When the swing fell again, the tree died.
That wasn't how it was the first time. Then, it had been just a matter of getting a new rope and stringing it back up. They couldn't do that anymore because there was nothing to string it up on.
The first time, Bridget has seen the rope make a graceful arc from bough to ground. It had sounded like a candy bar snapping in half (not one of the gooey ones, though–a crisp bar. Like Crunch or Hersheys, not Twix.) A soft, crisp pop, then the arc. Broken from hours of carrying her up into the sky, it was a beautiful, not a sad injury.
She had shared the wound then, too. The seat disappeared from beneath her, somehow falling much faster than her own body and the rope's. Of course, she should have been holding on like her father always said to, but she liked to drape her arms lightly around the ropes. That way, it was more like flying.
That time, she really had been flying. Her body was weightless, not like a bird struggling to keep itself aloft, but really weightless like the air itself.
For a second.
She saw the broken rope falling beside her, and wondered how it felt to finally be free of the tree. They landed beside each other in the leaves which crunched beneath them. It sounded like applause.
The second time the swing fell, there was no applause, and no flying.
The saws screamed so loudly that Bridget couldn't even hear the snap of the branches. She imagined it must have sounded like a much bigger bar of candy - maybe a solid block of chocolate filled with nuts.
The branch with the swing went first because it was lowest. The swing fell silently, or at least whatever sound it made was drowned by the hysterical saw. It's branch made a soft whump against the ground, which was again brown with leaves.
Bridget couldn't help cringing, just a little, remembering the bruising fall. The swing and the branch laying beside each other reminded her of her and the rope laying beside each other, looking at each other. But she had been happy then, despite the bruises, and she couldn't imagine the rope feeling sad either. Both the swing and the branch looked sad now. They hadn't flown, just fallen. The grace was gone.
Maybe that was why the leaves didn't applaud.
She looked for one second, then another limb fell on top of the first, then another and another. Then the trunk joined the pile and the screaming finally stopped. For a while she just stared at the pile, unsure of whether she were looking at it from the outside or whether she were still trapped down there on the ground with the swing.