October 30, 2012

The Swan and the Lake (For Halloween)



Carlton took one final glance at the fog-covered lake, screening his chest against the wind with one hand and tossing his partly-smoked Winston into the water with the other. The lake was dead. Not a fish, snake, or bird took refuge in it for as long as anyone could remember. Scientists had come, trying to discover the mystery of the barren lake, but they all left more bewildered than when they had arrived. They shook their heads and filed their reports away in vaults that would never be opened.

The old-timers of the nearby town knew the answer, and if the scientists had bothered to ask they would have fixed one steely eye on the querent and whispered, “It’s haunted.”

“Most likely by the ghosts of loose women,” Carlton said, a rare smile snaking it’s away across his gaunt face. “Penelope should feel right at home.”

Carlton shivered as he remembered her lithe dancer’s body turning shades of alabaster, fuchsia, and silvery-blue as she went limp in his bare hands; hands his father said were too delicate to ever do a real man’s work. Happy now, daddy?

 The wind picked up and Carlton cast an almost sympathetic glance towards the lake. “Good bye, Darling.” His lip began to tremble. He hadn’t always hated her. Love had turned to odiousness only yesterday, when he had returned from a trip to his father’s house a day early and had seen…

He shook his head, fingering the flask in his pocket that would soon erase the memory.

As he turned to go he was startled by a sound. Strange. The lake was usually as quiet as it was empty. He cocked an ear to listen. A wailing, high and sweet,whipping across the waters, ending in a crescendo. Most likely the wind, thought Carlton, though he had never heard a wind like that.

Suddenly, there was movement in the fog. With unbelieving eyes Carlton watched a small, white form emerge from the middle of the lake. It slithered, winding its way towards him, yet causing no ripples, until it rested at his feet.


“Is that a…?”Carlton blinked and looked again. Sure enough, perched at his feet was a beautiful white swan.

Where had it come from? He scanned the area, looking for a clue to its origin. The wind had subsided but Carlton felt cold down into his bones.

The swan stood, shaking water from its feet and Carlton heard the jingling of a collar around its neck. It was a pet. Of course! He laughed at his paranoia. What would his father say if he had seen him spook so easily? Carlton wiped the sweat from his brow and stooped
to give the bird a pat.

The wailing returned. He recognized it now: not a wailing but a song - a song from the ballet. It was the last thing he ever heard. Both his hand and his heart stopped cold as he read the lone word etched into the swan’s collar:

Penelope 

 

**
My submission for the Blogflash Halloween Event.






10 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, full of imagery, intrigue and gorgeous storytelling...I love the way it all folds together with a masterful crescendo. The lake and the swan and the ballet...wonderful!

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  2. Lovely and deadly all rolled into one. Good job.

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  3. Beautifully haunting!

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  4. This one will get my vote unless something else grabs me. Thanks! Good job!

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  5. Excellent writing. I find the 500 word limit is difficult to meet, but you make it look so easy.

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  6. It seems as though she got her revenge! Wonderful imagery and storytelling. I loved this piece, April. Happy Halloween and thanks for taking part!

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  7. Beautifully written. Revenge is sweet :)

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  8. Very beautifully written and eerie. Thank you for taking part!

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