It goes without saying that swings are for swinging. You move forward and back, through rises and falls, and all the while you know exactly where you're going; but you have no control. You can plant your feet in the ground and stop, and you can sit there, mud gripping the tips of your sneakers, until you realize that it's pointless, that a swing will give you no reward for standing still. The only thing to do is move, gain momentum, and, when the time is right, let go and leap. The only thing to do on a swing is swing.
Martin hated swings. He got no sort of reward from them. He sat on the seat, part of the pitiful set outside Anna's school, feet firmly planted in the ground, and watched Anna as she swung back and forth, a pendulum that was too slow and too fast for his taste. He watched her downward gaze and furrowed brow and waited for her to reveal what was on her mind.
"Marty, am I a bad person?" she asked suddenly. She kept her eyes on him as she swung.
"Why are you asking?"
"Well... some of the others are mean to me, and I thought... I thought maybe I was a bad person, and that's why they do it, and is that true, because I don't mean to-"
Martin smirked a bit. "Who knows? Maybe you are a bad person."
Anna opened her eyes wide, looking terrified. Martin was having trouble keeping a straight face.
"Buuuuut," he continued, "so am I, and we bad people look out for each other, so don't worry."
She didn't look convinced, so he got up, walked over to her, waited for her to stop swinging, and placed his index finger right between her eyes. He gently moved it down to the tip of her nose, then back again. He had done that for her since she was little, to soothe her.
"To them, you might be a bad person," Martin said, "but that's just so you know they're not the ones you should care about."
She summoned a tiny smile.
"These mean kids lay a finger on you, you tell me right away. I'll always protect you when you can't protect yourself."
Just then, Martin felt a drop of water kiss the side of his head. Another landed right on Anna's nose, making her blink and look up. He straightened up.
"C'mon. Let's head to the car."
As they made their way back to the back entrance of the school, Martin noticed a figure standing in the doorway, looking in their direction. He tensed as they got within fifteen feet of the guy; he appeared to be in his fifties, with greasy black hair that whispered of dye, and a regrettable shave covered the lower half of his face. Martin winced as he drew nearer. The guy smelled like a chemical fire: artificial and overwhelming. Most importantly, though, Martin didn't recognize him.
He extended an arm before Anna to halt her, but she just pushed past him.
She smiled at the man and gave a little wave. "Bye, Mister!"
The man said nothing, but he returned Anna's smile and stepped aside so she could pass. Martin relaxed; he was just one of her teachers. He nodded in greeting and walked past him as well, into the school hallway.
Out of the corner of his eye, Martin thought he saw something...unnatural in the glint of the teacher's eyes, but he just stood there, smiling. Martin hastened his stride to catch up with Anna. A voice from behind slithered into his ears.
"See ya soon, Anna."
Written by JustAnotherScarecrow