PodCastle 184: Black Swan, White Swan

by Eugie Foster
Read by Abra Staffin-Wiebe.
Originally Appeared in End of an Aeon.

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.”

“Stop it.”

“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.”

“Go away.”

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.

Rated R for language, sex.