— from Ghosts of the Pineywoods

                    A bright red swing set catches my eye from the road, idle and wasting away under another summer’s sun. Walking through tall grass, I see no beaten path or well-worn trail.

                    “My husband built that,” a voice says from behind me, “With my brother. Used scrap from the drilling company he runned. Went out of business 30 years ago.”

                    I turn to see an elderly woman sitting on the porch, with a friendly wave I mention I work for the newspaper. “Always looking for interesting photos,” I say smiling.

                    She spits and laughs. “Nothing interesting about that. Been falling apart for years. Would have my husband take it down but he passed in ’96. Built it for the boys when they were little, but they don’t come ’round anymore.”

                    Nodding as if I understand (though I certainly don’t) I turn away. My own children are still so young. They love me so much. I can’t imagine them ever leaving me lonesome, sitting on a porch overlooking a broken down swing set.

                    I kneel and level my camera. A dry breeze pushes through the tall grass and I feel the old woman’s gaze.

                    Turning around, I see the porch empty. The house quiet.

Silence, save for the wind in the overhanging piney woods.

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