The next story in The Collection …I’ve started calling the new book a “collection” because someone has told me an anthology is multiple authors, not one. Who knows this stuff? Seriously, who looks at a book of short stories, puts a speculating finger to their chin and asks “Is this an anthology or a collection?”
Anyway, or as one of my kids would say “whatever”…the next story is “Swan Song” and I’m going much darker here.
I have a friend who lives up in the fen country in Cambridgeshire. If you don’t know the area, it is ancient, full of history, low lying, flat and wet, very, very wet. The land is criss-crossed by deep channels full of still water and once upon a time, before the land was drained for farming, it was alive with reed beds, wild fowl, otters and fish, mainly eels.
It was and still can be an eerie place, the mists hang over the fields hiding the deep dikes from the unwary, but it has a beauty all its own.
“Swan Song” is set here, not now, but long ago in a time that might have been.
An old woman sits huddled by the fire to ward off the cold and damp and tells stories to her grandson of the birds and the other creatures of the marsh. None of it interests him until she tells him how the great white swans are mute only until death and how, in the final moments of life, they break their silence and sing.
From that time on, the only thing on his mind is to hear the death song of a swan.