Swings

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Some people said they were too old for swings.

They pitied those people.

Some people also thought Marian was too old, and Alice ought to have more friends her own age. Alice encouraged those sorts of comments, not because she agreed with them, but because she thought Marin was special and was glad not to have to share.

Together the drank a small ocean of tea every Friday, and brought sweets to unloved children on Saturdays. Sundays were for sundaes, as everyone knows, and on Mondays they danced and drank whiskey and didn’t care who new it. Tuesdays they saved for stray cats and dogs, who ate better at their table than most people did. Wednesdays and Thursdays they never saw each other – not once. Marian said it was good to have stories to tell, even to your best friend in the whole world, and how would they get new stories if they were always together?

It was a Wednesday when she bought the swing set, and a Thursday when she had it delivered to the old stone house. She never cared much for gardens, too much love to give to something that would never love you back, she said, but it left a pleasant space for the swings. There were crickets there in the dry grass, and birds in the trees above. When the chains began to creak it was like their own private symphony, off-key and to an unconventional meter, but that was perhaps the most accurate melody of their lives.

Marion had no children, though there had once been a husband, and Alice had a mother who had never shown interest in acting like one, but to say they were mother and daughter would not do them justice – they were, and always would be, Marion and Alice.

Even years later, when Alice came to live in the house – which had always been equally hers in Marion’s eyes anyway – she would tell the children and cats and dogs that she and Marion hoped they enjoyed the treats. She would hold a second chair at the dance hall table. They would always be Marion and Alice, even when every day had become Wednesday-Thursday. She hoped Marion was making great new stories, somewhere. And hoped that if Friday ever came, Marion would enjoy the life of stories she was making for herself too. They would have so much to say, while the tea steeped and the swings creaked their unconventional melody.

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