Thursday October 9th, 2014

The exercise:

It's been a while since the First Line Prompt last made an appearance here, so I'm bringing it back for another visit. Use the following line as your opening and then take it wherever inspiration tells you to go:

The playground on South Street was not a friendly, welcoming sort of place.

Inspired by this afternoon's trip to the playground with Max, though only in the loosest possible sense. We hadn't been there in quite some time and he was very excited to get reacquainted with the various pieces of equipment.

It was nice to get there again while the weather is still nice. Will have to make that more of a priority as long as this trend of clear skies and warm temperatures continues.


The playground on South Street was not a friendly, welcoming sort of place. Visitors were greeted by a barbed wire fence patrolling the perimeter of the area and the only way in was through a jagged hole that had been cut by only the good lord knows who.

All of the equipment was covered with rust and peeling paint and at least three playsets could be seen peering over the weeds from where they lay in collapsed heaps. The neighbours had obviously been using the place as a landfill for quite some time, judging by the smell.

None of that stopped kids from playing there, of course. At least those whose parents didn't have much interest in their activities outside of their homes - as long as they were out of their hair for a few hours and came home alive, preferably before dark, all was well.

My mom wouldn't let me near the place. Looking back now, it's easy to see the love behind that decision. At the time, though?

I hated her for it.

I mean, how in the world was I going to become one of the cool kids if I wasn't allowed to go to the one place they were guaranteed to be found?


Greg said...

You're taking Max to a playground surrounded by barbed wire? I guess it's the whole World War I experience... good for you! ;-)
It sounds like you had a nice day at your playground anyway, for all its given you some slightly odd inspiration :) I like your playground though, with its smell, its... accoutrements, and your punchline. Rather nicely drawn and brought to life, I think!

The playground on South Street was not a friendly, welcoming sort of place. The sign on the gate, which most of the mothers ignored because they couldn't read it, read "Keep out" in Klingon, and the high metal fence (reminiscent of that of a concentration camp) was actually electrified. Not that any of the mothers, stood outside smoking cigarettes (away from the children, they confided to each other) and drinking bootleg moonshine (the kind of stuff that first gave you a cough, and then put hairs on that cough) from brown-paper bags, noticed.
The sand-pit was filled with quicksand, predictably enough, but the empties that the mothers discarded somehow contrived to end up, broken and savage, at the bottom of the pit. Even the children who were tall enough to stand up in it didn't dare risk it. It sometimes snared the occasional unwary urban fox as well, which made it slighly more lethal.
The ground beneath the swings and the see-saw was supposed to be softened by wood chips but the council had saved a large upfront capital sum, and significant recurring annual costs, by using asbestos pellets instead. Little puffs of white "fairy dust" rose into the air with every eager footfall and circulated throughout the playground.
In the far corner, in a small wooden hut that abutted (but didn't touch) the electrified fence, were the maintenance tools, shiny and untouched as when they were first bought, and the caretaker; a woman with yellowing teeth and ivory hair destined to spend years in front of courts listening while children showed the judge on the doll where she touched them. Sometimes they'd need bigger dolls, and other times they'd need specialised dolls as well. Sometimes they need additional implements. She would sit on a deckchair whose seat was almost torn out, baleful eyes surveying the scene before her and a cheroot dangling smokily between her fingers. Her tattoos started at her wrists and ran up her arms and down her torso, and the children being able to describe some of them in detail would eventually lead to her being sentenced to jail.
But, in spite of all this, the playground on North Street was less welcoming still.

Marc said...

Gah, spotted at least two typos while reading over mine. I'll be fixing those shortly...

Greg - hah. As I said, inspired in the loosest sense possible :P

Yeesh, your sandpit is rather horrifying! I do quite like how you used fairy dust as a descriptor, and your caretaker is wonderfully described.

And I do *not* want to know what sort of place you'd turn the playground on North Street into...