The swing glides through purple twilight, slicing air like butter. Its chains are well-oiled, its rubber seat weathered but not worn. The chains are set too high for her feet to brush the mulched ground beneath, and she smiles. The swing moves like a pendulum, unwavering, resolute and in time with her heartbeat.
This is not the only swing set. It is not the closest swing set. It is not even the best swing set, but it is the one she returns to in the evenings when the sun has gone and the moon not yet risen. It is here that she sits, listening to children playing a block over and the slow crunch of tire on gray asphalt down the road.
A dog parks down the block. Children rumble on their Little Tyke tricycles. Motorcycle engines roar on the highway. Eighteen-wheelers scream across the interstate overpass, audible from miles away. A helicopter chops through the night. The noises melt and mingle with each other on the edge of her mind.
She visits because, of all the playgrounds in the city, this quaint section of land is the only one that can cleanse her mind of its troubles. It opens into an older, sprawling neighborhood of modest houses. Tall trees create a distant border that gives the paradoxical illusion of enclosed and open space all at once. A walking path runs behind it, but no one bothers to stop because there are farther, prettier places to visit and not enough hours in a day. Unlike newer developments, the moist air here smells too complex to have come from a garden center.
She can admire this neighborhood and the characters it must hold. Each house is unique, painted and shaped as if an artisan had kneaded it from clay. He must have worked years to form that weeded garden and battered screen door. That shed next door, stacked high with tools and a retrofitted door, could only have from careful study.
It is a neighborhood crafted by time and the razor-like cut of her pendulum swing.