Monday, September 24, 2012

Swanmaiden's Blues Part 4

Note: this was an attempt at writing a modern fantasy short story I made several attempts at in 2010 and 2011. It took forever, I revised every sentence three or four times. I gave up in resignation. It's overwritten and cheaply melodramatic.

But looking back at it now, it's not all-together terrible, so I'm going to post it as is as a spur to myself in the run-up to National Novel Writing Month. Any constructive criticism gratefully accepted.

Thanks for reading. :-)


The Swan plays vulture as she creeps around the ground floor, hands wrapped around a knife and a flashlight. Coyly, the sweep of the torch picks out familiar objects, trappings of power from another time: a richly ornamented samovar; a Muscovites and Mongols chess set.He'd not outgrown his boyar's trappings entirely, it seemed.

He had taught her to play with those pieces, placing the board near the bars. A little kill-or-be-killed simulacrum of civilisation. In expansive moods, he even promised her freedom, if she won. 

The Swan took a shuddering breath and steps away from the cabinet. She compels herself to walk through the house to where the feelings of longing and dread were strongest. and found herself before the cellar stairs.

Here, the Swan hesitates. 

Long ago ascending another staircase, limping her way upwards from the menagerie. A lonely white mnemosyne with a red blossom at her hip. Rags pressed to her side for the scarlet thread otherwise left behind. 
Why go back? Because that time we left half of ourselves behind.

She descends in a sudden dash like a woman going back into a burning building.

Haphazardly, the flashlight illumes sections in sequence – the alchemist's laboratory, the books of long ages past, a liberality of antiquian junk.

And in one corner, a tattered, part-plucked web of feathers and cloth.

The Swan opens her mouth soundlessly. She outstretches her arm several times but then returns it to her side.

Years, so many years, of focus and restraint unspooling in seconds.

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