The Secret Life of Seagulls

“Don’t do it!” she joked.

He turned around, saw the dog first. Followed the leash up to the owner, a forty-ish woman with a ponytail. She wasn’t unattractive, but he wasn’t exactly in the mood to talk to anybody.

The woman let out an uncomfortable giggle, threw her eyes to the dirt, then started to move on. But she couldn’t help saying a quiet, “Sorry.” He suddenly felt bad, like he made her feel guilty.

“No, it’s alright. I am sitting on the edge of a cliff.”

She kept walking, saying into her shoulder, “No, I didn’t mean to disturb you. Have a nice day.”

He called after her, “You didn’t disturb me.” She looked over her shoulder this time, smiled politely, but continued to allow her dog to lead her away.

He watched her go, then looked back over the ocean. The rocky beach was far below his dangling feet. Even though he’d grown up around here, this was the first time he’d ever sat on the edge. He was sad this was the first time. The open spaces all around him made him feel like he could fly. Like he was already flying. Maybe that’s why the woman thought he might “do it.”

But she was just joking. He got sad that she left. It might have been nice to talk to someone of the opposite sex again. Even if it was someone his mother’s age. Maybe they could have had an affair, right under her husband’s nose. Maybe he could remind her what it was like to be young again. But she’d probably end up resenting him for that very same reason, and late one night she would call it off over the phone, maybe while he was waiting for her at the hotel room she would still want to pay for. He would say no, of course, that he would cover it so that she wouldn’t have to put it on her credit card where her husband could see. He would try to be indignant, self-righteous even, but her pathetic tone would melt his heart and he’d end up feeling sorry for her. Maybe he’d drive by her house once or twice, even though she lived forty minutes away from his home and office, which incidentally were the same thing.

There. An entire fictitious relationship, created in just under five minutes while sitting here on the edge of a cliff. He watched the waves crash on the rocks below and wondered why he was always so good at visualizing the break-ups.

A seagull landed about ten feet from where he sat. It picked at the dirt, then looked directly at him. Or at least he thought the seagull looked at him. It’s hard to tell with birds. He knew he wanted the seagull to look at him. But before he was able to decide whether he and the bird were actually sharing a moment, it flew off over the bay below. As the gull glided a hundred feet above the rocks and water, he wondered how people are able to tell the sex of birds.

He leaned back and felt the dead grass underneath his hands. Good thing he didn’t smoke. At least not regularly.

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Published on March 13, 2008 at 9:44 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I like ho he projects the specific details of their relationship. There’s a subtle comedy there that I really appreciate.


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