I was the misfit king
of the 1970’s school
playground. While other boys
opted for kickball, dodge
ball, and violence. I mastered
Tetherball, Double Dutch, Chinese
jump rope. Nothing left to conquer,
I moved on to free standing bars,
one short, one tall. They were
a motionless dangerous duo made of
cool-to-the-touch metal. Each
contained a single horizontal bar,
held up by more metal resembling
goal posts. Some used them for
chin ups, pulls ups. I was double
dared to perform the cherry drop.
Sitting on top of the tall bar, I had
a broad view of recess and beyond.
Around me they gathered: my classmates
with blood hungry eyes, waiting.
I’d seen others do the illegal maneuver
but had never tried the trick, not
out of fear, but out of my already
secret desire to perfect perfection.
With the backs of my knees hooked,
I tilted back. The world flipped
upside down. I breathed in
and smelt the wooden bark beneath me,
pieces of evil we knew better to walk
barefoot on because it gave you splinters
between your toes. I knew the bark
would never cushion my fall. I knew
I wasn’t allowed to fail. I started to
move back and forth, forward and back,
gaining momentum and speed. I was
a human eight-year-old rocket, ready
for my first taste of notoriety, gossip,
hot shot fame. I propelled myself
through the air, knowing from that day
forward I would always land on my feet.
Wren Valentino is an author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter. He writes in multiple genres, primarily contemporary romance with an international setting. Wren earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. He is a member of Gothic Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. He loves film noir, white chocolate, classic cartoons, koalas, Julie London records, Nancy Drew, the Peanuts gang, Disney villains, all things Tiki, Italy, and everything written by Jane Austen.
© 2020, Wren Valentino