A Short Story By T. S. Dickson
Larry crawled upside down, his legs and arms holding him to the crossbars of the jungle gym above as he made his way towards the train engine. It was a clever design; the wrapping bars and wooden frame gave children many angles to climb on while creating the overall shape of a train. The engine was mostly wood, with a plastic cowcatcher on the front and a round metal smoke stack the smaller children could climb. Metal frames and crossbars formed two cars behind the engine and finally, a caboose finished the design, complete with two slides and four colorful wheels that children could spin... Larry made “Whoo Whoo” and chugging noises as he climbed, finally reaching the engine, and swinging his legs down to the small bench in the engine’s open cabin. He turned, sat, and grabbed the two levers in front of him, and with another “Whoo-Hoo!” he pulled both levers towards him and began bouncing on the seat like the train was in motion.
Larry’s father watched from a few yards away, leaning against the tree that was probably old before Larry was born. He smiled and waited. This was his son’s time. Of all the equipment in the playground, the train meant the most to Larry, and that had meant a lot to him, especially in the early days. Other playgrounds had slides and swings and merry-go-rounds, but the climbing train was unique to the Merrifield Day and After-School Care Center, and that uniqueness had been important during and after the divorce.