Flash Fiction – Lakeside
written by -M. Taggart
The water licked the dock quietly. He liked how the breeze pressed against his body and how it made the hairs on his arms feel. His eyes were closed. The sun was hot but not hot enough to make him uncomfortable. He was content lying here doing nothing. He could remember only a handful of times ever feeling like this. One of those times was while he was with his grandfather on a summer day. He remembered rocking on a wooden outdoor swing in the backyard near the garden. He rocked until he thought of nothing, not even the sun or whether it was hot, or of the carrots that he wanted to pull from the earth, wash off with the garden hose, and eat right away. He rocked with a faint notion of feeling gratitude toward his grandfather for allowing him this moment and trusting he would be safe while alone. Even that faded and he didn’t think of it or about how it made him feel. Now though, the dock was his outdoor swing, sitting just above the lake. In the distance a dog barked and the bark echoed in his mind.
Written by M. Taggart
Fiction: This short story is much about unconscious societal behavior.
Copyright 2015 by Matt Taggart, aka -M. Taggart
The Noble Seagull
The sand was hottest when his feet left the shelter of his beach towel. He placed his toes in the sand to feel its sting. The sun was high and bruising. His mother had lathered him with sunscreen lotion. He smelled like a hospital room. His mother was sitting in a beach chair next to him. She was on her phone talking to her sister. Her voice arched upward when needing to alert her sister just how much she understood.
He watched a grey and white seagull walk toward a bag of chips not far from him. The bag was left open by a family that had gone to swim and be in the waves. The seagull had a large puffed-out chest and dark flecks of color around its eyes. It was a large bird. He liked the bird and noticed the size of its webbed feet. Its feet look very sure of each step even if its eyes did not. He wanted to ask his mother what seagull feet were called but she was still on the phone.
Now other seagulls were flying overhead and squawking at the one below. He watched as they circled and then dove down. His bird flapped its wings at the approaching competition. It was as though he were watching a dance. Though, he knew this dance wasn’t an ordinary dance. If the family came back, they’d surely chase the seagull away and he wouldn’t eat the chips. If another bird pushed him away then his bird would need to find another bag and start the process over. Just now his bird strained his neck and opened his large wings while he pulled a number of chips from the bag. The seagull snapped at the chips and they were quickly gone. Its darting eyes now found a number of his brethren had landed near him and were coming closer with agitated motions.
The boy looked from the mass of seagulls surrounding the bag of chips to other families lying on spread out blankets and beach chairs. Each family had brought food. Some of the food was kept cool in plastic coolers with ice in them. Others brought food in plastic bags that didn’t need to be cooled. Near the sand dunes were overflowing metal trash barrels. Seagulls were pulling at the plastic bags to break rotting food loose. People ran and jumped into the ocean and smiled while splashing one another. Fathers asked daughters to come out deeper where the big waves were. Mothers dared their sons to pick up seaweed and wear it on their heads. The seagulls walked and flew in between them all.
His seagull flapped its wings and charged another while squawking then dashed quickly back and clasped the end of the bag then lifted; each remaining chip now lay in the sand. A great chorus of squealing birds erupted. The boy thought he read sadness in the bird’s eyes. A strong sea wind flipped a number of the noble seagull’s feathers backward. The onslaught was too much for any one bird to defend. He snatched a few large chips and took flight. He watched the seagull soar into the air and wanted to know where it would go. He thought the bird flew with dignity and he hoped he would live a long life and not become too cold during winter. The bird flew near the overflowing metal trash barrels and then over the top of the wooden steps leading to the beach bathrooms and then was gone.
A thrashing took place over the upturned bag of chips. Only a few oily crumbs were left in the sand. The birds fought over the empty bag.
‘Get out of here! Nasty sky-rats!’ his mother shouted. She held her phone away as not to yell loudly in her sister’s ear. ‘Honey, those are nasty birds. They are scum. Get up and chase them away.’ His mother went back to talking with her sister. She hadn’t known he made a new friend. She didn’t realize he thought his bird was noble and walked with sure steps. He didn’t ask what the seagulls webbed feet were called.
(Note: I’m considering a second chapter. Feedback would be appreciated.)
If you enjoyed this short story you might also enjoy my self published short story found via the link below.