Ava Grzechnik 2018/19

The Swan

The man walked drunkenly down the dark street. The only light at this hour being the lampposts that he would soon bump into.

“Watch where yer goin’ yer bloomin’ idiot!” he yelled, his voice slurred. He was lucky that no one was awake, as they’d likely call the cops on him. In his current state, it was a miracle that he managed to remember his way home. He stumbled through the open door into the pitch-black apartment and fumbled to turn on the light. He soon gave up and waded through the dark, barking out a curse when his foot collided with something hard. He made his way to the bedroom and collapsed on the neat single bed, falling asleep instantly.

~~~~~~~

The next morning, he woke to the sun beating down on his face through the now-open window. He groaned and shifted his head to sleep some more, but the action made his head throb. He gently lifted himself out of bed, grimacing at the discomfort of moving. He made his way to the bathroom and turned on the shower, holding his head in an attempt to ease the pain now hammering at his skull. After the shower, he was glad to have a clearer head as he walked into the kitchen and found his wife in the kitchen cooking breakfast.

He sat down at the table and read the sports section and comics in the newspaper while he waited. His wife slid him a plate piled high with eggs, bacon, toast and tomatoes. “Good morning Ernie, dear,” she said softly, careful not to overwhelm his sensitive hearing, as he pulled the plate closer towards himself. He grunted in response and dug in heartily. She turned the tap of the sink to fill the basin with fresh water and frowned when no water came out. Twisting it further, a sudden stream burst from the tap, splashing her apron. She gave a yelp of surprise that sounded like a trumpet in Ernie’s ears.

“Shuddap!” he snapped, rubbing his temples. “Yer givin’ me a ‘eadache.” He took a gulp of water from his cup and went straight to the couch. He switched on the TV and found that the news was on. He yawned but didn’t change channels.

“You should go to work soon,” his wife reminded him. He ignored her. His current mindset told him not to bother. He’d go out shooting instead, and maybe make a bit of coin at the market. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his wife’s slim build moving as she left the house. He continued to ignore her and kept his eyes trained on the screen. He finally grew bored with the presenter babbling mindlessly about some ‘hot topics’, or something similar. He switched the channel to a sports station. A grin crept up his face as his favourite team came into view.

“C’mon,” he muttered, talking to the players on the screen “Get ‘im. That’s it! Yes! Go on!” he was nearly yelling now, “SCORE!” he hollered, leaping up and dancing around the room despite his head’s protesting screams. “THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT!!” He sat back down and finished the game, yelling and groaning at certain parts.

He glanced outside and saw that now was the perfect time to go out and shoot something. He got his rifle and a pack of bullets. He stuck the rifle down his trouser leg and shoved the bullets into his pocket. He scratched his stubbled chin as he grabbed a bag and walked out the door.

He walked to his favourite park and shot three rabbits in a matter of minutes. He reloaded as he took in his surroundings; he saw a little girl with pigtails running away from her father and some swans in a nearby lake (he quickly looked away – swans made him very uncomfortable nowadays). He suddenly noticed ten ducks flying overhead in a ‘v’ formation. He shot down three before they flew out of range. He grabbed the game off the ground and shoved them into the bag with the rabbits. When he looked up, he saw the girl with pigtails staring at him.

“You can’t hunt here,” she said, “It’s illegal.”

“And ‘oo are ‘oo to be tellin’ me that?” he demanded.

“My name is Lisa, and my daddy owns this land. He can get you arrested,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Lisa!” called out her father. “Where are you?”

“I’m over here,” she called over her shoulder. He came running over to where they were standing. When he saw Ernie, he froze. A chill ran down his spine, as they stared at each other.

“Well, I’ll be blown,” he said after a moment. “Ernie Brown.” Ernie took in his face, then glanced at his daughter. They both bore the same blue eyes and dark hair, and that little gleam in their eye that he couldn’t quite understand. He wondered how he hadn’t recognised the girl earlier.

“Peter Watson?” he muttered. Peter glanced at his gun, then at the bag that Ernie was still holding. His face turned furious.

“You weren’t hunting were you?” he asked with a hint of venom. Ernie was about to reply, but Peter’s voice made him hesitate. “Get off my land!” he said in a tone that made Ernie feel small, despite being at least three inches taller than him.

Ernie did as he was told, heading home. As he did so, he pondered something that had bothered him after that interaction with Peter Watson. How did he get so scary?