the short story project


sarah coates

The Dying Swan

   How can a world that is so vibrant, suffocate you in darkness? darkness ebbs in-and-out of everyone’s life, like a wave crashing against the sand-laden surface of the shore. At one moment the darkness seems so faint that one bairly notices its faint breeze; then in a matter of seconds it forcefully swallows you in bleak disaray. Barely alive you catch your breath and swim to the dry land, but your lungs are filled with the poisonous liquid of the ocean. Again and again I find myself drowning in the sea that I call me life, only able to catch a short breath before I am once more swallowed in to the belly of the fish.
    Around me I hear the sound of shuffling feet, while dancers prepare to take launch onto the marlly covered stage of the grand theater. White tutus and feathers adorn the backstage quarters and the sound of Tchaikovsky sends vibrations through the red curtains on both sides of the stage. As the dancers finish their act and the crowd applauses at the elegance and grace of the swans, I get ready to set foot and bring the performance to an end. Standing in the wings of the theater I watch a flurry of white feathers float through the air as my fellow company members exist the stage. The moment as come; the crowds ceases their applause; the stage darkens; and the air is filled with anticipation. I take a deep breath and let the oxygen fuel my body, then I float onto the stage. The lights focus on me, the eyes of the crowd widen at my presence, and the orchestra plays at my command. Slowly I begin to bourrée across the stage to the slow methodical melody, while my arms gracefully fly through the energy filled air. Fastened upon my waist is a white tulle saucer that listlessly orbits across the stage, while feathers lay strung against the sides of my head. I am dancing the dying swan, a coveted role that was once performed by the timeless Ann Pavlova. As the act comes to an end I take my final stance with my torso and arms extended gracefully across my out stretched leg while my hips rest upon my sitting leg: symbolizing the death of the swan. 

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