Two big seagulls swoop down on a French fry that floats in the sea. They wrestle with it, flapping their wings aggressively as the fry predictably splits in two. The birds fly away. I pick up another three fries and fling them into the wind. The bay wall I’m sitting on is rough, and I consider diving into the low tide.
Refreshing, fun, and maybe she’ll think it’s daring that I jump into the ocean out of nowhere. I ponder on it for another minute and decide against it.
Seagulls fly away with more of my fries.
“Do you think these birds could survive without us?” she asks.
“Of course,” I reply. “Don’t know how, but they’d figure it out.”
“Maybe they knew how to survive without us before we started throwing them french fries,” she wonders.
I throw more food into the waves.
“But now, if we stopped, they’d die.” She continues. “I don’t know if that makes us the heroes or the villains.”
“Jeez, Meela.” I laugh. “Not that deep.”
When she doesn’t laugh, I look over at her.
Her mess of curls blows in the wind. She doesn’t take her deep brown eyes off the ocean, and for a second she looks like she’s in a vacation ad.
"Everything has a deeper-"
“Have you ever thought about modeling?” I interrupt.
Meela laughs nervously and faces me. “No.”
“I feel like you have.”
Meela smirks at me, and my heart flutters.
“Maybe.” Meela shakes her hair out of her face and rests her palms on either side of where she sits. She’s getting excited.
“I feel like I could do it, you know?” she says. “Agencies have been dying for black girls the past ten years.”
“I don’t think you’d be good because you’re black, you’d be good because you’re beautiful.”
Meela whips her head at me, mouth agape. Her eyes close down with a smile.
“Did you just call me beautiful?” she giggles.
“Thank you, Tony.” She turns back to the water. “Maybe I’ll put together a portfolio.”
“Y-yeah, I can help.” My pulse picks up.
“You’d really help me with that?” she asks.
We look at each other, and my eyes fix on hers. I open my mouth to speak, but her phone rings.
She looks down at the bay wall where we sit, then turns and pulls her phone out of her back pocket. “It’s Caleb.”
My thoughts scatter like the fries in the wind.
“You heading out?” My eyes are back on the ocean.
“Yeah, it’s date night,” she turns around and leaps off the wall. “Haven’t even showered yet, he’s gonna make a fuss.”
I turn to face her. “You got this. I’m sure he’s a patient boyfriend.” I mutter.
On her way to her car, she shoots me back a look.
“Don’t get on him,” she defends.
I throw my hands up in surrender.
“You want a ride home?” She offers.
I can’t stop looking at her blowing hair.
“I think I’m gonna chill out here for a little while longer,” I say.
“Alright.” She drops into her car and calls out from the window. “Thanks for a fun time.”
As her car pulls out of the sandy lot, I turn back around to face the ocean. It’s a completely different world. Birds who like fast food, waves that lead to the end of the world, and Meela.
Not the real Meela, the fantasy one that likes me instead of her redneck boyfriend.
I pick up the remainder of the fries and chuck them with all the strength in my back.