The sea is at low tide, the muddy sands covered in worm casts. You’re walking along by yourself and you see three figures far on the horizon by the distant water’s edge. You try to catch up, but you can’t. You wonder why you’re having trouble walking; you look down and realise why. You’re a swan.
You’re in the wrong place; you shouldn’t be at the beach. You take off, tucking your legs under you. You fly across the wide sands, but still the water stays out of reach and the figures stay the same distance away.
You feel empty.
As you fly towards the figures, you see that they are holidaymakers: two men and a woman. They’re not what you expected. They present a happy façade but you see that it is shallow, like the distance tide. You’re disappointed.
You sail on by, gliding with your wings stretched wide. The water that you thought was a sea is a pond. A dozen swans swim across the dark surface, between lilies. They are not swans like you. They are white like you, but they content themselves eating algae and preening their feathers. Nothing is like you.
You fly on.
You swoop lower. There is another pond. The water is dark like before, but the swans are fewer. Half a dozen skirt the muddy banks and a few take off like you, but not in the same direction.
It’s not the right place.
There are four swans in the next pond. You fly close to the water’s edge this time. The pool is stagnant. Algae grows on the waveless surface. It’s not what you’re looking for.
You turn upwards.
You skim the cool surface of a new pond, your feet creating waves. There are only two swans this time; it’s more your home. The end is coming.
But not yet.
You see a small pond surrounded by trees and dip down into it, settling your wings by your side, legs tucked under. There are no other swans here. You are floating by yourself among lilies. You have achieved your goal. The emptiness of the pool is filled by the happiness in your heart.
All is well.
The pond drains away. The lilies rot into a soggy mass. Worms feed on the remains and muddy sands form. You are back on the beach where you first started. The figures are on the horizon. The water is out of reach.