Rated R for language, sex.
Black Swan, White Swan
by Eugie Foster
Concentric circles lap beneath the dock’s wooden planks. A swan floats out, its shining plumage driving the water’s void back.
“There’s a man across the way.” The swan fixes Delia with polished onyx eyes. “Sometimes he’s a lighthouse and sometimes he’s a train, but silence doesn’t scare him.”
Delia stares at the luminous bird. “I don’t want a lighthouse or a train,” she says.
“Sometimes he’s a shelter in the rain.”
Delia studies the ripples that pass through the water’s surface in the swan’s wake.
“Don’t shut the door, it puts walls around you.” The swan dips its beak. “Call me the ocean, and I’ll change with the moon. You look right through me, but I can see the end of the storm.”
“Across the way there’s a man who holds questions without asking. A little peace of heart to guard with a stone wall,” the swan says. “Or a piece of heart guarded by stone walls. Let me in, and we can sing for nights.”
The swan warbles, a musical wow-wo-ou. The wild cry startles Delia, and she takes a step back. Her foot catches on a knot jutting from the weathered planks; she unbalances, arms pinwheeling. As she tips into the icy lake, the swan takes wing, arrowing into the sky with a sweep of white feathers.
Black arms fold her to a black breast; the cold locks her lungs shut as water weights her limbs. Delia fights the embrace, even as she acknowledges her relief.
About the Author
Eugie Foster (December 30, 1971 – September 27, 2014) was an American short story writer, columnist, and editor.
Her stories have been published in a number of magazines and book anthologies, including Fantasy Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Interzone. Her collection of short stories, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, was published in 2009.
After receiving her master’s degree in psychology, she retired from academia to pen flights of fancy. She also edited legislation for the Georgia General Assembly, which from time to time she suspected were another venture into flights of fancy. She was also a director for Dragon*Con and edited their onsite newsletter, the Daily Dragon.
Eugie received the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette for “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” which you can listen to on Escape Pod. She’s also been a finalist for the Hugo, Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press, and British Science Fiction Association awards.
Foster died at Emory University Hospital on September 27, 2014 from respiratory failure, a complication of treatments for Large B-Cell Lymphoma. The day Foster died, Daily Science Fiction published her last short story, nominated for the Nebula award, “When it Ends, He Catches Her.” This story ran on PseudoPod.
About the Narrator
Abra Staffin-Wiebe loves optimistic science fiction, cheerful horror, and dark fantasy. Dozens of her short stories have appeared at publications including Tor.com, F&SF, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, where she wrangles her children, pets, and the mad scientist she keeps in the attic. When not writing or wrangling, she collects folk tales and photographs whatever stands still long enough to allow it. Her most recent book, The Unkindness of Ravens, is an epic fantasy coming-of-age story about trickster gods and unlikely heirs. Enjoy an excerpt at: http://www.aswiebe.com/moreunkindness.html