Only black swans exist here, in the lands between death, necks curved into half hearts. Symbols of love, they had said of the swan, back in the world of greens and blues instead of dismal grey. In the world of white swans. How foolish of them. How could they not see that a swan was a broken heart? That it takes two to be whole?
The black swan sits in the mirror pond; the unmoving water that would be considered calm in its stillness, if only in the world of life, is chilling and professes only death here. She watches, unblinking, still as the grey water she rests on.
The old, gnarled tree twists from the shore, reaching its grotesque arm-like branches to heaven as though pleading for mercy.
There is no mercy here.
The crow had come before, the black swan had watched. The Morrígan sat in wait, watching the girl at the base of the tree, watching the only creature that was truly living, the last summer blossom in this land of autumn and decay, but the black swan had chased her off. She was the girl's protector. The crow could not claim her for dead.
The Morrígan had cawed her laughter as she flew away. As you wish, she had crowed, but I bring nothing but the sweet release of sleep. I come when I am called. And her soul sings to me songs of sorrow and death. Look, even now; she weaves her own noose.
The black swan sees this, of course. She had been watching the girl for a long time. Time does not exist in this autumn world, nor in the eternal winter that lay in death, but even still, she knows time has long since passed since the girl held her loved one in her arms as he passed from the land of the living and that she had followed him as far as she could to the land beyond, this land between worlds. She had watched as she despaired, knowing that she could not follow him any further because the summer blossom did not belong in winter, though she could survive the autumn.
The girl won't go back to the summer lands, the world of the living. She is a stubborn blossom, weaving her own demise as though death were bliss.
The swan leaves her now, seeks to remind her of life. The girl does not belong here, but she has forgotten, the swan thinks.
So the swan flies for seven days and seven nights--for there is time in the summer lands--seeking more of the girl's world. She returns again, now with flowers, white hyacinth, and offers her little gift to the girl.
See here? These are your world. These are life, she pecks, but the girl's ears are not open, she does not understand what she wants.
It takes two to be whole, the girl reminds the swan. That's what you said at the beginning. How can the girl be whole without her love?
The swan despairs. Be whole with me! she cries, If you will not return to your world, at least do not leave me alone in this world between life and death.
But the girl won't listen, weaving the hycinth into the necklace with her sad smile. Hyacinth, she smiles to the swan, it is a good choice. Promise me you'll pray for my soul.
But your soul will not linger here, the swan pecks sadly, and I do not know what is beyond. Please stay here, with me. I am alone here. I am a broken heart.
My love is beyond, the girl reminds her, and without my love, my heart cannot be whole. Let The Morrígan come. I asked her to come and you made her leave. How can I stay if your love is a selfish one?
The girl twists the flowers into her rope and admires them. I will look pretty for him in death, swan. I thank you.
But the black swan does not answer. She has returned to her mirror pool, staring at its reflectionless surface in despair. How could she watch her summer blossom die? If she could not stop it, she would not watch it.
The Morrígan came once more and she left once more, guiding the girl's soul beyond.
Nothing was left now but the black swan and the gnarled tree.
The summer blossom had wilted.