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Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2283452
A sculptor expresses his love for a beautiful ballerina. 972 words
Leonora Wilder was a beautiful dancer, slender and delicate. She was small and dainty, with graceful lines and a sweet, innocent face, and she danced Odette the swan superbly.

Sterling McGill, a talented, wealthy sculptor, attended the Swan Lake ballet in San Francisco with a friend. Sterling was immediately captivated by the lead ballerina, who danced Odette.

The very next day, Sterling got in touch with his contractor, who was able to purchase the silver he wanted. He began work on a swan made entirely of silver. It took him just five days until the swan was complete. It stood twenty inches tall, and the eyes and the feathers were superbly sculpted.

Sterling’s manager took photos of it to the artist’s regular gallery contact, who was thrilled with the piece and valued it at $15,000. But Sterling surprised them both by refusing to sell it, saying it was to be a gift.

After another performance of the ballet, the artist visited Leonora in her dressing room.

“My dear Miss Wilder,” he said when she agreed to see him. “I should like to present you with this gift, in hopes that you will agree to have dinner with me tonight.” He proudly displayed the glorious Silver Swan sculpture.

The dancer smiled and admired the piece, but said, “Oh, I’m very sorry, Mr. McGill. I cannot accept such a valuable gift.”

“Oh, my dear, you must!” He pleaded with her, comparing the Swan with her skill dancing Odette and, unbelievably, he convinced her to go to dinner with him. “Just dinner,” he promised, “and just this once.”

She did enjoy herself at the famous restaurant, Bouché on Union Square, and agreed to a second date. During their fourth date, she finally agreed to accept the Swan, which in truth she adored. She had a craftsman from the crew prepare a pedestal for it in her dressing room.

Leonora and Sterling were soon dating regularly, being seen all over San Francisco. Their dates took them to Nob Hill, to the Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Opera, and of course the San Francisco Ballet. They visited Twin Peaks, Pier 39, Coit Tower, and the Top of the Mark for a gorgeous view of the city. Before very long, Sterling had worked up the nerve to ask her to marry him, and she accepted.

On the night of her final performance in the city, Leonora returned from her performance elated and eager to see her fiancée, Sterling. She was shocked and dismayed when she spied the empty pedestal. The Silver Swan had disappeared from Leonora’s dressing room. She cried out in grief and clung to Sterling, weeping and growing more and more agitated.

During the next few weeks the dancer began to fade. She soon stopped dancing entirely, and took to her bed. Sterling realized he had to retrieve the Silver Swan, and soon, so that he might keep her from dying.

The police were no help at all, though they questioned everyone who had been in the theater the day of the disappearance, and got nowhere. Sterling kissed the ever-fading Leonora and set out for a solitary walk. As he strolled, he thought about the Swan, and who could have taken it.

Thinking it over, he soon realized that there were few people who could have breached security at the theater. Those few included the other dancers, whom the police had already questioned; the immigrant janitor, Manny Guiterez; and Leonora’s own manager. He suspected the other dancers would have had no reason to enter her dressing room, so that left Manny, the janitor; and Dave, her manager.

He asked Manny what he knew and whether he had been in Leonora’s room. “I not clean Miss Wilder’s room tha’ night, and when I clean it the next day, I see the Swan is gone. I thought she must ha’ take it with her.”

Then Sterling asked her manager, Dave Cochran, who had been a constant visitor in her rooms. Dave had been out of town the day the police had come to question the other dancers.
“You knew that night was to be her final performance,” he reminded the manager. “Did you take the Swan?”

“I did,” Cochran admitted, nodding. “I never thought it might be valuable. I assumed it was just some souvenir she’d picked up in the city. I’ll bring it back to you right away.”

He immediately returned the sculpture to Sterling. The artist wondered how he should react to the return of this precious piece – should he reward Dave, should he punch him? But he finally decided just to bring it back to Leonora.

When he entered her room, Leonora was resting and didn’t hear him at first. He cleared his throat and she turned to him. As soon as she saw the Swan, she gasped and jumped out of bed. She ran to him and rained kisses on him, and began to recover that very day. Before long, she was on the mend and planning the wedding.

The Silver Swan stood beside the altar at the wedding, alongside the lavish display of orchids and roses, and was admired by all their friends and family. After that, it never left their home.
Years later, Leonora told the story of the Silver Swan to her daughter, a prima ballerina herself, dancing Swan Lake.

“Sterling and I have decided you will have the Swan when we pass on.”

Her daughter, Suzanna, hugged her mother and gazed at the sculpture, which had been insured after the disappearance for $50,000. Mother and daughter stood together and admired the Swan.

Leonora recalled all the thrilling experiences she and Sterling had had together as she looked on. Suzanna thought she might like $50,000, though she’d never admit that to her parents.

The Swan was merely a piece of art to her, not the Heavenly object the sculptor and the dancer believed it to be.
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