On the edge of the moonlight that was split by bamboo reeds, two people held hands and hesitantly walked toward the lush forest.

“Is this the right path?” the girl asked as she wiped her sweaty forehead.

The person beside her gave a slight nod, although his movement was unclear. “Indeed, this is,” he replied.

They went deeper into the forest while having to remove the twigs hindering their way. Sometimes, their steps were stopped by things moving around them. They thought there were night beasts lurking around, but actually it was only their fear. Right before reaching their destination, the forest appeared even denser. After trying so hard to clear their pathway, eventually they arrived before a wide overlay of dry land. Tens of swings hung from tree branches; each of them dangling off a large tree that was already dead. Oddly, those swings moved back and forth despite the fact there wasn’t any wind or anyone pushing them.

The girl let go of the man’s hand. She stepped forward and slowly said “Dear Lord! They actually exist…”

***

The swing hangs on a guava tree that has long been dead. The wind keeps blowing against it, swaying the swing.

I decide to remove the swing again this year. It’s been 10 years since we first hung it on the tree, and since then I don’t know how many times I’ve considered taking it off.

As we return home from our pilgrimage this morning, the desire that has always been there and never ceases urges me to walk into the garage and take the sickle.

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