What comes between us

The sun was setting on a warm day when David walked into the park. There was a two person bench swing in the corner of the park. A thin girl in a bright pink dress and long brown hair pulled into a pony tail over her shoulder lazily kicked her feet, moving the swing back and forth.  David walked over to the swing and sat beside her.  He held the chain beside him loosely in one hand and stretched his other arm along the back of the swing, behind her, to hold the other chain, as if he were afraid he’d fall and needed the added security. The girl leaned into his red shirted torso, settling her cheek on his collar bone.

“Hello, David.”

“Hey, Molly.”

She looked up at him and smiled. He smiled shakily back.

“I missed you David. What took you so long to come back?”

“I’ve just… I’ve just been busy is all” he replied nervously.

“With what?” She looked up at him with that same sweet smile. He paused.

“Listen, Molly. Maybe I shouldn’t…. maybe I shouldn’t come here anymore.”

“What?” Molly sat up and moved away a little, looking at him with a shocked, hurt look. “Why? Oh…” Molly’s expression suddenly turned to one of anger. “It’s her isn’t it? Your mother. Well, it’s none of her business. You’re old enough to make your own decisions, David. Don’t listen to her. I love you.”

“I know, Molly, I… it’s just…. She says you aren’t real.” David looked away, unwilling to see her reaction.

“What? That’s ridiculous. You know me. You know I’m real.”

“Well, it’s… no one else can see you Molly, just me.”

“Well, of course, silly. You’re the only one that ever could. You’re special.”

“But, Molly, what if they’re right? What if I need help?”

“Don’t do this, David. You know that isn’t true.”

“Then why am I the only one?”

Molly’s stare became intense. She turned David’s chin toward her, forcing him to look at her.

“You know why, David.”

David stares back at her. Both of their expressions have gone blank. Eyes sharing secrets that no one else has heard.

“Yeah,” David finally replies. “Yeah, I know.”

TWO DAYS LATER

Molly’s sitting on the swing again, in her bright pink dress, waiting for David when he pulls into the parking lot in his beat up old truck. He approaches her slowly from behind, watching her sandaled feet as they kick back and forth. She looks real. More than that, she looks beautiful.

“Molly.” He calls.

“David!” She yells back, turning to face him. But she doesn’t leave the swing. She never leaves the swing.

“I missed you, David.” She says as he sits down beside her.

“I missed you too.”

“It’s so boring here without you.”

“What do you do, when I’m not here?” He asks. Strange, that he’s never asked her this before, never wondered.

“I watch the children mostly. And just think, a lot.” She says with a smile.

“Do you ever leave the swing?”

“No.” Her smile fades and her eyes go cloudy. She’s remembering. David tries to distract her.

“Hey, so you remember that book I was telling you about? The one with the boy who falls in love with a ghost?”

“Yeah.” That smile is back. She looks like an angel.

“Well, I brought it.” And David begins to read.

THREE DAYS LATER

David and Molly are sitting on the swing. Molly in her pink dress, and David in a disheveled blue T-shirt and baggy jeans. His hair’s a mess, while hers is in the same perfect pony tail.

“They’re sending you away?” Molly asks in a shaky, terrified voice. “They can’t! I need you!”

“Don’t worry, Molly. I won’t go. I won’t let them take me! You’re real. This is real. I won’t leave you, Molly. I promise!”

“I’ll always love you David.” Molly sobs. “Promise you won’t go.”

“I promise, Molly.”

A car horn honks and David turns toward it then back to Molly.

“I’ll be back, Molly. I promise. Maybe I can’t come every day,  like I usually do, but I will come back.”

“Okay.” Molly sniffles. “Okay, I trust you. I’ll wait for you. I love you, David.”

“Love you too, Molly.” David hugs her then walks slowly away toward the car, looking back often. Now he’s crying too.

IN A HOSPITAL, MENTAL HEALTH WARD, AS NURSE JEFFERSON IS MAKING HER ROUNDS

Nurse Tiffany Jefferson pushed the cart of medicine down the hall towards her last patient of the day. Already, Tiffany was planning what else she had to do that day before she could lay down for the night.

Let’s see.” She thought. “The dog needs his nails trimmed; I’ll have to make an appointment with the groomers. Oh, and Alice needs her costume ready for the school play, I’ll have to work on that. I’ll stop by the crafts store on the way home. Oh, and Jack’s football game. Oh, I do hope Robby got that promotion…”

The patient was sitting in the chair by the window, as always.

“Okay, Molly, time for your medicine.” Nurse Jefferson said, handing the girl the small cup with her medicine in it and a cup of water.

The girl turned, smiling as always. Her eyes stared emptily at Tiffany as she took the medication and swallowed it. Then she smiled once more as she handed the cup back to the nurse and turned, once again, to the window.

I’ll stop at the grocery store after the crafts store to get supper. What should we have tonight? Lasagna maybe?…” The nurse continued with her musings as she left the room. Just before nurse Jefferson closed the door, she heard Molly’s half whispered statement,

“I love you, David.”

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