Isabelle the Stupendous
by Kate Heartfield
Isabelle fell back and kicked forward as hard as she could, looking down the length of her body to where her Spiderman shoes pointed to the setting sun.
The swing chains wriggled like pond frogs in her hands. Her tummy lurched just like it did when the plane took off on their trip to see Grandma.
"Half an hour," her mom said from the picnic table.
Sand clouded around her feet. Three more kicks and she felt the chains go slack just for a second, as if they weren't holding her weight any more.
She could pull those chains right up to the top, if she got going fast enough. She knew she could. She had been trying since she was little, and one day she would go up, up, all the way around. It might be today.
A few more kicks and she would go higher, past that spot where the chains weren't tight anymore. She would go up and all the way around. She would have to hold on but she was good at holding on.
She held her breath and kicked with every bit of her power.
"Look at you go, sweetie!" her mother called. "Not too high, ok?"
This time the chains wiggled and groaned. They didn't know what to do.
Another kick and her bum slid out of the black rubber swing for a second, then she settled back into it. Hang on, she told herself.
Another and she was hanging on, head down, eyes shut, sick to her stomach, upside down.
When she opened them the chains were taking her weight again and she was zooming back toward the ground.
She had done it. Up and over.
"Isabelle!" her mom screamed.
She swung up to the sticking spot but not past, this time. A few more kicks. One. Two. Three and she was up again, and she looked at the parked cars on the road upside down and then she was back right-side up and she said, "mom, look at me" but her mom was standing and looking already and this time Isabelle was going fast enough that she kept going, all the way to the top and around again.
Her feet swooped higher off the ground now because the chains had wrapped a couple of times around the top bar. Could she make it one more time? She pushed her toes forward, leaned back like an astronaut and went up into the clouds, and around, the chains twisting and clicking.
Her mom was gone. The kids were gone. A man and a woman stood watching her.
She bent her knees to slow herself and the chains buckled.