Swan and Fish by Alanna Steeves (Washington County)
I am a swan.
I tell myself that because I want to believe it. Lilly White says she believes it, too, but It’s hard to say you’re beautiful when everyone around you sees in red.
Nothing down here can compare to the world of the Red Rose Casino, not the steel gray buildings that fund it, not the blue sky that existed before it. Here in this town, most live for it.
The world of the casino blinds people to everything else. The screen doors with guards that say “you can look in, but don’t touch the fuchsia curtains,” the blue of the bruises on skin of those who don’t pay, the yellow of the eyes who can’t stop themselves anymore, the black of the flies as they flutter around a body left for dead.
Lilly White says there’s nothing better than living in the glitz and glamour of the Red Rose Casino. Hers is a fast world of men, drinks, and money.
Hers is a world of lies.
People say I’m imagining things; that seeing that world makes me paranoid, but they haven’t seen what I have.
I see the blue and the flies and the eyes and the dead.
I see how the red chokes you slowly and smothers you with desire. Most that make it up to that world never come down to the real one again.
I wonder, can they really be as happy as they say?
Despite my distaste for that world, I did not ask questions. It was not my place to. It was not until Lilly White was found dead in her pretty silver party dress that I began to break.
My friend is now a dead silver fish.
If I am really a swan, then let me fly away from this place.