The sun was dipping in the West, and the sky was that deepening shade of blue highlighted by orange streams of fading sunlight. The playground was a quaint space of brown sands and colourful swings against a blue walled background. It was perfect; almost.
The singular child on one of the swings didn’t have his legs flung out in ecstatic hope of reaching the skies in swinging moments. Neither did his hands clutch the swing chain in a death grip to ensure he did not fall off during the ride. His body was not upright, nor was it stylishly swayed to the side as kids often do to influence the movement of the swing sideways. Not so perfect; that picture. His head was beside his right hand, his eyes closed in a nap. His body sagged against the swing, gently rocking to the July rain-winds. But only for a moment.
A cream coloured shirt tucked in navy pants walked into the picture. It clothed a lanky teenager who leaned carefully towards the sleeping child; perhaps to not wake him with a startle. Tick, Tick, Tick… Lazy movement on the swing as the child lifted his head to look at the voice gently urging him out of sleep. A slow smile upturned his lips, crept up happy cheeks, and lit his eyes even as they held a question: “where have you been“. A straightening cream-coloured back, reassuring eyes, and a returned smile. The child, still in the swing, extended his hand, confident he would be held back; a grin pulling his lips apart to reveal white baby teeth, his eyes dancing with joy, with trust. The lanky teenager held him, laughed, revealing similar set of white teeth. There, just there, was the perfect picture.
A child in a swing, hand outstretched and held by a lanky teenager in a cream shirt and navy pants, the wind billowing their clothes about them, coloured swings around them, brown sands beneath them, orange-stained sky above them, and blue walls with wooden windows behind them….
That’s his favourite whine these days. His lips are pouting, his eyes dancing with some mischief, his teeth still white. His fingers are slim and long, quick to dance in explanation of something or the other. His grin is still quick, his smile still beautiful. His legs are all long and tall, intercepted by the roundness of his belly. Travelling up that journey to seek cheeks marked by dark dots -echoes of past adolescence- is akin to glimpsing the sky. He’s all grown, long bones lengthening his frame; all male, ghosting moustache and slim sideburns drawing his face; all man, plush muscles jumping to primal protection of his. But he’s still that child on the swing, fourteen years ago.
Lil, as you celebrate today, remember you were born to do epic. Strictly, purely, EPIC. Big Sis loves you plenty.