Amelia's Swing

So, I wrote a new story. It was supposed to be for a competition but then I found out that I'm not 'old enough' to enter the contest. 

My mum was pretty disappointed, though. 

Me? I'm fine with it. I guess I hadn't read the instructions properly. :p

However, I'm glad that I wrote this story. I've always wanted to write a saaaad story. 

I hope you like it! :) 



Amelia’s Swing
Morning, 25th April, 1991
It was a nice spring day. The small village of Willborough was sunny for once. There was a pleasant breeze wafting in the air. The flowers in the Ferguson s’ yard were blooming to the fullest. Mr. James Ferguson was seated in an old rocking chair, out in the porch, immersed in reading his novel, when –
“Daddy, I want a swing.”   
Mr. Ferguson kept his book on his lap and looked at his five-year-old daughter.
Amelia Ferguson strongly resembled her mother – she had the same fair hair, baby blue eyes and her smile was utterly unique. Her hair was – as always – braided messily by Mr. Ferguson and her frock was filled with paint stains.
“Why do you want that, Amelia?” Mr. Ferguson asked.
“Because Melanie has a swing in her garden,” Amelia said solemnly – well, as solemn as you could get if you were a five-year-old. “She keeps talking about how pretty it is and how her Daddy made her the swing! She tells the entire class –” Amelia spread out her arms wide to show the size of her class – “she tells them that her daddy is the best! I don’t think so! My daddy is much better than her daddy!”
Now, most parents would simply laugh, pat their kids’ head and tell them to scram. However, Mr. Ferguson was very different from others.
“Your wish is granted, your Highness.” Mr. Ferguson did a mock bow and Amelia giggled.
“I love you, Daddy!” Amelia threw her arms around her father.
***
Night-time, 25th April, 1991
“And so they lived, happily ever after.”
Mr. Ferguson closed the book and smiled. His daughter’s eyes were closed and she was breathing slowly.
“Goodnight, sweetheart.” Mr. Ferguson muttered. “Sweet dreams.”
“I want my swing, Daddy.” Amelia murmured in her sleep.
“Your wish is granted, your Highness.” Mr. Ferguson said, kissing her forehead.
He got up from the bed and switched off the lamp. He kept the book on the night-stand and exited the room. After he opened the door, he saw Mrs. Ferguson standing at the threshold, her arms crossed across her chest.
She was wearing her dressing gown over her nightdress. Her hair was tied into a messy bun and her lips were pursed.
“You know, James,” Mrs. Ferguson said curtly. “You’re going to spoil that kid rotten. Are you sure you want to make that swing?”
“Of course I want to, Laura!” Mr. Ferguson assured her. “She’ll play with it, she’ll enjoy it tremendously!”
“She’s a child, James.” Mrs. Ferguson said gently. “She just wants to show it off to her friends. Her priorities change like the weather does. You are not supposed to do everything she says!”
“Trust me, Laura.” Mr. Ferguson wrapped his arms around his wife. “Amelia will LOVE it! She will have memories attached to that swing. I can see how she will tell her grandchildren, My father made a swing for me. It was the best present that I’d ever got! What if she gets a brother or a sister in a couple of years? She’ll teach her little sibling how to play with the swing –”
“You’re getting too carried away with this!” Mrs. Ferguson started laughing. “Come on, let’s go to sleep! You, mister, are going to be busy tomorrow – your daughter will make sure that you’ll build that swing!”
***
Morning, 2nd May, 1991
“Open your eyes, sweetie!”
Amelia let out a squeal of delight to see the swing. It was beautiful, undoubtedly. Its chains were sturdy and the seat was painted a bright red. The swing was everything that Amelia wanted it to be.
Now that horrible Melanie wouldn’t tease her, would she? Amelia, too, had a swing now! Oh, how she would love to invite her friends over to see this! She imagined that the five of them would take turns and use the swing. Maybe, if Daddy were free, he could teach her some tricks.
“Oh Daddy, thank you!” Amelia cried out. She was jumping up and down in delight, her braids jumping along with her. “I love it! I love it! I love it! I SIMPLY LOVE IT!”
“Don’t shriek too much!” Mrs. Ferguson smiled. “You look like you’re about to wet yourself!”
“Mummy!” Mr. Ferguson cried out, in mock scandalized tones. “How can you say that? Amelia is a grown up girl!”
“Daddy, it’s beautiful!” Amelia shrieked. Gingerly, she sat on the red seat. Her little fingers gently clasped the chains and she looked expectantly at her parents.
“I’ll go take the camera.” Mrs. Ferguson said.
She went inside the house, leaving Mr. Ferguson and Amelia alone.
“So-o-o-o,” Mr. Ferguson said slowly. “Do you like it?”
After working tremendously hard in his office, Mr. Ferguson had laboured a lot to make that swing. He had spent nights awake to prepare the perfect swing for his daughter. During the few hours he got sleep, Mr. Ferguson worried about how Amelia’s reaction would be, to see that swing.
To his relief, Amelia squealed, “I simply love it, daddy!”
Not trying to waste a moment, she started swinging. At first, she was moving slowly. Then, she picked up speed and she started swinging faster. Then, she slowly stood up on the swing and was swinging faster and higher than ever.
“I think I’m flying, Daddy!” Amelia said, as she swung higher and higher. Her skirt was fluttering gently. She was laughing that tinkling laugh of hers, her face was a bright red, and strands of hair had come out from her tightly tied braids.
“Be careful, sweetheart!” Mr. Ferguson warned. “Or else you’ll –”
He didn’t need to finish the sentence. Amelia lost her balance and fell. For a moment, it felt like she was flying – her arms and legs were spread wide. The very next second, she hit the ground.
Mr. Ferguson muttered an expletive and rushed towards his fallen daughter. Gently, he straightened her up and brushed the dirt off her.
“It – it hurts!” Amelia burst into tears. Mr. Ferguson lifted her and carried her inside. He could hear his wife searching (rather wildly) for the camera. They went inside the kitchen and Mr. Ferguson placed his hurt daughter on the countertop.
He rummaged for a first aid kit in the drawers. After finding a box with a large red plus sign, he picked it up and shut the drawer. He placed the box next to Amelia. Crouching a bit, he decided to examine her cuts.
Her knees and elbows were scraped. Blood was oozing from the cuts. There were tears streaming down from her eyes and Mr. Ferguson was shocked to see that there was a cut on her forehead too.
After washing off her cuts, he opened the first aid box and dabbed some antiseptic medicine to a piece of cotton. He gently pressed the cotton onto Amelia’s cut and she gasped loudly. 
“M-make it stop, Daddy!” Amelia wailed. “It’s too painful!”
“Shhh, everything’s going to be all right…” Mr. Ferguson said smoothly. “You’re okay now. If you think too much about the pain, you’ll be sadder. Don’t think about it at all.”
“B-but it’s b-blood!” Amelia sobbed. “I’m s-sc-scared of bl-blood!”
“You think of blood as squished strawberries.” Mr. Ferguson said.
Amelia giggled a bit. At the same time, Mr. Ferguson tactfully put BandAid on her knee.
“Or squished tomatoes, for that matter,” Mr. Ferguson went on as he continued to heal her. “You don’t think of blood as blood. That way, you’ll get scared and wet your panties – you don’t want to make your mummy feel cross, do you!”
“No,” Amelia said, shaking her head in amusement. “I don’t!”
“Very good!” Mr. Ferguson said, as he worked on the rest of her injuries. “When you feel pain – if you feel like crying, you cry! No one in this world is stopping you! Crying is just letting out the pain that you feel. If you cry, then you remove the pain. After you’re finished crying, your nose is red like a clown’s and there’s dirty snot coming from your nostrils –”
“Eww, that won’t be too nice!” Amelia laughed again.
“But there’s one thing you’ll be free of,” Mr. Ferguson continued, flashing his trademark grin. “All the pain is gone! It’s vanished! Poof!”
Poof!” Amelia repeated, now smiling whole-heartedly.
“Are you feeling okay now?” Mr. Ferguson said, cocking his eyebrows. “Or do you want to have some ice cream?”
“I’m fine…” Amelia said softly. A sly little grin appeared on her face and she added, “But I wouldn’t mind some ice cream!”
***
Evening, December 24th, 1999
Isn’t it funny how a happy little world transforms into a sad one so quickly?
The little swing had seen a lot of things happening in the Ferguson household – the arrival of a new pet, the way how Amelia Ferguson grew rapidly into a precocious thirteen-year-old, various happy family get-togethers and right now, death.
Mrs. Laura Ferguson had died a few days ago, due to cancer.
Of course, the Fergusons knew that Mrs. Ferguson only had a few months to live. That didn’t stop them from making the most of the time. Mrs. Ferguson’s last few months were her happiest – her husband and her daughter were by her side every day, they were doing something different as each day passed, trying to make every moment count.
However, the last few weeks were torturous. Mrs. Ferguson’s health deteriorated drastically – she was bedridden, her lovely blonde hair was falling, her weight reduced – but the fiery light in her eyes was still there.
She died five days ago.
The funeral had passed in a blur. Relatives from various parts of the country came and offered their condolences. The village mourned for Laura Ferguson, a lively woman who was renowned for her beauty and sarcastic sense of humour.
Presently, Laura’s daughter, Amelia Ferguson was seated on the swing, too shocked to cry.
Amelia loved her mother dearly and the very thought of losing her was horrendous.
Now though…
It felt like her heart had been wrenched away from her body and somebody had kicked it hard like a football. It felt like a part of her had been stolen away. It felt like some cruel force had sucked her mother into a black hole and there was no way that she would come back.
In fact, it seemed unbelievable, ethereal – words couldn’t exactly describe the grief within her.
She stared at the grey sky above, her eyes glistening with tears. It was snowing. Soft snowflakes descended from the sky and softly touched Amelia’s cold skin, as if trying to console her.  
Don’t cry, Amelia… She thought to herself. Don’t you dare to cry! Mom always said that you must never cry! You’re a strong, strong girl and you WILL NOT cry!
“There you are, Amelia!”
It was her father. His hair had greyed. He was wearing an old sweater which her mother had knitted. The tips of his ears were red – something which happened only when he was upset.
“Hey Daddy,” Amelia muttered, waving at him.
Her father trudged towards her, his boots and clothes covered with snow. He was carrying a scarf – her mother’s scarf – in his hands.
“Why didn’t you wear a sweater, Amelia?” Mr. Ferguson grunted. He tucked the scarf around her skinny shoulder and sighed. “There! That’s better!”
“Thank you,” Amelia said.
They were quiet for a while – watching the snowflakes descend onto the ground and the sound of their breaths being the only sound heard in the vicinity.
“I can imagine your mother telling us to get back to business right now.” Mr. Ferguson chuckled weakly.
Why are you two dawdling? Don’t you have some work – don’t you have some work to do!?” Amelia cleared her throat. She couldn’t repeat the words that her mother would speak.
“That’s precisely what she would’ve said.” Mr. Ferguson said, messing Amelia’s hair. It was no longer in pigtails – her hair was cut short. It was Amelia’s conscious decision – she wanted to cut it short so that her mother wouldn’t feel left out.
“We do need to work hard, though.” Mr. Ferguson said gravely. “We barely have anything left.”
Unfortunately, it was true. Mrs. Ferguson’s treatment had taken a toll on the Fergusons’ money. There were so many bills to be paid, so much to recover – Amelia was scared about what would happen in the coming few months.
What irked her more was that those treatments were futile. Her mother had died anyway. Those doctors hadn’t done anything remotely remarkable, had they? They had probably worsened her mother’s condition.
“Daddy,” Amelia said. “I c-can’t believe it!”
“Neither can I, Amelia,” Mr. Ferguson sighed. “Neither can I!”
“It’s l-like a bad dream, isn’t it?” Amelia said, getting up from the swing. “It’s like a horrible nightmare – you can’t get up and escape the pain –”
“You have tears in your eyes.” Her father said suddenly. “Do you remember what I told you about crying?”
It was six years ago, but strangely, Amelia remembered bits of it.
“When you feel pain, you are allowed to cry.” Amelia said. “No one’s trying to stop you.”
“Crying is just letting out the pain that you feel.” Her father continued. “If you cry, you remove the pain. After you’re done – the pain has been released. You feel better – a thousand times better.”
“Crying is for those who are weak.” Amelia protested. “I’m not weak! I’m a strong girl!”
“Who said that that crying is for weaklings?” Mr. Ferguson demanded. “There are times when the bravest of the lot have to let out their pain. Your mother is – was probably the bravest person I ever knew – and she cried too – she cried about losing us, she cried about leaving this world!”
Immediately after he said that, Amelia’s eyes started streaming with tears. But now, she didn’t try to stop them. They flowed out without restrain. Amelia threw her arms around her father and started sobbing bitterly. Her father encircled his arms around her and tears had started streaming from his eyes too.
They stood like that for what seemed like hours.
And the swing stood there as a witness.
***
Dusk, July 30th, 2004
Nothing had changed in Willborough. The village was as green as ever and the sky still possessed the dull grey colour. There were voices of children shrieking in glee as they played football in the streets. Farmers and shopkeepers were immersed in their business. Almost everyone seemed to be doing something.
Almost.
A slim eighteen-year-old girl was sitting on an old swing, biting her lower lip anxiously. The swing’s seat was once a bright red. However, age had taken a toll on it and now it had a dull grey colour.
The girl was pretty in an unconventional sense. She had rosebud lips, an upturned nose and short blonde hair. Her face was splattered with freckles. However, her most noticeable features were her intelligent blue eyes.
Yes, Amelia Ferguson had grown up.
What was it that bothered her?
She had just passed out of school. Now, she had to decide what to do with her life.
Making a decision is a tough job. Making a decision about life is a tougher one.
Making decisions meant thinking carefully, thinking logically. You have to think from multiple perspectives. You have to weigh the pros and cons. You have to think about the consequences of your future actions. You have to think about what’s best for you and what your heart tells you to do.
Amelia hated making decisions.
After her mother’s death, life had taken a murkier turn. Life wasn’t so simple anymore. Her father had to work hard to keep his shop running and to pay off all the loans they had taken. When her peers were busy partying, Amelia was busy helping her father with the shop. She worked hard at school, trying to get good enough grades so that she could get into a good college and do something which would make her successful in life.
Of course, everything was easier said than done. 
Right now, Amelia was confused.
A part of her wanted to go ahead with her initial plan – to do something which would be very good for her financially. Another part of her had fallen ridiculously in love with art.
Even though everyone (excepting her father) called her a monotonous robot, Amelia loved colours. She loved the smell of paint, touching the soft hair of the brush, the canvas which was eagerly telling her, Create something new! Paint me! Make me colourful!
But if she went to an art school, it would cost her a lot, unless she tried for a scholarship.
Maybe I can take a gap year or something, Amelia thought. I can think about various career options and then join college.
However, no matter how much she tried to delay it, Amelia would have to take a final decision.
“Need some hot chocolate?”
Her father’s deep voice broke Amelia away from her reverie.
She saw her father coming from the house, carrying two mugs in his hands. Despite having so many troubles, Mr. Ferguson still continued to smile as if everything was all right.
“Hey Dad,” Amelia smiled at her father. She smiled rarely these days. Her smile arrived only when her father was around.
“It’s surprisingly cool right now.” Mr. Ferguson said, handing Amelia her mug. “Good lord, I couldn’t bear with the heat! It was as if we were in the Sahara Desert!”
“You’ve never been to the Sahara Desert, Dad!” Amelia laughed.
“And I do not intend to.” Mr. Ferguson said.
Amelia sipped some of the hot chocolate in the mug. Mmm… it was as delicious as always. Chocolate always managed to improve her mood.
“What’re you thinking about?” Her father questioned.
“About life,” Amelia said, her smile disappearing. She was quiet for a moment and then, she added, “I’m confused about what I have to do, Dad.”
Her father stood there, sipping from his mug occasionally.
Then, he said, “I may not be the best person to give you advice. Me? I’m just a mechanic who owns a shop in a village. I’ve not studied much. I’ve just focussed on running my business because I love doing what I’m doing right now.
 “I don’t care if you become a bigshot in life or no.” Her father said, looking at her with a strange look haunting his eyes. “What matters to me the most is that you ought to be a good person and do your job best! I don’t want to see my daughter unhappy in a dull desk job. I want to see her be happy being an artist!”
“You – you saw my sketches?” Amelia asked hesitatingly.
“I loved it all.” Her father said, flashing his warm, comforting smile.
“Oh Daddy,” Amelia sighed. “But I don’t – I don’t want to spend more of your money… those art schools cost a lot!”
“I know they do.” Her father said. “But I’ve seen you work hard. You try to get in through a scholarship first. Try to get in by merit, not by money. If you don’t get into the best out of the lot – who am I kidding? You definitely will! – don’t worry. You try to use your talent. I’ll take care of all the additional costs.”
“Oh Daddy,” Amelia cried out. “You don’t have to do this!”
“It’s my job, sweetheart.” Her father said solemnly. “More than anything else in this world, I want to see you happy.”
***
Late Evening, 2nd November, 2019
“Mommy, help me!”
Amelia looked up from the book she was reading. Her daughter had fallen from the swing.
She got up from the old rocking chair and rushed towards her daughter.
“Oh dear, are you all right?” Amelia asked frantically, picking her daughter up from the ground.
“I-it hurts, Mommy!” Little Jamie wailed. “I see b-blood! I’m scared of it!”
Yes, there was a cut on her knee and blood seeped from it slowly.
“It’s okay.” Amelia soothed, as she pressed her handkerchief against Jamie’s knee. “Everything’s okay. Don’t think of blood as blood. Think of it as squished strawberries.”
“That’s not nice!” Jamie wrinkled her nose.
“How would squished tomatoes do?” Amelia asked, a smile forming on her lips.
“It hurts a LOT!” Jamie cried.
“Then you cry.” Amelia said gently. “If you feel like you’re in pain, then you can cry. Crying steals the pain away. After you’re done crying, then you’ll feel much better.
“Do you feel like you’re crying now?” Amelia asked, quirking her eyebrow.
“I stopped feeling the pain the minute you mentioned squished tomatoes!” Jamie said. “Can I go play again, mommy?”
“Okay.” Amelia ruffled her daughter’s hair. Jamie ran towards the swing and started swinging the minute her read touched the old seat. Amelia looked up at the sky. She could see two stars twinkling in the inky-black sky.
“I love you, Mum and Dad.” Amelia murmured. “And I miss you two a lot.”



So I hope you guys liked it! 

Happy 2014, everyone! Take care! :) 

xoxo,

Archie 
(The Badass Learner) 

Comments

  1. A fine piece of work I must say.......
    However, there are many gaps in the story which make the reader feel a little disconnected..... But still I like the story and it's way of presentation....... Reminds me of an epistolary novel in some way...... I suppose it would've won the prize......

    Yours truly,
    Shadow

    ReplyDelete

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