Laughter drifts through the black air, bounces along the undulating pvc ripples of the pond and out through the smudgy outline of trees that I cannot see but I think are there. I think.
the thin rubber soles of my shoes grind on the paving slabs as I shift my weight from one hip to the other. I am talking to someone. I think.
People start to delineate themselves in the dark. They seem familiar though I can't be sure. Blacker on blackest, my eyes strain to see something in the dark. Orange pinpricks glow and swim around in orbits punctuating the trajectory of some person's conversation, a face is briefly thrust into a pool of light as they take a drag. A girl's laugh rings out floating high above our heads as the anecdote hits home and falls spent from the person's mouth. The dying embers ground out below an invisible heel.
I am talking to someone, I hear words falling out of the space where I know my lips to be, some distance below my eyes, where I am. I cannot make out what I am saying or what is being said to me, it must not matter. I think.
I am content in this place, there is a satisfyingly warm breeze folding, playfully uncombing the hairs on my arm. I must not be wearing long sleeves, it must be summer. Though I imagine those trees to still be bare-ish. Perhaps it is spring.
As I hear my voice buzzing away below me I wonder briefly if it is my boyfriend I am talking to. It might be, I can't see his face, though it looks like him, that blackness does look and feel like a boyfriend. Or maybe it is my ex boyfriend, or neither, or a mixture of the two. I find myself drifting, thinking of the king cups and reeds that swell out of the water at the pond's edges. I imagine the cats and foxes creeping around through those trees staring down at us with curious eyes, what are you doing there by our pond they might ask? I imagine that behind them, to their backs shines a moon, obscured by cloud but sheer enough to cover their coats in a silvery sheen...
A loud crack cuts through the dark like a dagger.
The air is tense, the vibrations of the sound hang in the air at a nauseating pitch.
Bent feathers scrape on concrete, silk white quills torn and ragged, an unearthly, uncontrolled flapping and an asphyxiating sense of doom.
All around me I feel feet running, and panic. I feel the dark swimming before me, the ground pulled out from underneath my soles, the hard slap of the paving slabs on my shoes. I too seem to be running, I think. Towards the sound.
And there it lies, head trailing just below the surface of the gleaming water, huge white wings thrashing around at the water's edge, body slumped heavy on the side. A terrible, monstrous, half dead- half alive thing. Someone has shot a swan.
"Please! Someone has to kill it! We have to wring its neck!"
my voice rings clear, in desperation. I am kneeling by the swan, hands and thighs deep in feathers, turning frantically to look at my companions behind me, begging them to intervene. There seems to be a spotlight shining from above, I squint back at the people through my downy fingers, not able to make out any of their features.
"Please!" I scream again, my voice hoarse, the light blinding my eyes, casting sharp black shadows all around me and the swan.
It has to be me. No-one else is going to do it, I think.
I gently take a length of the swan's graceful neck in my shaking hands, it's feebly gasping beak still submerged in the now green lit water. I feel the warmth of its blood and pulse, the softness of its short neck-feathers in my fingers, the strange bird-skin and muscle of its body, and tug.
This is what I dreamed a few nights ago, unbelievably vivid, like a sub-standard david lynch sequence, or a pretentious vogue photo shoot. The symbolism seems almost too strong to take seriously, though I've tried to stay away from analysing it. I think I know the pond in question, I think it's a pond in a park I went to quite a lot as a child, in the grounds of a beautifully manicured house and pergola in London. I seem to always dream photographically like this, but for some reason this one has stuck with me, there is something about that swan that haunts me, that I'm slightly scared of and that just won't let go.