Four Plus One 01: Monkey Bars

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This piece is longer and more elaborate, so I’d like your opinion, or a vote would be nice. I’d like to acknowledge Secretsxywriter, whose work gave me inspiration.


Three, two, one, GO!

Lanny swung off the platform, grasping the overhead bars. She quickly recalled the sensation of her hands on the rounded steel, the pinch of skin on her palms and the pressure on her fingers. She swung herself along the overhead ladder hand over hand, as she had done so many times before. The weight of her nineteen-year old body was more than her hands had been used to however.

She reached the next platform. Her friends cheered and urged her on. She stepped onto the suspended beam. The trick for speed was to run and not use the handrails, but the beam’s erratic movement, as well as its creaking, pinching chains, made this difficult. She remembered this as much harder than it looked. But she made it. Now up the boards.

This was a wooden slope made of boards laid crosswise, too steep to climb without using the rope that hung down the ramp. Lanny’s hands smarted from the overhead ladder, but she could still haul herself up to the next level. She was panting now.

This next challenge was a large spiral tube, tilted downwards. It had always reminded her of a giant’s trampoline spring, big enough to climb inside, stretched then frozen (as often happened to giants in the stories she used to read). The trick here, she remembered, was not to crawl but to bear-walk on hands and feet. But her adult size made this extremely challenging and she kept hitting her spine against the upper tubes. Probably a good thing I’m wearing tights, she thought as she felt her skirt riding up. Halfway round.

The oversized steps, so hard those years ago, were now easy for her strong lean legs to climb, as was crossing the wobbly bridge. It still made the best noise, an almighty clattering . But she now had a bit too much speed when she reached the fireman’s pole. She grabbed the pole and locked her legs round it. Her momentum pushed her pubic bone against the steel pole just as she started to slide down. A tingling flood of sensations and memories washed over her.

That brief instant of weightlessness. The friction warming her hands. The recollection of hours in junior school, spent climbing, running, chasing, breathless fun. And another kind of breathless… connected with her panties getting stretched up just inside her by the pressure of the pole. A stronger recollection…

Twelve years old. A bright sunny day. Almost too hot to play. The asphalt warmed her shoes, the steel poles were like the oven door when good things were baking. There were only a few kids on the bars. A new kid was guardedly watching her sizing up the different activities.

She had noticed him when he arrived. He had exotic olive skin, a shade different from the tanned Anglos of the class. He had dark curly hair which tended to hang over his eyes, dark eyebrows above a straight nose, generous lips for a boy. He was quiet and thoughtful, especially when so new to the school. He spoke with a slight accent and used some unusual words, like ‘exclaim’ or ‘wistful’. Clearly from some faraway place, yet his name was Danny. Lanny was fascinated by him. She secretly watched him whenever she could. She knew how he rested his pencil on his soft lips when he paused and stared into space during writing time. She wanted to touch those lips – a thought which surprised her. She wanted to touch his springy hair as well.

On this day he was the one watching her. She felt somehow challenged, so impulsively she tried something new.

She leapt up to the overhead ladder bars. Getting used to the feel of her hands on the rounded steel, she started to swing, feeling the pinch of skin on her palms. Then instead of going along, she swung across the line of the ladder, almost facing Danny so her legs were kicking towards him. She swung herself backwards and forwards. At the top of the swing she bent her legs up over the bar and they moved easily down each side, pulling her up so she was sitting astride the pole. The movement worked better than she expected.

Danny seemed impressed: he watched the whole thing without blinking. Or perhaps it was the expression on Lanny’s face above. As she looked down at him, warm tingles were coming out from between her legs. They felt great; they seemed to be stronger when she stared at his lips, or those strong eyes of his, or his beautiful curly hair. Her breathing changed. She rocked on the pole slightly and the tingles were stronger again. They stared at each other for how long? She had no idea, not a clue.

A second had passed in current time. She got to the base of the fireman’s pole. Playground Rules allowed you one step across the woodchips to the squares.

‘The squares’ was a large steel grid stood on its side, six squares high by eight across, giving it its name. The rules required you to climb one end, go along the top row, cross over and go down the opposite side. Lanny’s chafed hands complained, but she was having too much fun illegal bahis to stop. Up one end, shuffle along, swing legs over, twisting as you go. With a flurry of skirt fabric she was down. She was allowed two steps to the flying fox platform. On the deck she grasped the handle overhead and launched herself. The little truck raced along the rail, screeching and rumbling, and crashed into the plate at the far end. Lanny was expecting this and let the momentum send her legs flying up in front of her. She felt the air up her legs and inner thighs, adding to the tingles from the pole. She landed confidently on the platform and threw out her hands like an Olympic gymnast. She felt the familiar breathless excitement and the sense of her body moving well. The circuit was complete when the flying fox hit the plate.

“WOW! That was great! Eighteen seconds!” Her friends were clapping. She was a little surprised however: she’d got better times when at school. Perhaps her body asking for more of that touching had distracted her.

She gazed around the playground. It was her old Catholic junior school, attached to the church. She was back in her home town, with friends from the city, where she now lived and studied. She wouldn’t have called herself religious, but she had loved her schooling, and now recognised the spiritual respect it had taught her. She believed in God, so when a devout friend insisted on going to church that Sunday, all four of them made a morning of it to see the place that had told Lanny God approved of self-pleasure…

God loved Lanny. She knew this deep in her being, in every throw and step she took. The one nun still teaching told her. The Masses told her. The songs of a Friday afternoon, classic oldies accompanied by the teachers on electric organ and guitar, they told her absolutely. A happy life in a happy family and a happy school, it was obvious to her. And she loved Him back, loved His creation, His gifts to her of mind and body. She even thanked Him for sending someone as fascinating as Danny to observe.

So, when she straddled the monkey bars and found this wonderful tickling sensation between her legs, she thanked Him for that too. Childishly she associated it only with the bars, another wonderful sensation, like the terror of being so high on the squares, or the rush of the flying fox. A few years later she read about boys and girls “pleasuring themselves” and she made the connection. Fortunately the article she was reading emphasised masturbation as natural and normal, so she seemed to sidestep the guilt that afflicts so many on this topic. She started to explore herself, discovering even more wonderful, tickling sensations. She never doubted that, if she was a loving God’s perfect creation, something that felt so good must be right.

Her college friends had burst out laughing when she explained this one night, very drunk, with re-enactments of significant – and more intimate – scenes. She was sincere none the less, and they were good-natured, so they accepted her very individual theology. The devout one, Andrea, was in tears. “Thank you, so much. You don’t know what this means to me. You’ve freed me. Oh, thank you!” That sobered everyone up that night. For a moment, anyway.

Who was that? Someone, half-familiar, was watching from across the playground. Messy curly hair, hanging over the eyes, a straight nose, generous lips… no. Not possible.

She strode over the grass towards the man, who held her gaze as she approached. The strong eyes, maybe heavier-lidded now, below weathered cheeks. He had a slim build, a hardy, survivor look to him. He wore a leather jacket with big scuffs down one side, possibly after coming off a bike the wrong way.

She stopped, still in the school grounds. He stood in the street, not aggressively, but not backing away. Silence, except for the familiar rustling leaves. They recognised each other.

“Danny? It’s Danny, isn’t it. You went to school here.”

“Hi, Lanny.” He gazed at her, then looked up at the church on the rise behind her and the three other girls staring intently at them. “I had an inkling you were here.”

The voice was rougher than she remembered. Well, his voice has broken for a start, she thought. And he still uses unusual words. But what does he mean? An inkling I’d be, in town? At Mass??

He must have noticed her puzzled look. “I’ve been up country a while. I haven’t been back in town long at all. Someone, something told me, you might be around. So, it’s Sunday and I’m walking past the old church. I always say hello to God on Sundays. And what do I see? Some crazy lady on the monkey bars. I knew it was you as soon as I beheld you.” He smiled crookedly.

Beheld. From behold, to look upon, esp. something remarkable or impressive. What a word. He still has the accent, too. And I’d forgotten about his smile. It only happened rarely.

Lanny’s friends had joined them now, uncertain what might happen between their friend and a stranger in a biker jacket.

“Girls, this is Danny. Danny with the curly hair and the accent. Danny, these illegal bahis siteleri are the girls. Phoebe, Melanie and Andrea, who also talks to God. She’s the reason we’re here, not me.”

One friend interrupted. “And to see the monkey bars!” The other girls chuckled. “Call me Mel, please!”

Danny was almost gravely courteous, nodding to each one. “All Greek names, interestingly. Pleased to meet you. Andrea, we all talk to God in different ways, yes?” He was not your average stranger in a biker jacket. The girls were very intrigued, knowing Danny’s part in the monkey bar theology. Here he was in person, almost on cue, a man but with the characteristics exactly as Lanny described. It nearly felt pre-arranged. Mel took charge.

“Danny, it’s a pleasure to meet you. We’ve heard lots about you from Lanny, but I think we want to hear your side of the story. Can we go for a coffee? Do you have any plans?”

“Anything I had planned can wait ’till after a coffee date with four attractive young ladies.” What a charmer. Phoebe rolled her eyes at Mel but still smiled at the compliment. “To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what today would bring, but I knew to wait for it.” A charmer and a riddler?

Coffee turned into coffee and cake, two plates of nachos, a sundae then a kind of savoury afternoon tea to cover for missed lunch. All four girls were charmed by his old-fashioned courtesy and remarkable stories. They laughed and chatted, told their own stories and were shocked by his.

Lanny had continued her happy life, finishing school well and going on to study Science at university. “Physics!” Danny was impressed. “I knew you could do anything you chose. Physics, that’s good. Cosmology too!”

“It was the monkey bars. The forces involved fascinated me. I always wanted to understand what was happening. High school physics explained some, but I wanted more. And astrophysics is just monkey bars on a galactic scale.” (DON’T let her try and explain it, the three others cried).

Danny had taken a different road. Troubles with his brother had led him to leave school early, working on cars and trucks, driving them; occasionally stealing them. He’d worked in different towns. He’d been in juvenile detention. He’d been in fights and car crashes. “A dealer drove me off the road,” he said, pointing to his damaged leather jacket. “A beautiful old bike, a Norton. It was a gift from a mate’s dad. We used to work on it together. Sometimes, yeah. He’d look at me and weep quietly. His son, my mate, had been killed. I used to wonder if it was the dealer who… Anyway, the bike was a wreck, so I decided to drive after that.” The rare crooked smile flashed again.

He had good stories too, like driving the cattle trucks while under-age. Getting angry cattle loaded in dusty outback yards. The smell after days of driving them into town…

“I was at the traffic lights in town. This lady stopped too close behind. I could see her in the mirrors and I knew what was going to happen, but I couldn’t do anything about it. A country driver might’ve known to hang back a bit, but in town – you can guess, Miss Physics, what happened to the cowshit when I drove off on the green?”

Lanny thought, then giggled, then burst into sobs of laughter. Danny continued.

“I’m guessing there was a waterfall of stinky brown muck off the deck, all over the place. I saw her in the mirrors, she’d pulled over. The car was brown from windscreen to bumper. Would’ve gone in the air vents, the radiator, everywhere. She had the wipers on but it just seemed to make it worse. Cowshit everywhere. I did feel sorry for her, but what could I do?”

The girls laughed, secretly relieved it wasn’t them behind the truck. Who’s thinking about the inertia of cowshit when you’re driving?

By now it was dark, but no one wanted to stop the conversation. They moved on to a nearby pub and settled in with some harder drinks. Lanny found herself studying this man, just as she had been fascinated by the boy so many years ago. He was attractive; what was it about him that made it so? His experiences? His courtesy? His accent? She had another cider. The other girls found him alluring too. Phoebe would touch the jacket when she spoke to him. Andrea asked him odd meaning-of-life questions that she wouldn’t risk on a stranger. Mel’s questions were starting to get suggestive. They all gave him more attention than someone’s old friend would normally get. On top of that, Lanny noticed with a tipsy detachment, we’re all enjoying this. No one’s going too fast or getting jealous, not even me. He was my old friend, but now he belongs to everyone.

“No, no boyfriends for any of us, I don’t think. Although, Lanny’s shown us she’s a bit of a dark horse! Hiding you from us! Can you make any… suggestions??” Mel, that’s going too far. No more ciders for you.

Phoebe touched the grazes on the jacket, again. “Did you get those scars on your hands from the crash?”

“I used to clear minefields in Africa, then one day… no, not really, just from welding. The solder spits sometimes. canlı bahis siteleri Or handling barbed wire when I was fencing, I can’t remember.” City-bred Phoebe suppressed a shudder.

“Remember you said, all, all Greek names?” Lanny was finding a few words hard to say as the ciders started to take charge. “That includes me, y’know. I’ve never told this to hardly anyone. Lanny’s short for, short for,” She paused for one last hesitation, “Atlantia.”

The girls murmured surprise, but Danny seemed stilled, stunned. He looked at her with his strong eyes. “Atlantia. From the Atlas Mountains.”

“How did you know?” But the conversation moved on.

Later, up at the bar, Lanny found herself with Danny. She pulled him around into a darkened corner, a little away from the others. She spoke angrily.

“How did you know about the Atlas Mountains? I thought that was my secret! What else do you know? Are you stalking me or something?”

Danny smiled. “How could I do that? I’ve been inland a couple of years now. I didn’t know you were even here. I only knew my life would change.”

This riled her more. “You knew, you knew. How? Someone told you. More riddles?”

He was serious now. “Not a person. A voice. I get told, but I have to listen hard. Sometimes I miss it, then I realise much later, I hadn’t been receptive.” His unusual words again. “After going to school here, I think it’s God. I think it was He who told me my life would change. I knew I had to come back, but to where? I came back to this town because of the school. This was my best one, out of quite a few. It was here they told me God was everywhere, and caring for us, so I decided it was His voice. And you, you were the best thing there. I think of you a lot. My favourite memory is of you, on the monkey bars, one lunchtime. It was hot and – are you OK?”

She clutched the leather jacket, feeling his strength. His arm came around her, held her steady against the reeling. Sensation of creaking leather, muffled quiet, staring up at the bright lights. She watched as the counter of the bar slowly went back to horizontal. The lights dimmed to their correct brightness. The pub noises returned. His strong eyes softened with concern as he looked down at her, holding her up against his chest. She studied his face, closer now than she’d ever been before. His eyes, the strong eyebrows, his straight nose. She was almost under the unruly curly hair, with him. She reached her hand up and gently touched his cheek. She brushed his generous lips with her thumb.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she whispered, circling his mouth. Tingles moved down her arm.

“I’ve wanted to do more than that.” His breath was warm on her thumb.

He embraced her. His lips came to hers. They kissed. She closed her eyes as their lips brushed; lips opened and tongues found each other, tentatively at first, then more and more. She felt dizzy again, felt a tingling all through her body this time, a need to feel him more. Soft lips, the odd bristle to add more tingles. They kissed for how long? She had no idea, not a clue. Then a finger tapped her shoulder.

It was Andrea. “Mel wants you to go all night, but the rest of us thought you should come back to the table. We’re not peeking, by the way. We can see everything in the mirror beside you.” Lanny spun round, to see herself up close, looking quite flushed and breathless. Everyone had a good laugh, which eased her embarrassment.

More laughs, more stories, more drinks. Then Danny pushed his chair back.

“Ladies, this has truly been a pleasure, but I feel I must leave you. I think my life’s going to change soon, and I’d like to be ready for that when it comes.”

“Ooh, the man of mystery speaks!”

“I suppose it is getting late. We’ve had our fill of surprises for the day.”

“Speak for yourself! Too much is barely enough!”

Andrea was silent, but held Danny’s hand tightly as she looked into his eyes. “God bless,” she said quietly.

“Here’s my blessing!” Mel put in. She leaned over and energetically kissed him on the mouth. He put a hand gently on her shoulder.

Phoebe interrupted this time. “So, where are you staying? We’re all on Lanny’s bedroom floor…” They all sensed the unspoken possibilities.

Danny moved deftly through the pause. “You won’t believe this, but I’m upstairs. I’ve got a room in this hotel. I had wondered if you knew when we came into the lounge. Just through there you’ll find the stairs.”

Mel was in a crazy mood. “Well, if that isn’t an invitation, I don’t know what is! C’mon girls, time for a ‘workplace inspection’!”

It wasn’t an invitation, but Danny was too courteous to refuse them. They stumbled through the lobby and up the stairs, giggling and shushing each other.

The hotel was about a hundred years old and graced with high ceilings. A large veranda around the outside would have given shade to men and horses below and a kind of shared deck above for the residential guests. The staircase had coloured glass windows and elegant plaster mouldings. Everything was slightly shabby and run-down now: the only guests were travelling workmen and the occasional backpacker. Motels and serviced apartments had stolen the better-paying customers. Danny unlocked his room and stepped back to let the ‘inspectors’ in.

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