Author: Matt Heselden
Once upon a time there was a little boy with blonde hair who wanted to be a train driver when he grew up. When He discovered the love and the joy of reading he decided to be an author not a train driver. That little boy didn’t become an author but he continued to write from time to time. Usually, his writing went in the bin. Sometimes he would put it in a box and leave it to gather dust.
Sharon and Finlay Smith sat in the living room of their cramped Victorian terraced house. An old, large leather sofa dominated the room. A collection of faded photographs hung on one wall, the frames covered by years of dust. One photo in particular – Sharon’s favourite – showed her dancing as lead ballerina in Swan Lake. It was a reminder of a life that could have been but never was.
On the opposite wall a computer and large monitor sat on a cheap plywood desk . The screen glowed and the computer hummed like an electronic idol ready for worship. Finlay sat at the desk, slouching over the key board, his face almost touching the glowing monitor screen.
Cigarette smoke hung in the air blue and thick.
Sharon sat on the sofa, watching a wildlife documentary on television. “I can’t believe that about swans.”
“What’s that?” Finlay asked.
“Swans Fin. The documentary on the tele?” She stubbed out a cigarette and immediately lit another.
“What about them?”
“They mate for life. They’re monogamous and never leave each other. Until death do ‘em part.”
The computer monitor lit up briefly as Finlay battled a computer generated wizard. “Yep, I guess they have it pretty much perfect.”
“Lucky them,” Sharon said under her breath.
Finlay picked up the keyboard and slammed it on the desk. “Shit it all! Fuck it to high heaven!”
Sharon didn’t respond. She continued to watch the television like she hadn’t even noticed. Whenever her husband failed to beat the aliens or the dragon or whatever stupid game thing it was that week, he reacted as if it were real. She could never understand that.
On the television, two swans started to mate.
“Do you think they’re together all the time, Fin? Or do you think they like to have time apart? Perhaps they need ‘me time’”
“The swans? Dunno.”
“Probably not,” said Sharon.
“I need to kill Lord Obscuro to complete this level; fucker.”
“If they mate for life they must be pretty sure about each other. Soul mates probably.”
“What’s all this talk of swans for?”
“It’s on TV.” Sharon waved her hand at the screen, causing ash to fall from the cigarette.
“Swans might mate for life but humans have more intelligence. We don’t need shackles. We’ve got other needs. Other wants. It’s just the way it is.”
“Like computer games, Fin?”
Unusually, Finlay took time to consider his answer. “Yeah, we all need a bit of space, a bit of time now and again. You know; a change.”
Sharon tried to swallow but her throat was dry. “So if one swan wants out, what does it do? What if there’s a better gig elsewhere? It might leave then.”
“Maybe you right.”
Sharon fixed her eyes on the television screen. “They say if one dies, the other dies of heart-break soon after. You know that?”
Finlay sighed heavily. “Yeah, that’s what they say.”