By Teddy L. Friedline -
One seagull says to the other, “Nice weather today.”
The second seagull, whose name was Andreas, says, “Yes, it is. Much better than last week’s.”
“Oh, last week was no good at all,” said the first seagull, whose name was Richard. “I nearly fell in love.”
The second seagull nodded that he understood, though he didn’t understand at all. “The weather does that,” he said, though the weather had never done that.
“Yes,” said Richard, and then stopped saying anything. The ocean swelled to fill the conversation. Richard was thinking about last week.
“No, last week I didn’t go out at all,” said the second seagull. “Much too nasty out.”
“That wind,” agreed the first seagull. “Wicked. Knocks you plain off-course.”
“That it does,” said the second seagull, and then stopped saying anything. A cloud passed. The seagulls sat for a while. Then,
“Do you ever think…” Andreas said, and then stopped saying anything at all.
“Think?” Richard responded. He had not stopped looking at the clouds. There were many, many clouds.
“Do you ever think, maybe, that the weather isn’t ever nice at all?”
Richard stopped. He did not stop looking at the clouds. “… No. I said so, didn’t I? Nice weather today.”
“But…” Andreas’ feathers shifted. He did not ask them to do this. “… maybe the weather isn’t nice. It’s better than last week’s. But is it nice? Is it all nice?”
Richard did not look at Andreas. He did not know his name was Andreas. There were many, many names. “… I don’t know.”
“And what makes it better, anyway.” It wasn’t a question. Andreas said it flatly. “If you do fall in love, or you don’t. Is it the indecision that makes it un-nice. Or the result.”
Richard moved his eyes from the clouds to the ocean. “I don’t know that either.”
“If we don’t know what makes it nice…” Andreas seemed to settle. Deflate. Fold, collapse, leak. “… How do we know what’s nice at all, even compared to anything else?”
The seagulls stopped. One of them watched the clouds, and the other watched the ocean. Neither was sure which was which. Then Richard said,
“We feel it, I suppose.”
“But how do you even know you’re feeling, if not for whatever-it-feels is different from whatever-it-felt?” Andreas angled his beak-face toward Richard. He didn’t face him – only grew closer to the facing.
“That’s it, I suppose. Better and niceness and feeling – it’s all in change. In difference. In different from whatever-it-felt.” Richard resigned himself to this. His wing-shoulders settled. He watched the clouds again.
“But wouldn’t…” Andreas angled his beak toward the distant ground. “Wouldn’t it be nice, maybe, if it didn’t need to change. Even just for a while. To let you get your bearings. If the wind stopped for a bit to let you get used to being in the air before it tried to blow you around.”
Richard considered this distantly, remotely. “No,” he said, “if there is nothing for it to be nice against. For it to be nicer-than.”
“I wish it could,” Andreas said, “a bit. That we didn’t need change to have nice. That nice had some inherency, didn’t have to mean better-than.”
“If niceness were inherent, could any of us be nice?” Richard said. “What is inherent about you? Do you like it? Is it nice?”
The seagulls stopped saying anything. One of them watched the clouds, and the other watched the sea, and then they swapped, imperceptibly to the other or anyone else. They considered nothing. This was a change. It was neither nice nor better.
“Maybe,” said Andreas. “It’d be nice not to have to change.”
“Ever?” Richard said. He opened his beak to say something else.
“Anymore,” said Andreas. “It’d be nice not to have to change anymore. After having changed.”
Richard considered this remotely. Clouds passed. The seagulls watched them. Andreas stood.
“The waves,” he said. They were even. Not measured or consistent – but not pounding themselves against the beach, searching for a show of color against the sand, purple-blue or green or even distant yellow.
“Nice weather coming,” said Richard. “Better.”
Andreas shifted to one foot, then the other, then back again, then flapped his wings twice in a kinetic sort of way and flew away.
Teddy L. Friedline is a Maryland-based queer writer, editor, and artist. They serve as co-EIC of FAIRY PIECE MAG and as social media editor for Collegian. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Yes Poetry, the lickety~split, Burning Jade Magazine, and elsewhere. If you're reading this, they're probably thinking about cicadas. You can find them on Instagram and on Twitter @jadeitebtrdish.