Friday, October 25, 2013

The Gull - A Short Story

Jane was sitting on the terrace of the Italian villa that she and Bob had hired for the week. She was eating a combination of breakfast foods and lunch foods, at a time of the morning somewhere between the two meals.

She sighed and stretched her body out in her wicker chair as the sigh turned into a yawn. Morning sunlight glinted off the glass table, and she briefly caught the slightly acrid, sweet smell of the cypress trees nearby that were swaying gently in the breeze.

Bob was still in the shower; she could hear him singing a tasteful slowed-down version of the Macarena. He would come and join her later, or she would shower when he had finished. They would walk together down to the lake, through the pine forest.

Suddenly a massive gull landed on her breakfast table, making the coffee pot rattle. One of its talons, or is that just for eagles?, landed in her bowl of Mulino Bianco.

Jane shrieked, but not loud enough for Bob to hear her. "Heeey - Macarena, wah HAI", he trilled in the distance, blithely.

Jane was now sitting deep in her seat. She studied the bird, which looked right back at her with a 'Don't fuck with me' expression. It was very menacing, and reminded her a bit of her uncle Arthur. It hopped a little closer to her on the table, sliding a bit on the glass. Jane tried not to giggle. She didn't want to piss the gull off any more than it already was.

The gull kept staring at her. It had beady, stupid eyes with a glazed surface, and its beak was brown and curved downwards, all the better to shuck oysters with. She shifted in her chair, and extended a leg towards the French window leading back into the villa, tentatively trying to make a move away from the gull and its inquisitive face. Face? Not face. Maw? No. Anyway, she was trying to escape.

The gull looked at her again with its 1930s gangster expression. Very suddenly, it lunged at her and attempted to peck her right eye out. Jane quickly moved a hand up to protect her eye, and caught a sharp nip across her knuckles, which immediately began to bleed.

"What the fuck?" said Jane, out loud. The gull didn't say anything.

Jane's whole body was still shaking from the shock of having been lunged at by a massive bird, but she nevertheless steeled herself and tried to whoosh it away. She imagined the bird would get out of the way of her whooshing gesture, as pigeons do before oncoming cars, or if you run up to them at Trafalgar Square or in Piazza San Marco, or other great city concourses where pigeons congregate. But the bird was too slow and thick - or perhaps arrogant - and Jane's big shooing movement caught it right across the face. Face? Head.

The bird looked shocked and wounded. Upset, more than anything. It gazed at her with a now-disappointed expression, took a couple of steps back, u-turned, and flew away.

Jane shuddered. She went to drain her bowl of cereal at the kitchen sink. Bob emerged from the bathroom, still humming. He had a towel tied around his waist - a touchingly prudish gesture given that Jane had seen his penis and testicles well over a thousand times by now.

"Alright darling?" he said, and kissed her on the forehead.

"I'M NOT IN THE MOOD FOR SEX RIGHT NOW BOB," Jane screamed at him.

"Jesus! I was just asking!" said Bob.

"Well don't," said Jane. "You'll ruin the holiday."

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