Silent Screams, a vignette by Chemistry student Heba Abed

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I stood at the park’s entrance, my white soles glued into place. The crimson monkey bars caught my eyes first. It stood out harshly, like a bright stop sign demanding attention. The sun rays bounced off of its structure, refusing to give it the spotlight. Random white streaks of dry bird poop littered the metal poles and bars. Red paint chipped off the corners of the four poles, revealing an ugly, orangey-brown corroded layer of rust. Little spots of dull grey peaked timidly through the curtain of rust, occasionally catching some light. The U-shaped bars frowned down at my still figure, urging me to move, to come closer, to play. 

Unknowingly, my feet took me closer to the monkey bars. The loud chirping drowned out the steady thump of my feet on the rubber flooring. No birds were in sight; however, their squeaking grew louder and louder as I approached the playground. 

Just behind the monkey bars was a carcass of what must have been a bridge. Two large, rectangular metal boards stood at opposite ends, glaring at one another. Thin, tarnished wires held each board back. Three royal blue, dirt-stricken bars stretched between the two boards on the right and left, attempting to imprison the crevasse of empty space in between. What was there to imprison anyway? Air? 

Standing dejectedly to the right was a small, blue plastic tunnel shaped like a tiger. The tiger blankly stared up at the sky. Its dull brown eyes did not blink once. The glimmering sunbeams danced around its structure, refusing to illuminate it. White paint streaked down the side of its face like tears that have long dried. Its large gaping mouth and extended tongue called out to me, luring me in and begging me to sit inside, to stay, to play… 

I circled around the tiger, the skeleton bridge, the scratched blue tunnel, the mini ladders, and the cracked yellow slides until I reached the stairs at the back. The fractured metal steps moaned as I climbed them. A large pool of dark, bloody rust spread smack in the middle of the platform. Several rivers spilled out of the pool. They fed into giant, drought-like cracks that spread right and left. I stomped my right foot firmly against the platform. 

Thump. Crack. Screech. 

The platform shrieked under my foot, injured. Tiny pieces of rubble and rust scattered around my foot. A small rust channel widened into a river. I tried to step around the cracks as quickly and lightly as possible, afraid to cause the dying metal more pain. I reached the top of a second, stronger bridge held up by blue, vertical poles. The still, humid air formed a suffocating dome above the playground, gluing thick layers of dust firmly onto the monkey bars, slides, ladders, stairs, bridges, poles, and all the different structures present. Dried, brown leaves scattered around the worn green, red, and yellow rubber flooring. 

Not a soul was in sight. No children. No parents. Just me. Even the twittering birds cowered back into the trees, not daring to set foot in the park.  

What happened to this place?