Squeaky Mystery in the Night

In this memory, I am five years old. In the playground in front of my apartment block, there is a basket swing which my two best friends and I play on all the time. Two of us move the swing fast while the last person sits inside the swing, trying to maintain her balance. This is how we always play on the basket swing.

The metal swing is old, and its joints squeak as the basket swings between the supporting poles. The squeaky noise is part of the fun, too, because it enhances the thrill as we swing it faster and faster and the noise becomes louder and louder.

The noise is so loud that it is audible from anywhere inside our small community of tiny half-dilapidated apartments, especially from my home since it is located right in front of the playground. Whenever I hear the squeak, I know that somebody is playing on the swing. And because the basket swing is popular among us children, it almost never stops squeaking during the day.

Sometimes, though, I hear the sound in the night, long after everybody went home.

“Who could be riding the basket swing so late?” I wonder to myself. I don’t think any of my friends are playing outside at this time. I saw them all go home hours ago. It also cannot be any of our parents. I have never seen them playing on the swing. It is not an adult thing.

Then, who?

That is when I think of the only possibility. It must be a ghost.

Sometimes, my mother warns me about strangers with bad intentions, even though our community is an extremely safe one and children are allowed to play anywhere on their own. But the warning of strangers that I have never met scares me nonetheless. And in my mind, they become identical with a ghost, something that I am always afraid of encountering in the night.

When the day arrives and I play with my friends, I casually mention the mysterious squeaking sound I have heard from the playground the night before.

“You know what?” One of my friends whispers to me. “I’ve heard that, too!”

Relieved to know somebody else also heard it, I ask my urgent question. “Do you think it was a ghost?”

“I don’t know,” my friend replies. “But it’s strange, right? Maybe it is!”

My friend’s confirmation is helpful. From that day on, whenever I hear the mysterious squeaking noise from the playground in the night, I wonder what kind of ghost is riding my favourite basket swing.