The Seagull

by Victor Loghin [Romania]

translated from Romanian by  Doris Plantus-Runey and Alina Roşu [MTTLC student]

edited by Robert Fenhagen

pentru versiunea română click aici

“…The presence of the seagulls was disturbing me: I drove them out with stones. And I realised that their cries, of a supernatural stridency, were exactly what I needed, because only the terror could calm me down, and if only to meet the sunrise I had awoken ahead of it.”
[Emil Cioran]

Their cries disturbed me, so much so, that I thought that I despised them. It is funny how I came to need them. At first, I tried to scare them away with stones– brown ones, gray ones, a black and white one, but nothing seemed to scare them. It was only after the full extent of their screeching cries had assaulted me, did I realize that they were what I needed. Their hovering and dipping, their mottled, multi-colored feathers helping their bodies float on the currents of the wind.

It had taken time to get used to them; their throaty cries reminding me of a woman I knew. Many a night had been ruined.

The gulls collected on a building next door, and little by little, from a purely selfish desire to see them more closely, I had begun to feed them; first scraps, then better fare.
They watched him, also; their ochre eyes seeming to take in his every movement. The stories that the sailors had told me of them pecking out a living man’s eyes before he dies, stranded, were forgotten.
I watched them and even came to enjoy them.

One day, I went out onto my roof, and there stood one of the largest seagulls I had seen, so I jumped onto its back, and off we flew. A wave of nausea hit me. as we soared away from the eight story building, and I held the bird’s feathers tightly in both fists.
The feathers felt oddly soft, yet hard and sharp as razors at the same time, but I soon forgot them as we gained altitude and flew over the city. I had never seen the city from such a perspective; it was wonderful.
Flying over the main boulevard, we passed the waste dump outside of town, and as we made a huge, slow, circle above, I noticed on a sidewalk below statues of angels, and across the way, statues of devils. They looked if they were marching. They were different shapes and sizes, but were going someplace.
People walked between them unaware.
As we gained altitude and headed for home, I realized that I could never tell anyone of how I spent my day, or how I had gotten back.

They might think me insane–part of me couldn’t care less, but part of me needed to think of the statues that I had viewed from so far above. O might need to warn someone, and if they thought me insane…
I knew what he had seen and the implications were obvious, but, perhaps they were for me, only, to understand.
The great bird allowed me to slide off of its back, and took off once again, soaring into the gray sky with graceful flaps of its massive wings.
The other seagulls made no cry after that, and the city seemed silent.
I never told of my adventure, and never again have walked upon that particular sidewalk where good and evil marched, and people wandered in between, oblivious.
I never understood why, but I avoided that sidewalk as if my life depended on it.

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