Not What They Appear

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I’m not sure what it was that woke me, to be honest. I was nappin’, peacefully, under a tree at the park. Ya know the kind. The one with teeter-totters, and merry-go-rounds, and a basketball court. It also had the swing-set that has the rusted one at the end. The one all the kids avoid, because it’s the one that squeals anytime ya use it. Oh, and you can’t forget the jungle-gyms with the plastic-tubed slides. The ones when ya go down your hair gets all staticky and sticks straight up. Then ya get off at the end, go to give your best friend a high-five, and ya shock each other. Ya know the kind that reeks of your childhood memories?

Yeah, I was there the day I noticed the change. I don’t know if it was the person passin’ by, or the shriekin’ of that damned swing. Some kid had decided he didn’t mind the noise. Nothin’ seemed any different at first. The kids were all playin’, parents were chattin’ under the covered gazebo. Birds were singin’. Even the breeze was great.

That’s when I smelled it. That intoxicatin’ sweet scent. At first, it was as if a rose came up my nose. All flowery and shit. Then it got too sweet. It wasn’t s’pose to smell so sweet. Not with the damn land-fill two miles away. Should’ve smelled at least a little bit like a shit-hole. But no. It was too sweet. Made my stomach tighten up like that 4th of July when I won that hotdog eatin’ contest. I ate forty-five of ‘em, ya know.

I must’ve been the only one at that park to smell it. No one else seemed to notice it. I ‘member looking around at everyone. Everythin’ seemed so serene. Ya know? Then I saw the wind catch some piece of paper layin’ nearby. Now, I ‘member, that wasn’t there when I went to sleep. So, I picked it up. I like pickin’ up things. Never know if ya will find somethin’ useful. Anyway, back to that paper, I opened it up, and these were the words scrawled on it:

Do not trust your eyes. They’re not what they appear to be.

                 And when I looked up, every damn child was staring at me. Their eyes were cold and dark in that split second, but I know what I saw. Then I blinked, and everything was normal. I can’t tell you what they were, but I can tell you I high-tailed it out of that there park and never looked back.

I spent years travelin’ from state to state. Every park I stopped at, that sweet smell would show up. Seemed to be followin’ me, or them. I ain’t really too sure on how it happens. I just know one-day everythin’ seems fine, and then I see ‘em. It ain’t just one at a time, it’s all of ’em.

You think I’m liein’? The next time you smell somethin’ sickeningly sweet, just look into the eyes of your child and answer me this: Are they really what they appear to be?


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