"The Seagull" by Rhea DeRose-Weiss

A lonely woman thinks a seagull is stealing glances at her. She plays coy, engaged in a flirtation dance. After some tension, he flitters away.

No, this isn’t Kafka, but rather Rhea DeRose-Weiss’s “The Seagull” from Carve’s summer 2008 issue. The narrator is indulging a fantasy at the beach on Memorial Day. Fresh from a breakup, this “innocuous, decidedly unromantic holiday” is rendered memorable by the absence of her former partner (whom she refers to repeatedly rather comically as her “ex-boyfriend the poet”).

The narrator is forthcoming in a conversational, sometimes rambling way, telling us she’s “decided to become one of those women who goes out and does things on her own,” and that she’s “trying to learn how not to feel lonely in a crowd.”

Touching upon the impermanence and ever-shifting tides of love, “The Seagull” reaches poignant heights without veering off into the realm of magical realism. There’s a sadness to the vignette shared with us about the narrator’s heartbroken but ultimately battle-hardened mother (the narrator’s prototype), and to the inevitable moment the bird flies away (the narrator muses, “He isn’t the first, he won’t be the last”). The closing sections, most notably the last line, are particularly affecting.

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