Swan Egg by Kenton Yee

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Princess, a white swan, lived in our backyard until a raccoon ate her one night. My wife Carol found the remains: face itching with flies, broken neck snaking in the grass into a ripped pillow of white feathers. Carol took the biggest egg from Princess’s nest into our bed and sat on it, praying. She had raised Princess from a chick and treated her as our only child, which she was.

Twice a week, Carol tucked the egg into a down-feather pillow and drove up to Chicago. She’d dash out before breakfast and return after I was asleep. Busy at work, I did not ask questions until she started wearing orange lipstick.

“Donal taught me about hatching eggs,” she said. “Now I’m taking his flying class.”

“Donal?”

“Donal’s a retired Air Force captain. He changes light bulbs at Comiskey Park.”

I insisted on driving up to Chicago with Carol the next day. Her class met on the Willis Tower skydeck one hundred and three stories above Chicago. Carol had only one classmate, Margy, a Yoga instructor from Peoria. Donal was a white duck with orange feet.

“No relation,” Donal quipped.

Donal lined us up on the ledge facing Lake Michigan, spread his wings and flapped skyward. He circled the building and cut two pirouettes and a loop dee loop before landing back on his spot.

“Easy for you,” I cracked.

Nobody laughed.

Donal turned his beak at Margy. “You first, cutie.”

Margy spread her arms like a bat, bent her knees, now trembling, and leapt. Flapping furiously, she plummeted. I held my breath until she gained control and flapped back to our eye level. Margy circled the building and plopped back on the ledge with a thump, red-faced, hands on her knees gasping for air.

Donal turned to Carol. “Pretty does as pretty sees. Now!”

Carol patted the Baby Pouch on her breast holding the egg, flashed me her love eyes, and hopped off. She plunged straight down. I heard a scream.

“Bob your head and flap your feet in sync like a duck,” Donal hollered in a high, raspy voice.

To my relief, Carol soared back up faster than a yoyo on a string. Squealing with delight, she ascended past us like a stork making an emergency delivery.

Donal turned to me. “Now!”

“Pass.”

Donal smirked, showing white false teeth under an orange beak that mouthed one word, not any word, but that magic word with the power to start wars. “Chicken?”

I shut my eyes, sucked in air, and leapt, flapping both arms. The wind scraped against my windbreaker as I hurled straight down. I flapped faster. I straightened both arms into a glider. I kicked, afraid to open my eyes.

“Bob your head and flap your feet in sync,” Donal hollered. “Like a DUCK.”

So I bob and flap. Up and up, I go. Veni, vidi, vici, I scream, opening my eyes to see the inside of a cumulous cloud of white feathers, fragile as snowflakes, soft as cream. I spot Carol’s orange lips not far off. A furry white thing with black pinhead eyes and an orange beak peeks out from the pouch strapped to her bosom.

“Baby Princess hatched,” she says. “Go fetch some worms.”

 

BIO: A physicist by training, Kenton K. Yee adores irrealism, quantum mechanics, and orange sorbet. He has placed stories in journals such as Brain Harvest, Word Riot, and Bartleby Snopes. In October, Ken will read his flash fiction in San Francisco’s Litquake festival. His Facebook wall links to his recent work: http://www.facebook.com/scrambled.k.eggs?sk=wall