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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
An Open Letter To My Arch Nemesis
To My Arch Nemesis–
You nasty bitch. You’re a viscous, horrible existing creature. When people speak of your grace and beauty, I think about wringing my fingers around your thin, long neck. I have seen what you are capable of. You’re a monster. I assumed you probably were already dead until I found out that swans can live up to 30 years, which in that case, means you might still be swimming the canals of southern western Suffolk County, Long Island, haunting other humans.
I mean, c’mon, we were kids for Christ’s sake. You know what we named you? We named you “The Evil Swan.” And not just my family. You were widely known throughout our town as well as neighboring towns as “THE Evil Swan.” We speak about you to this day like some legendary villain. The swan, who, not only attacked small children but also adults.
I’m sure you don’t remember the specific time you jumped on our boat and attacked my father. Well, I’ll never forget it! It’s not like we were taunting you! He was tying up the boat, and there you are, just waiting for him to turn his back on you so you can fly in for a cheap sneak attack and then take snaps at him with your beak.
Do you recall another time, using your wings to try to hold my brother underwater? You’re probably thinking, “which kid? I did that to as many kids as possible.” Asshole winged beast.
You were especially horrible to children. Perhaps because they are your own size, you ugly duckling wannabe. Perhaps you came to be how you were because some humans killed your babies once. And then you swore to terrorize as many humans as possible. See that? I wrote you a sympathetic back story. Still doesn’t mean I don’t hate you. You can’t hold the entire human race accountable for some jerk offs. You might think this hypocritical of me as a human, since humans are known to hold grudges against crimes of our ancestors and are horrible and prejudice to each other because of it, so I see the irony in there a little bit. Still doesn’t mean I don’t hate you.
Sure, I acted tough. As I so often do. You were a bird, feared. We didn’t want to mess with you. We didn’t seek trouble. You sought trouble. Many times, there would be my siblings and I on the dingy, motoring down the canal, me gripping a baseball bat to defend ourselves against you, specifically. That’s right. Our dingy was armed with a baseball bat to protect us from a fucking swan. You. The Evil Swan. Our father gave us a baseball and told us that if you jumped on the dingy to not hold back. White knuckles clenching the bat, I’d keep a sharp eye out for you. Just when we thought we were safe, you’d emerge from behind a boat. Lay a single feather on my brother or sister, I’d put my pinata swinging skills to work on your body (however, if my piñata history taught me anything, it’s that I’m really not good at beating animals until candy comes out).
Looking back on it now, it was pretty disgusting that we used to frequently swim in canals. All too often those canals were repugnant with thin layers of oil and sea debris from lack of circulation. Honestly, it makes me question my folks parenting.
Though if asked why my folks let us swim in canals in the first place, surely they’d reply with, “let you?!?! Every chance you guys got, you were jumping off boats into water, climbing poles to jump from a higher position, going off of roofs into pools… you guys were maniacs!” This I can’t contest. We were maniacs. But hey, the girl who jumps off cliffs has a rather predictable backstory. An early adrenaline addiction to the secret of life. I figured it out so long ago, the secret of life. It’s not about power— finding it, seeking it, creating more of it, hungry for it, greedy for it, satisfying the unsatisfied Id. It’s about surrender. The moment your hind leg pushes off the bow of boat, the top ledge of a dock, the highest rock above the water; that’s it right there. The moment of surrender.
This is something you’ll never understand. Mostly because you’re a swan and I assume you don’t understand very much. You were always attacking. Always. Hissing at us. Pecking at us. Look, I’d be the first person to tell you that being around people is awful, but you were the one invading our space. You seemed to get off on being a terror, but why? Did you enjoy it? Did you enjoy the fear in a kids eyes when you swooped down on them swimming.
See, that’s what makes someone evil. When they enjoy being mean. When making someone fearful gives them a kind of pleasure. Not only being the cause of pain, but enjoying it. That’s what evil is.
That’s what you are.
In defending my loved ones, I would have hurt you. If you laid one feather on them… But not since you have I had to arm myself with a weapon to protect myself from an oversized bird with an oversized neck (that’s right, I said it!).
Since you, whenever someone remarks at how beautiful a swan is, I shudder. I have seen what they are capable of. Then again, I’m the one who suggested that if humans hurt your family, to not hold it against my entire species. Here I am, holding your actions against all swans. You made fair pretend points, Evil Swan. That’s right. Give surrender to the swans minding their own goddamn business. Now, those swans I can relate to after all.
If your body was to be taxidermied and put out for display in my home town, we would walk by it and spit at you. Can’t honestly say you don’t deserve it. Someone not from our town might say something like, “wait, how do you that’s THE Evil Swan.”
“To be sure, I can’t tell now that they’ve replaced it’s beady evil eyes with actual beads.”
Though you could ask my brother. He never did forget the wings of a bird trying to drown him.
There’s no cruel fate I need to wish upon you, my arch nemesis. For you were a miserable fucking bird. You spent your life purposely trying to make others miserable. Your whole existence was your hell, you were merely a passing demon in ours. Try as you might, you never could ruin a summer for us. No, no… not even close. It was still our best time. You, The Evil Swan, united us. A common enemy. A real living piece of shit. Today, when we tell stories of your hiss, we don’t coil in fear— we laugh at you. We laugh at you.
Just Another Child On Your List,