Shoeless Seagulls

Preface: Part of a collection of short stories revolving around a port town and a lighthouse. If you haven’t read the last one: http://wp.me/p6oCGV-pI

The small of my neck was exposed to the salty ocean breeze when I woke up. I was lying face first into the concrete wall that surrounded the perimeter of the island. I tasted my spit and winced at the taste of creation.

I pushed forward and propped myself to sit. My bare legs were beginning to burn in the morning sun, and as I traced my hand down towards my bare feet I looked into the ocean to my side. It’s surface shone in the glow of the sun, creating schools of tiny light boats. I stared into those schools, trying to find some kind of semblance towards humanity, but the harder I looked the more the oceans ebbed and the more the breeze began lulling me into another sleep.

I waved my hands across to my sides to find my shoes. My skirt was dirtied, and the t-shirt I was wearing wasn’t tight at all. I could feel my hair prick my back, and I felt blood drip from my lips. I was practically naked. I wiped the blood from my mouth, and got up holding my shoes.

I turned my gaze from the ocean to the lighthouse that stood at one end of the island, staring into the ocean like a sentry. The lighthouse looked as if it was crumbling, as if the bricks that held it together wanted desperately to fall apart, to find its way back to its maker. I tried to look into the top of the lighthouse, to see the lantern, but my eyes couldn’t discern anything from its top. The lighthouse keeper’s house laid to the side, but the keeper himself didn’t seem to be around.

I began walking along the concrete wall, looking into the island town covered by fields of green, watched by the white of the clouds. As I trotted along waving my shoes I began noticing the ocean to my side, swaying in tune to my steps. I smiled and I laughed and I couldn’t help but tumble some words out of my mouth, “It’s not me though. You’re not the one who’s following me. It’s quite the opposite.”

I began imagining the ocean’s waves crashing onto the concrete wall to be the ocean’s voice. I imagined the breeze to be the ocean’s touch, and the world around us to be a room to ourselves. There wasn’t a single person out on that morning, and even the sun above us was nothing more than a quiet guardian. The lighthouse was far from our world, and I began talking to the ocean.

“I’m the one who’s following you, right?”

“I wouldn’t say that,” the ocean answered. I imagined the ocean’s voice to be as clear as the morning dew, a voice that could bellow out to the entire world and land only on me. When I looked into the ocean, I only saw a meek image of myself, a version of myself that I wished to dispel with the ocean.

“Then what would you say? What I’m doing right now, how would you see it?”

“You’ve been visiting me every day, always watching me until sunset, and then falling asleep by my side. You’re not really following me, but simply keeping me company.” My hair swayed behind me as the ocean winds began trashing around me. My feet was starting to warm on the concrete wall’s surface, and I could feel the small of my neck transfixing into a warm effigy.

“Do you want my company?” The ocean paused. And so did I. Once the waves began flowing, I began walking again.

“I can’t say if I do, or if I don’t. In the end, you can do whatever you want,” the ocean answered.

“Even if I might bother you?”

“Even if you might bother me. I can’t stop you. And I don’t want to force you to stop.”

“That… Makes it sound like I’m the most selfish person in the world.” That thought was a transient worry. After all, the world that we inhibited retained only myself and the ocean.

“And you’re allowed to be the most selfish person in the world.” The ocean’s winds began wrapping itself around my body, trying to bring me into its embrace. Although I felt comfortable with the ocean’s winds and the sun’s warmth, something in me wanted to fight that embrace. My hair began wrapping itself around my back, and my chest felt like it was being constrained by steel pipes.

“You won’t hate me?” I answered the ocean, trying to free myself from its grasp.

“I don’t think I’m capable of that.” I smiled. I walked to the end of the concrete wall, and plopped my shoes off onto the dirt road. I then sat with my feet hanging onto the slope of the wall, and began kicking like a child on a swing as I forced my back onto the ocean.

“If I could, would you let me be with you forever?” I asked. The ocean’s waves crashed hard onto the concrete wall. It then settled, and for a few minutes, never began again. I smiled at this as well. I jumped down onto the grass next to the dirt road, landing like a frog about to burst, and dusted myself off while picking up my shoes. I pressed my bare feet onto the dirt road, and as I began heading back into the island town filled with steel, I heard the calls of seagulls above me. I turned into the sun, raised my hand to protect my eyes, and saw a flock of seagulls slicing the empty skies, tracing circles with the clouds above. They then settled onto the concrete wall, staring into the ocean, with their bare feet leaving an implant on the surface of the wall.

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