What I Can Do in The Air by Helen Chambers
Helen Chambers, Flash Fiction Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
What I Can Do in The Air
‘What do seagulls eat, Dave?’
‘Fish,’ he says, staring at his phone.
He’s supposed to be babysitting me. Mum wouldn’t let me dangle my legs over the edge of the jetty, eating chips with one hand and crabbing at the same time.
Seagulls with grey and white feathers whirl around, never hitting each other. I chuck a chip at them and watch them scream and dive after it. One snaps it up in his yellow beak and two others chase him away.
Dave’s smiling at his phone. Mum’s probably sent another selfie of her and the baby.
There’s a tug on my line and I haul up the biggest crab of the day. ‘Look Dave! A huge one!’
‘Yeah,’ he says, but doesn’t look. I shake the crab off into the bucket, and watch it crawl over the others. There’s not enough room.
‘Take a picture of me and the crabs to show Mum?’
‘Yeah. Later.’ He never looks, and now the baby’s here, Mum doesn’t either.
I want to swoop and glide with the gulls, catch chips in my beak, and fly far away.
Dropping my crabbing line into the water with a gentle splash, I watch the ripples spread out in circles. The crabs fall like stones when I tip up my bucket. Dave still doesn’t look. So I chuck the chips into the air and shout: ‘Free food!’
I dive and fly with the gulls, but already I know I’m falling through air and into the water. It’s so cold when it covers my head, I close my eyes, and I swoop around like a gull in the sky.
Then I’m pulled out into the air, and I cough. Dave pants and lifts me up out of the water.
‘You stupid sod. What will your Mum say?’