• A.D. Stephenson

The Swallows Danced - 500 Words Story Two

Updated: Jul 3

It was hot, but not in here. The azure sky was naked and alluring, cradling a gem whose warmth enticed those it touched. But did not penetrate the dark glass of the Urban Hive. Inside, worker after worker sat, drones to the cause.

Karl looked left and right to check if anyone was watching him, but of course they were not. Why would they? He leaned back in his chair, his head protruding past the cell wall that encapsulated him. He stole a glimpse through the window of his air-conditioned office. Another scan. No one flinched.

He looked down at the street below. The shadow from The Hive had swallowed the pavement beneath, the sun thwarted by the man-made monstrosity. Outside The Hive, swallows danced and skimmed, their grace breaking the beautiful monotony of the sky. Close by he could see trees standing sentry in the park, holding back the grey and the concrete from the gentle knoll that rose up into the distance to look down on the tarmac and brick and steel and glass.


Karl shot back in, lest someone should notice him away from his seat. He snatched at his phone desperately gripping it tightly as he held it under his desk. Across the cell wall someone coughed. Karl sat, unmoving, waiting. When no one came, he carefully pulled his phone out. His eyes dropped to his lap, greedily reading the message he received.

Clearing stuff from Mum and Dad’s. Check out this photo.

His sister, sending him memories and nostalgia. He opened the first image and saw himself, no more than eight, standing underneath the same everlasting blue that painted the sky today. The photo was old and faded, but the colours were still vibrant in his mind. His long white socks, pulled to mid-shin, his green shorts only reaching mid-thigh, the red and white striped t-shirt hanging off his skinny body. His hair blond, whitened by the sun and always being brushed out of his eyes. And his beaming grin revealing perfect white teeth and freedom.

That was the day he had cycled to the ford with Josie, the day spent splashing around in the cool water. The two of them giggled as the weeds flowed between their toes.

He looked down at himself and saw the grey suit, the black tie, the dull white shirt, all covering a bulging middle from too much torpor. Too much sitting. Too much nothing. When had it all changed? The boy in the photo had everything to look forward to. The man had… everything behind him.

Karl’s chair rolled back into the alley between cells, abandoned as he stood and began to walk. No one watched as he left. He was invisible as he made his way out of The Hive. He stepped into the world outside and gazed longingly at blue above. As he strode to the park, he felt the wind in his grey hair and freedom in his bones.

Above him, the swallows danced.

* * *

Well there you go, my second 500 Words Story. I went into this one with a vague idea of what I wanted to do, but no real plan of how to get there. It definitely took a bit longer than the last one, which doesn't bode well for future efforts, but I'm pleased with it. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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