This short story is selected as Story of the Month November’2012 and won INR 1000 (US $20)
Editor’s Choice: MARY HAD SWANS – Children Short Story
MARY HAD SWANS-
…instead of a little lamb. 🙂
Usually orphanages are ugly and dirty buildings. They were assigned to such a function simply because no investor was interested in buying such kind of a real estate from the city. This orphanage was, however, different in that matter. Pretty old mansion with a garden and a pond, located in suburbs was taken over by the government from an old, childless guy for his tax arrears. The former owner was moved to a nursing house and soon died. Town budget was pretty well at that time so the council decided not to sell the property, and it was converted to an orphanage.
Nice place, however, didn’t mean nice workers. Orphanage attendants were not bad women, but they didn’t give much warmth to children. They just did their duties, and so the orphanage was an emotionless institution, not a home at all.
A six years old Mary Swans had been in the orphanage for three years now. She couldn’t have remember her parents, as she was too young when they died. However, in her subconsciousness she still had some remains of sense of security from her early years. She joined it with photographs, those several she had. As a small girl she escaped from the cold world of the orphanage which fulfilled only her biological needs into her imagination, where she could meet her parents.
All days she was roaming in the garden, and sometimes she was sitting by the pond. One day a pair of swans swam near her. For a six years old child the name of a birds species and her last name could not be an accidental coincidence. She welcomed her parents with a great joy. The rest of that day passed in a nice and warm atmosphere.
“Mary! Please eat another sandwich” said the attendant
“No ma’am! This is for my parents. In a moment I am going to them, and we will have a breakfast together.”
“Poor child! Your parents are dead. You must stop dreaming all the time. You have your whole life to live. Get yourself together!”
“Ma’am, I will take this sandwich with me.”
“Do as you wish, but we cannot give you another sandwich. According to regulations two sandwiches are assigned for a breakfast to a girl under ten.”
“That’s all right, ma’am.”
After the breakfast Mary came to the pond. The swans had already been there, waiting.
“Morning, ma! Morning pa!”
The swans nodded their heads. Mary tore the sandwich to pieces and threw them.
The ate all the pieces. Daddy, the bigger swan, was a gentleman and left the best peces to his wife. Mary noticed this and smiled.
“I am so glad that you found me at last! I’ve been really missing you!”
Both parents nodded their heads, and Mary saw them smiling. She took a picture from her pocket, and showed it to her parents. They came nearer to see all the details.
“Daddy! You used to dance with me when I was a small kid, just like on this photo. You took me on your hands, and we were dancing in our home.”
“Now I am a big girl. In fact, I am even bigger than you. Do you think we can dance again?”
In response father sinusoidally swam off the shore, made a circle and returned with amazing grace.
“Wonderful!” shouted Mary.
She spent two more hours with her parents, then got back to the mansion. Painting classes had already begun.
“Mary! Why are you late? Quickly get a sheet of paper and take your seat. Today’s topic is birds. On the wall you can see posters of a seagull, a hawk, a pigeon, a canary, a nightingale, and a swallow. The other children have already started, so better hurry. Choose one of the birds and paint it!”
In an hour the classes were over. Obviously Mary painted her parents. Two swans were touching their beaks together, forming a heart.
“Too bad Mary! You didn’t do the exercise correctly. Now all other children will go to play, and you will paint the correct bird.”
Mary was down, but she did as she was told. Fortunately after another hour and a dinner she could visit the pond again.
“Yesterday we were in a church, mom! The advent began, so in several weeks will be Christmas. Every year Santa Claus visits us, and brings presents. Santa has a red cap, red coat, and always wears ma’am’s shoes. I like his visits, but they are so short.”
She spent another nice day with her beloved.
Days were passing. Mary was happy, but still withdrawn. She often smiled, didn’t say much about her relation with the birds. A day has come when attendants found her visits at the pond inappropriate..
“Mary! You have to stop going at the pond. You can fell into water and drown.”
“But ma’am, no worries! I never walk into water.”
“We cannot take a risk. Only you from all the children visit the pond. We would have to assign some of us to watch at you, and we don’t have so much employees. One day you can change your mind and walk into the pond, or you can fall in water accidentally. If something happens to you, we will be in a great trouble.”
“But ma’am, these swans are my parents…”
“Stop dreaming, silly child! I’m sorry, but your parents are dead! We’ve been your family for all these years. You are grounded and cannot walk outside from now on!”
Mary said nothing, just sobbed quietly.
All days she spent at the window, looking at her parents. They were also missing her. Once daddy was flying towards Mary’s window, but a parapet was too narrow for him to land. He had to go fly back especially that boys on the yard were throwing stones at him. Mary was terrified, looking at this. She had tears in her eyes.
Another day mommy and daddy authentically sat on two swings on the playground,
“They are inviting me to play! It’s a pity that I cannot go outside.” thought Mary.
Despite this obstacle, the visit made her happy. She was looking at her parents and smiling. Unfortunately after half an hour a janitor dispersed the swans.
Several days later daddy and mommy performed a beautiful dance in the sky. It was in the morning, and they were significantly waiting for their daughter to appear in the window, so that they could start the show. It was outstanding, but more awesome was the big love filling the girl, and giving her the real joy of life. At last, after all these years Mary was really happy.
However, her happiness wasn’t lasting for a long time. Few days after the swans’ show a great drama happened. Mary’s parents were gone. They left without good-bye. Or maybe the dance was a kind of one?
Mary couldn’t stand it. She burst with tears and ran to the attendant.
“What happened Mary?”
“Ma’am! Daddy and mommy are gone! They have left me again!”
“Daddy and mommy? Aaah! You mean the swans!? Poor, silly child! I’m telling you once more that I’m sorry, but your parents died in a car accident three years ago. Besides, it’s almost winter already so all the birds are leaving…”