Common Ground

From completely different worlds a parrot and a swan met by chance.
They saw differences immediately. They didn’t think they would get on.
Her parrot friends weren’t too keen on narcissistic swans, always admiring their reflections in the water. His swan friends thought parrots were loud-mouthed show-offs. But for some reason they found each other intriguing and ended up spending time together.

It was tricky. He fought against all his swan snobbery, she fought with her parrot urge to mock him and they fought with each other.
‘It’s not going to work,’ he said eventually.
‘It’s not going to work,’ she repeated.
They went their separate ways.

Days later the parrot found her fellow parrots unusually irritating and flew off to find peace by the river. Looking down she saw the swan necking with a female and knew then that she loved him. Seeing him with a new mate made her wish that she could have been a swan. But she was a parrot so she flew back to her own kind and tried to be a good parrot.
Meanwhile the swan realised that he didn’t enjoy necking with other swans and decided that he missed the parrot’s company. He really wished he could be more colourful and noisy and parrot-like. But he was a swan and couldn’t live amongst parrots.

Yet something deep within both yearned for a life-long partnership and they wandered restlessly beyond their usual boundaries, once again meeting by chance.
‘It was painful to see you with someone else,’ she said, ‘but it helped me realise that I can never be with you.’
‘It’s not that I don’t care for you,’ he said, ‘its just that we’re so incompatible.’
He talked for hours about his family and his home and she told jokes and they preened together. When they said goodbye they carefully placed one white and one red feather crossed on the ground and agreed to meet there as friends the following day.

Over time the pile of feathers grew from two into a cosy nest of yellow, blue, red and white and eventually the two birds stopped going back to their own kind. Away from their old homes their common ground became a place where their friendship could grow. They discovered that they could be close even though they continued to disagree for eighteen years.

After the swan’s death the parrot’s family came looking for her. But not wishing to spend the next forty years without her mate she had wound his limp neck tightly around herself until she could no longer breathe. And there her family found them, entwined together for all eternity.

25 thoughts on “Common Ground

    • Thank you! Lovely comments.
      (Your blog link didn’t work – it went to instead of ! oops)


  1. I really enjoyed this, Rachel. Along similar lines to to Romeo and Juliet? Maybe, but I think by making the characters non-human you clearly highlighted how difficult it can be and what obstacles are put up when someone starts and maintains a relationship with someone who is “different” to them and their family or friends. Great piece.


  2. Perfectly pitched, charming story. I’m a hoary old cynic, but this moved me in its elegant simplicity.

    Great stuff

    Marc Nash


  3. Very lovely, very sigh-making, as always I love your touch of surrealism but it always adds to the interest, never detracts.


  4. Lovely vivid fable, and this part made me laugh:
    ‘It’s not going to work,’ she repeated.
    Great flash.


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