Siena Milia Hansen–The World Entire
I waited in that old tire swing for his Chevy to quake the pavement. Papa promised me, you see. I would wait here, he would return, and this time he would stay.
I spun and spun those waiting days away, the world passing by faster that way. I would bring him home, I said to George, speeding up the globe in orbiting roping twirls that smacked of swallowed air and smelled of spoiling winter rain.
Mother disparaged the state of my auburn curls and the rubber blackened tar beneath my knees. George, he kept to the barn, to grazing the mare and half-breed ponies. He no longer climbed the maple trees or stole the sweet combed honey from the neighboring bees. Now he was a man, the man of the house, a man of the land.
Mama just washed and washed the dishes until she lost her fine French nails to the lye. Little Peter dragged around that threadbare blanket beneath his heels. All through the house he cried and cried for something he was too young to name.
My name: Emma Jane. I heard it every day, in my mind, just the way my father used to say it when he spoke on behalf of Miss Hannah the Hare. I thought of those days when Hannah and he told me stories of weedless cabbage patches and hungry wolves, tales of badgers in bow ties and wily snails that bested the bravest of big brown grizzly bears.
With me Hannah hung by a paw or by an ear, listening for the rumble of the gravel drive, for that white Chevy to appear. But she was silent now, like George, like little Pete.
I sat cross legged in the springtime grass. I watched the world kaleidoscope inside that thick black tire frame. It swayed in the wind, taking the whole world in. Swing, swing, and spin. I held the rope, I held on tight to the promise he made. Angry blisters burned on my skin from those wet, contracting, woven folds.
Then I knew what I must do. I dragged on George until he came and helped me cut that old tire swing away. That old white Chevy was never worth its salt. You’ll see, I said, he’s broken down, and has no spare. “He must be stuck out there on the other side of town,” said Hannah the Hare.
We three, George, little Pete, and me, we hoisted and wheeled that hulking black round that contained in it the world entire. Its treads marked the dusty road that led into town. At the bend we lost the tire loose atop the hill. And so it was that we watched that big black world go spinning down, end on end, and straight through the center of town. George, he smiled, and little Pete laughed. Take it to him, we told the hill, bring him home.
It took a day and a little more for us to find our world awash downstream in the river’s bend. We sat there on the bank a good long while. George threw the first of angry stones and then with sticks and silent tears we prodded that old entire world along. It dislodged and spun once more, and then it, too, was gone.