Jeremy, who was nine-years-old, mostly kept to himself.
His walk home had been boring for the first month of fourth grade, until he had altered his usual course along the sidewalk and took a shortcut through the woods.
Less than a quarter mile from his house, he stumbled across an old playground, which became his secret pit stop and hiding place on report card days.
Even though a C in math made him happy, his parents thought he could do better.
The playground that he’d found was surrounded by a fence which had aged into a saggy mesh of rusted chicken wire.
Inside, the swing set had been overturned, the slide was rusted through, and the spring mounted animals all looked like they had been attacked by carnivores.
But one piece of equipment was still functional.
It was strange, as it was the first one he had ever seen that was built for three. And though he was a loner, you’d be surprised how well he could go up and down after putting his backpack over the handle bar on the opposite end.
Jeremy made the secret seesaw a part of his weekday routine. Up and down. Up and down. Ten minutes each day after school while his backpack stared back at him from the other side.
For two school quarters, no one even seemed to notice his tardiness at home.
Then one week in early October, there was talk about a unique weekend event. It had been on the front page of the neighborhood news flyer and everyone was looking forward to the coming Friday night.
A Blue moon.
The word was that you could only count on seeing one maybe once a year.
It seemed like the whole neighborhood was out in their front yards that Friday night.
Mom and Dad had taken out the telescope and were grilling hotdogs.
All in all, Jeremy couldn’t see what all the excitement was about. The moon was full but besides that he didn’t seem to think there was anything special about it.
After eating his hotdog, naturally he became bored and snuck away, jogging out to the old playground, alone as always.
It was the first time he’d gone at night but the full moon made it so easy to see that he thought little of the time. Any fear he may have felt evaporated as soon as he arrived and saw the surprise that awaited him.
There was another boy!
He was sitting on the other side of the seesaw and seemed just as surprised to see Jeremy as he was to see him.
“Hello,” said Jeremy.
“Howdy friend. Would you like to play with me? It is not easy to use this thing alone,” asked the boy.
Jeremy was more excited than the boy could know and with an eager smile he joined him on the seesaw and began to jump and squat in his usual manner.
The two boys, David and Jeremy, laughed and chatted while the other neighborhood children likely still stared at the sky.
After his ten minutes were up, Jeremy still had one question that had been on his mind since finding this playground. He asked David before leaving.
“What’s up with the third seat? I’ve never seen a seesaw built for three.”
All David would say was that it was where his little sister used to sit ‘before the accident’.
The after-school walk became a treat for Jeremy. Now, each day he arrived in his secret playground David was there waiting. Just like the first night of the blue moon.
They became great friends over the next year.
The only time the two didn’t get to secretly play together was during that summer when Jeremy had gone to stay with his grandparents. But when the first day of school had come back around and Jeremy returned, David was there waiting again.
It wasn’t long before the neighborhood was abuzz with the annual coming of the blue moon again. This time, Jeremy wasn’t going to get suckered into believing that the moon was actually going to be blue!
No. He had already decided that he would sneak off and meet David the first chance he got.
While Dad was grilling the wieners and Mom was setting up the telescope, he crept behind the hedges and then ran off to the playground under the light of the big blue moon.
Just a few minutes after Jeremy made his escape, his mom noticed that he was nowhere to be found, and before eating his dinner no less!
She started off down the street, asking the neighbors along the way which way her son had been heading.
Meanwhile, Jeremy was stepping over the downed fence and into the playground when he saw that David was not alone. There was another person perched in the strange middle-saddle of their seesaw.
It was a little girl, maybe six-years-old.
Cautiously, Jeremy walked up and got onto his usual seat. The seesaw was now so evenly balanced that it just sat there level, six tiny feet dangling above the ground.
Jeremy had to really struggle in order to finally get it started properly.
“So, who’s this?” he finally asked when they began their rhythmic up and downs.
The little girl was smiling and enjoying the ride.
“This is my sister, Julie,” said David.
“Yeah, I’m Julie. But I can’t play long because I’m going to have an accident soon,” said the girl eerily.
“Accident?” asked Jeremy, “What kind of accident?”
Both David and Julie stopped smiling altogether.
Just then, Jeremy’s mom had come upon the playground and was trying to get his attention from over the fence.
“Jeremy! You come on now. You haven’t even eaten your dinner!”
Startled and seeing his mother waving in the moonlight, Jeremy stepped off the seesaw and said goodbye to his strange new friends. Then, he ran over to Mom.
“Isn’t it hard to ride a seesaw by yourself?” she asked.
“Oh, I wasn’t by myself, there was David and Julie…”
But when Jeremy looked back at the seesaw they had vanished.
“I didn’t see anyone. There was only you, talking into thin air,” she said. “I was worried when I realized you had run off before dinner.”
Jeremy couldn’t think of what to say as he walked back toward the house with his mom.
“What’s the matter? You don’t think the blue moon is interesting?” she asked teasingly.
After school the next day, David and Julie weren’t waiting for Jeremy at the playground.
He reluctantly placed his backpack back in David’s usual spot and spent a few minutes riding alone before going home.
To his surprise, a new boy named Peter had moved in next door and he was Jeremy’s age. Mom said that they would be walking back and forth to school together from now on.
While sitting in the cafeteria, Jeremy explained to Peter everything about the old playground and promised to show him after school. But when he told Peter the names of his mysterious friends, Peter got really frightened.
“My parents said that the old folks that we bought the house from had a son and daughter named David and Julie, but that they died in a horrible accident,” Peter explained.
“Maybe that’s why they weren’t there yesterday?” Jeremy said.
“No,” said Peter, “they said that happened more than fifty years ago.”
Jeremy and Peter became close friends, though never once did they find David and Julie waiting on the old seesaw together.
But rumor has it, that sometimes during the blue moon, you can still hear kids laughing in that old abandoned playground.
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