The Playground Chronicles.

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The Playground Chronicles.

Post by Unit7 on Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:41 pm

Every place has a story to share and Black Creek Elementary School is no different. Ever since it's opening in the fall of 1928 the school has seen thousands of children and teachers pass through the hallways and played on the playground. These are just a few of the stories.

The Playground: A Walk Down Memory Lane.

The playground at the elementary school was deserted, the last bell of the day had released the children hours before. The jungle gym sat patiently waiting for the new day to begin and children to continue to climb. The netting on the frayed basketball hoops were swaying ever so slightly from the warm breeze while a swing creaked as if replying to the hundreds of crickets hidden, but not silent.

“It’s been forever,” Jenna said taking in the sight of the dark school yard. “I don’t think I have been here since…”

“Jim Miller’s end of the year party,” Sarah said smiling.

She is always smiling, Jenna thought, as if the whole world was her private joke.

“How did the party end up here?” Jenna asked. She only remembered bits and pieces of the party. It had been the first big party she went too and indulged a little too much. What she wouldn’t give to be able to redo freshman year or any year really.

“Not a clue. I do remember Mr. Swartz calling the cops on us.” Sarah laughed as she stepped onto the rubber surface of the playground. “Hey when did they replace the wood chips?” She jumped up and down as if to test the padding.

“A few years ago I think. About time too, I remember I got the worst splinter from those damned things.” Jenna laughed, not sure why. Sarah gave her a look of triumph.

“I told you that one day you’d laugh at that.” Sarah looked over her shoulder smiling as she began to climb up onto the jungle gym.

She was right though, Jenna thought. She had thought the splinter was the end of the world. Cry Baby Jenna, a harsh but an appropriate nickname she thought she would never live down. Jenna started to climb the metal bars after her friend. Back when she was eight, the whole thing seemed like Mt Everest, an impossible climb only a few would tackle. But now as a senior about to graduate high school, the jungle gym was small, tiny even.

Jenna could remember her days spent running up and down the school’s playground as the five giant pine trees towered over and guarded the children atop of the grassy hill as they watched the kids play soccer and a bit of flag football. The stories those trees could tell, some of them probably about her.

Sarah was at the top of the jungle gym standing in front of the big red slide that twisted. Except for the hill, it was the tallest point on the playground and Jenna loved standing there watching the rest of the kids playing. Of course Big John always seemed to have been behind her, and when the kids waiting for a turn called her names for waiting just a little too long, he would turn around and the kids would scatter. He had a scary reputation even then, but Jenna had always known the truth. He likened himself as the playgrounds Dark knight, always quick to defend the underdog and she always felt safe around the boy right up until they expelled him in their junior year, and even then when they crossed paths she would give him a knowing smile and a thank you.

She gave Jenna a thoughtful look before going down the slide. Jenna chased after her and for a moment she looked over the silent playground and wondered what new games the kids were playing these days. Like so many things she enjoyed as a child, the slide was no longer as long or as fun as it once was, but as she slid down she could not help but smile.

At the bottom of the slide Sarah was eying the swing set no to far away. They had spent a good part of third grade on those swings, thinking they were little badasses as they flew from the swings. That is until Jenna sprained her ankle.

They casually walked over towards the swings. They were at the back of the playground up against the grassy hill. From the swing set you had a great view of the entire playground, but Jenna had always preferred the slide.

Jenna wrapped her fingers around the large chains that held the plastic seat. They were cold in the night air but they were comfortable and familiar all the same. She began to pump her legs and Sarah called out jump as they reached the height limit. Sarah flew off her swing and landed in the gravel, landing it.

But Sarah hesitated until it was too late and she was falling back to the earth and then swung upwards. In all her life she had not feared the jump and once she broke the school record or at least the one Sally and Sue, twins, claimed was the record. Jenna dragged her feet against the wood chips to slow her speed.

“Why didn’t you jump?” Sarah asked. Jenna could only shrug as the swing came to a halt.

“Too risky,” Jenna said after awhile, telling only half the truth, “what if I broke my leg or…” Jenna had been given a tennis scholarship to their dream school. Sarah nodded but Jenna could tell that she did not believe the lie.

“Do you remember the first time you met Jason?” Sarah pointed towards the basketball hoops on the opposite side of the playground then the jungle gym. She sat back down on her swing and together they sat there swaying ever so slightly.

“How could I forget?” Jenna smiled. “He stole my cookie.” Jenna had snuck a chocolate chip cookie from the cookie jar and brought it to school as a snack. When she went to eat the cookie it was gone and when she asked Sarah, who sat next to her, she pointed to Jason. During recess Jenna ran up to him, grabbed the small juice box from his hand, and ran. During middle school they had become close friends until freshman year when they began to date.

“You know he still denies taking my cookie,” Jenna said and then looked at her best friend who was trying desperately to hide a smile. Jenna bumped into Sarah. “Out with it.”

“I am so, so sorry,” Sarah said trying to sound sincere, “but Jason never stole your cookie.”
“Sarah!” Jenna shouted as she bumped into her friend harder.

“You know if it wasn’t for me you might not be dating him and he definitely wouldn’t have stolen your cherry,” Sarah teased and then poked out her tongue.

Jenna blushed and looked down at her feet and slowly her eyes wandered up her legs, into her lap, and finally resting on her stomach. She released her grip on the swings chains and wrapped her arms around her body.

“Sarah…” Jenna whispered and for a moment she was unsure if she had spoken at all.

“What is it?” Sarah asked her eyes growing wide. “You can tell me.”

‘I was late…” Jenna said and Sarah gave her a raised eyebrow until she glanced down at Jenna’s arms. “I took the test and I am pregnant.” The words spilled out of Jenna’s mouth on their own and she wanted to take them back. She wanted to be a senior who would be going off the college in a short few months like everyone else, a kid running down the playground one last time.

“Those things are not always accurate you know. You remember my cousin’s pregnancy scare right?’ Sarah’s voice was frantic.

Jenna shook her head. In her heart she knew she was pregnant. “Will you come to the doctor’s with me?”

“Of course I will.” Sarah reached out and held Jenna’s hand. “Does Jason know?” Jenna shook her head. She could barely tell Sarah, how on earth could she tell Jason? “It is Jason’s right? You and Derek never… you know when you and Jason were broken up?” Jenna shot her friend a glare and she mimed locking her lips and throwing away the key.

“What are you going to do?” Sarah asked after a long silence. Jenna shrugged and rested her head on Sarah’s shoulder.

Jenna watched the children at play in her mind. She saw Big John protecting a first grader from the fifth graders. She saw Sally and Sue, telling ghost stories about the school. Jason was chasing after an eleven year old Jenna as Sarah smiled while secretly eating a cookie.

Someday her child would be playing on this playground giving the pine trees a new story to tell. The idea of her little girl or boy running up and down the playground gave her some comfort.


Sometimes, late at night, I sit here and I wonder. The things I wonder vary from night to night. Sometimes I wonder about the stars and other nights I wonder about what tomorrow will be like. But recently I have been wondering what my life would have been like without you...-Samantha Greene
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