A string of words he didn’t quite understand stirred him from his sleep. He blinked a few times and sat up, grabbing the book splayed across his chest. Haunched over, he smiled forlornly at the unfortunate tan-line around the book. He supposed it could’ve been worse – he could’ve left his glasses on, god – but it also could’ve been easily prevented, if he had just stayed awake. He had needed the sleep though, so he’d just have to deal with more derisive whispers of tongues for which he’d never had a grasp. He dug his fingers in to the sand to his right, picking up as much as possible, and watched as the grains ran like a stream.
A seagull landed in the sand, and he was surprised to see that it blended in.
He’d never been this close to a bird before. He watched it root around in the sand, occasionally hopping a couple of inches to the left and a couple more back right, and seemed rather lost. He wondered what it could be searching for.
He snapped his fingers softly, just to get the gull’s attention. He’d expected it to startle and fly away, but it cocked its head towards him. It seemed to be peering at him. He gestured towards the ocean before them, bringing his hands to his face and pursing his lips to imitate what he thought to be a fish.
The seagull stared back at him blankly.
There’s a baby crying in the distance, and he’s vaguely aware of the breeze picking up and that he should probably be more worried about the empty water bottle he’s sure would blow away if the wind got any stronger, but this bird captivated him.
There’s something to nothing, he thought. And this bird was nothing. Unless you heard its occasional grumbled squawk, you wouldn’t have noticed it there. It’s eyes were blank blacks dots and its feathered-coat was just as dirty as the should-be-pure sand it rooted through. It was restless and aimless.
If he looked around, he might have seen something more exciting than this seagull. Maybe there was a setting sun on the horizon or foggy blue mountains just beyond the other side of the shore. There was probably a beautiful person he could discover. But there was this bird and he was entranced.
The seagull flew away as suddenly as it came, and not without a ceremonious dropping of a present, something that landed just upwind of his towel. He was left with a feeling of uncertainty in his gut, something hot – and it couldn’t be because of the sun; the wind was blowing and the beach was cool.
He looked over to his book, split on its spine, and back out to the water. He picked it up, brushed the sand from its pages, and laid back down. To read.