Beneath the Slide

By Noel Vanderbilt

His hand was small within my grasp
warm and sticky
like peanut butter smeared on rosy cheeks.

I tugged him past the swings,
my head lowered,
his blue eyes lifted,
carefree like waves.

Their jeering laughter hung above
shattering
the playground air into a million shards.

Now he heard the monsters too.

I shook and clenched my teeth
tasting blood
but looked away as taunting faces blurred.

He turned and smiled at their sneers,
sticky fingers
lifted in a wave.

Fingers pointing,
callous hearts,
splitting mine in half.

Laughing,
waving,
pointing,
breaking.

I cried beneath the slide that day.

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