Something terribly distressing happened to me yesterday. It was a sunny, brisk Sunday morning, and our day involved taking a ferry across lake Konstanz, which is apparently the largest lake in Europe. We parked the van on the ferry and went up on deck for a better view. The lake was beautiful- because it was very cold it was shimmering in the sunlight, and it was nicely punctuated with various waterfowl. Two swans in particular took our eye; they were swimming lazily in front of us, the ferry heading gradually towards them.
One swan saw the boat and moved well away, but the other one didn’t seem to. All of us on the boat were laughing, wondering when the swan was going to turn around and see the massive boat come towards it, but as we got faster and faster, we started to truly fear for the swan’s life. Closer and closer we got, and the second swan was still none the wiser. There were various shouts of ‘get out of the way!’ coming from onboard, and, seeing as I was one of the only 5 English people on the ferry, it was safe to assume that all of these shouts were coming from me.
When the ferry was about 2 metres away from hitting the swan, the people on the boat were in a state of panic. (at least in my mind.) It was made all the more tragic by the fact that, at the last moment, the swan realised it was about to be hit and paddled hopelessly to get out of the way. The ferry went over the swan, which subsequently disappeared.
Our first reaction was laughter- the stakes were so high that such an anti-climactic ending seemed very silly. I then started to worry for the swan. There was talk of it getting away, but others seemed certain of its demise.
One of my fellow actors said to me- “I’m SURE it’s safe.” But then we imagined that it would be funny if we were to go back on the boat later and say that while we saw a dead swan being dragged out of the water.
We shall never know if the swan lived. I like to think that it survived the ordeal and had a great story to tell when it went home to its family.