The tale of Jessie and the Judgemental Seagull
Jessie was trying to find the motivation to finish the book review she’d been assigned for English. She’d had this homework for over a month – they’d been working through the text in class, and had some discussion groups too. But the book review was an individual assignment. School work wasn’t usually a challenge for Jessie, but this book was so totally dreadful, and the day outside so totally awesome, that she just couldn’t find the motivation to continue.
It didn’t help that they were at the family cottage this weekend, and that she was an only child for a few days. Her younger sister was off on a sleep-over, so she had full access to Bruno, her 6 month old pup, plus all the best beach spots. And here she was, forced to do homework. She stared at the blank computer screen, then out the window to the dunes and beach beyond. Mum and Dad were out on the deck, Bruno was lazing in the shade. She made a decision. The work could always be done tonight – shame to waste a beautiful late Spring day on homework.
Jessica shut down the computer and headed outside. On the way she grabbed Bruno’s treat bag to do some training with him. As she stepped outside, her dad heard her footsteps. “All done?” came a voice from beneath a floppy beach hat. “Pretty much,” she replied, and dashed down the steps to avoid further interrogation.
She clapped her hands and Bruno bounced up, eager to play. Together they dashed into the dunes. Jessie liked to play hide and seek with Bruno so she dived down into a hollow when Bruno wasn’t looking, then whistled. As she lay there, waiting to be found by the big brown hound, Jessie had a feeling that she was being watched. A big white seagull with a black spot on his cheek stood on top of the dune next to her, staring at her with his black, beady eyes. Jessie paid him no heed at first, but then the bird continued to just stare at her. It felt kind of creepy.
Just then, Bruno came bounding into view, so the two friends headed off to the water’s edge. Jessie threw a ball for Bruno, teaching him ‘fetch’. As she waited for his return, she had that feeling again. She turned around and there was the seagull – same black mark – just staring at her. Her guilty conscience pricked her – was the bird judging her for skipping her homework? What a ridiculous idea!
She called Bruno back and together they sprinted down to the end of the beach, where the rocky outcrops made tide pools. Jessie liked to spot small fish or crabs, and Bruno pawed at the reflections, splashing himself with the sun-warmed sea water. After some minutes of play, Jessie sensed a presence. She turned – and there he was again. The seagull stood on a rock a few feet away, staring intently at Jessie. Her feelings of guilt returned. The bird definitely looked as if her were judging her. She couldn’t relax, feeling that the bird knew her guilty secret. She turned, whistled to Bruno, and headed back to the cottage.
She stepped up onto the deck, waking her dad from his siesta. “Back already?,” he called.
“Yeah, I was thinking about my homework. I’ve probably got more to do than I thought, so I’ll just go finish up”
“Okay”, replied her dad.
As Jessie stepped over the threshold, her dad called to her again. “Oh, by the way, did you get followed by a seagull on the beach?”
“Yes. How’d you know?”
“I’ve noticed a seagull with an odd black mark on his head. Every day, he watches Bruno eating. As soon as he moves away from his bowl, he’s there. Seems to have a taste for Bruno’s kibble! Now, whenever he sees Bruno on the beach, he thinks there’s food nearby. He’s been following me on my walks every day. If you bothered to get up earlier, you’d have seen him on our morning walks”
Inspired by the Judgemental Seagull silently commenting on parking practice, homework delays, daughters, dogs and dreams of a summer cottage!
Published for S in the AtoZ Challenge.