At the end of the world there is a swing, and it teeters back and forth. The swing hovers over nothingness, an abyss of black and starlight. At the end of the world there is a swing, and you can come up and sit on it if you like. The thing is not for the faint of heart, there is nothing to hold onto except the strings by which it is attached to branches that come from the sky. At the end of the world there is a swing and on this swing there are letters that have faded away over centuries and millennia so they mean something different.

The swing at the end of the world has been carved into by those who have felt it more necessary to leave their mark on its body than use it for its intended purpose. The swing at the end of the world is old and has holes in it, and looks like it may break any second. Sitting on it feel like sitting on a butterfly wing that could crack in midair, leaving you to the depths of the unknown. It’s why people sit there, why they wait, put their names on lists for years to get a chance to come near the swing at the end of the world. You have five minutes there, those are the rules, and you can do whatever you choose. There are initials all over the swing, so many of them that you could not possibly tell who is who.

This is the way they lived, you think to yourself, carving their names into everything, making sure people see instead of enjoying the ride. There are those who just swing for a whole five minutes looking up, at the stars in the sky, at the darkness, at the branches that curl and wind up into a smoky sky.

There are those who jump, come to the swing for their final moment. Maybe they are old, sometimes they are not, but you never hear any sound, there is never that dreaded thunk of a body making contact with anything at all. If they scream, it simply fades away into the dark. There are those who spend their time at the swing looking over its edges with a flashlight, some with an even bigger light. There was one man who came all the way here dragging a giant telescope and a foglight.

But you’ll find at the swing at the end of the world that all light becomes absorbed, all things that once worked seemed to work, all things that make sense do not. There are those who are lucky, whose parents have put their names down for the swing at the end of the world the second they were born, so they get here long before they are old and wise. They say that there is a profound peace at the end of the world, that life seems to float off and reveal itself in its true form.

Life is much like the names on the swing, important for a short while, but rapidly covered by the names of others, other people who are breathing and existing and for that reason only feel as though your time is now over and wasted, your time is now meaningless.

The swing at the end of the world is just like you would picture it, it is long and vast. It’s not a secret, although plenty do not feel the need to go here. It becomes quite the journey, and few are willing to take it. After all, you only get five minutes on the swing at the end of the world, what could possibly become of that?

You could find yourself thinking of breakfast, or politics, or love that you lost and never found again, but I don’t think it scares people because the time could be wasted. We are afraid, are we not? Of being naked in the face of the choices we make, being shown our true selves without our own vanity to cover up the things we don’t like.

The swing at the end of the world is in all the newspapers, at least once a month, with someone coming back uplifted. I do not feel uplifted, but that is not the goal now is it?

There is a swing at the end of the world, and when you sit on its butterfly wing you realize that the pendulum of life is a vast and unalterable thing. Your head bobs back and forth with the most profound quiet, and the world falls away and becomes the thing it was meant to be, rather than what it has become.

The problem, with coming back from the swing at the end of the world, is that you cannot forget the way things are meant to be, but you must still exist with the way they are.

 

Noah Silliman

Solitary

A Short Conversation is a collection of stories, thoughts, and general musing. I like to write like I'm slamming a door; loudly, and with purpose.

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