Hope you enjoy it!
By MARIE TREANOR
Available now at Changeling Press
When you find yourself confiding in a swan, you know you’re in trouble. When the swan talks back, madness clearly beckons. Throw in a fool of a fiancé about to be dumped, a Russian gangster, and a lustful ballet dancer with tights to die for, and the night becomes strangely magical…
“Want to do lunch?” I asked the swan. Since he didn’t say no, I tore a bit of bread off and dropped it in the water beside him. He dipped his head again, as if in thanks, which made me smile. He was a splendid creature, graceful and noble like most swans, but in my present mood of self-pity, he also seemed to have incredibly kind and intelligent eyes.
“I suppose you don’t feel the cold,” I said wistfully, huddling inside my borrowed fur-lined leathers. “My suitcase is full of swim wear and strappy sun-dresses. Not entirely suitable for winter picnics in Russia.”
While he snapped up the bread, I bit into my share of the sandwich. The bread was a bit odd -- good cheese though.
“Come to that,” I added, swallowing, “I don’t think you’re meant to be here either. Don’t you guys usually go to my country for the winter? Or are you just back?”
He fluttered up his feathers a bit, almost like a human shrug. For some reason, it seemed a gesture of great sadness to me. I knew an urge to wrap my arms around his graceful neck, although since I thought he’d probably savage me for the presumption, I managed to keep my distance.
“So what’s the deal with your people, then?” I asked, tearing off some more sandwich. “As I understand it, Jason’s company rebuilt this pre-revolutionary mansion where we are now, apparently guests of Mr. Yepanchin. Who is this Yepanchin? Just nouveau riche? Or gangster? Because I have to tell you, my money’s on the latter. Worse, I have even more money on the notion that Jason doesn’t care. He’s climbing into this shit up to ears.”
I sighed again. “Yes, you’re right, of course. He’s an arse.”
“Then why are you marrying him?”
I choked, sending lumps of semi-masticated bread and cheese spattering across the water. Through my watering eyes, I stared at the swan. Then, as common sense returned, I twisted my head to look around me. There was no one in sight. We were at least fifty yards away from the nearest tree, a hundred from the house, There was nowhere for anyone to hide.
Slowly, I turned back to face the swan. It had finally happened. I was officially insane.
What other versions of this story have you come across