Do these children know the danger they're in?

When last we left headed-for-trouble Lorna, she was facing her acsent up the dreaded monkey bars…

I had just watched as the others, one-by-one, nimbly climbed  to the top of the bars and, like future Olympic gymnasts, flipped into position  and just hung by their knees. They could have bided their time doing “Cat’s  Cradle” if they’d had the forethought to bring some string up there with them.  Each girl’s time was a few seconds longer than the next. Then each  undernourished contestant easily flipped back upright and scaled down to safety.  Their faces were red from being upside-down, but they didn’t look flushed—they glowed.  None looked like they were even breathing hard—at least their bony rib cages  barely moved up and down underneath their loose cloths.

I was audibly panting and looking rosy, and that was just in  anticipation of my turn. How would I squeeze myself through the bars and wedge  myself upside down in the middle that sinister-looking contraption? Why couldn’t this be a slide competition?

Pulling my tight tee-shirt over my shorts in a futile  attempt to cover my belly and marshal some dignity, I began my ascent. All I  could think of was these three skinny girls watching my chubby rump and  stuck-together thighs lumbering up the very same bars they floated over. They
were greyhounds; I was a Basset Hound.

“I can do this. I can do this.” I whispered to myself,  wasting precious breath. I began to breathe conspicuously. Witnesses might have  said I was hyperventilating.

Then my hands began to sweat. I sensed trouble. Pausing at  the top, I looked way down at three small upturned faces. “Well?  What’s the  matter?” Skinny Sally had her hands on what should have been her hips.

“I don’t think this is such a good idea,” I ventured.

Skinny Official Time Keeper heaved a sigh I could feel all  the way up to the top of the bars. “Listen. This is a contest and you’re the  last to go. You have to do it like everyone else did.”  She would’ve made a very good Game Show Host  or Military Drill Sergeant.

“Okay, okay,” I said, against my better judgment. I balance  my white sneaker-clad feet on one of the bars, rested my belly on another for
balance, and wiped my hands on the back of my shirt to dry them off. Then I  assessed the largest point of entry to the ominously high apparatus. It was  then that I noticed the Monkey Bars of St. Morris Catholic School were anchored  in cement. Cement? I always thought the nuns just pretended not to like us.  Anchoring playground equipment in cement proved to me they weren’t bluffing.

“Come on, Lorna, we don’t have all day,” Skinny Michelle  said, who actually did have all day.

I took a deep, shaky breath then blew it all out so I could  squeeze between the two horizontal bars that formed an “X” on the summit of the
monkey bars. I hung on to one horizontal bar with my hands until I could shove  my chubby legs in place over the other bar that crossed over the one I was  hanging onto. Then I let go of my hand grip. I was in the middle of the monkey  bars hanging upside down by my knees. Pride rushed into me as quickly as the  blood went rushing into my head. I did it.

“Start the clock!” I yelled with conviction born of upside-down  self-satisfaction. Who cared about the cement below my head?  I was in this competition and I could win it.

Before long I felt sweat pooling behind my knees. Didn’t the  skinny girls sweat?  I was pondering this  weighty question when my knee-grip on the bars, my winning place in the  competition, and, conceivably, my life slipped away from me.

Talk about a cliff-hanger! Part 3 is on the way…