A Tire Swing Story is a bite-sized "imagining" inspired by an object I discover while wandering. It could be a curbside trash gem or a message sprayed on a wall. A lost mitten, or an antique store find. Anything goes. I photograph the object and post them together, the story and its inspiration. There will be a new story every Monday and Wednesday. On Fridays, I'll discuss writing, life, love, and coffee. (In no particular order and maybe all at once.)

Monday, February 28, 2011

I am leaning on the shovel as I make my way across the field. The wind is blowing my white hair in tufts around my face. I feel like at any moment, I could be carried off. All ninety pounds of me. Whoosh. Goodbye, Margaret.

I'm too old for this, but I don't give a damn. Lucille's been gone six years and I've finally gotten the nerve to dig up our can. I'm not bloody stopping now. 

We marked the spot with a rock that now takes all of my strength to move. But I get it aside, raise the shovel, and begin to dig. 

Lucy and I buried our time capsule in June of 1938. We were fifteen years old, and invincible. Afterward, we lay in the tall grass and the ground beneath us seemed to hum. I was sure everything to come would feel that way: alive and buzzing.

I strike metal with the tip of my shovel, reach down, and pull out the can. In the pocket of my cardigan sweater is a screwdriver, and I use it to pry off the lid. 

The dank smell that greets me is rot mixed with rust. I begin to pull out the contents of the can. A yellowed newspaper clipping of a church musical we were in. A faded postcard from Paris, France. Hunks of our hair, hers brown and mine blond, braided together. 

And then I find it: a folded piece of paper not so yellow as the rest. My hands shake as I open the letter. It's dated September 30th 1968, thirty years after we'd first buried the can. 

"Lucy, there is something you need to know, but I can't bring myself to tell you. Carson and I are in love. We've been seeing each other secretly. I just pray that I'll die first, and one day you'll dig this up and find a way to forgive me." 

But of course, Lucy went first. And she never got to read my letter. 

My back is on fire, and the arthritis in my hands is making them throb. I'm not invincible, it turns out. I'm just an old woman, out here with ghosts, chilled by the wind.

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