I like listening to seagulls scream. Yesterday I recorded the seagulls screaming on my phone, to keep. I realised for a moment that I must always be by the sea because the sound of seagulls takes me back to being a small child in the house my grandmother eventually, accidentally burnt down. Seagulls screaming also makes me feel content because I hate birds, and the sound they make sounds like they hate themselves too. I am comforted by the image of a bird who hates the fact they cannot control how they react to something digestible. I don’t know why I am doing this – the self-hatred bird might think – I wish I could exercise some self-control!
I had come to the river for a twenty-minute walk.
Fourteen minutes had passed so I circled back around on myself. Purple recycling bags next to pedestrian signs where the child has been scribbled out. Bodies of trees with white bark wrapped around their chests like bandages. There were two men running towards me. One wore a blue coat that I recognised because an old friend’s ex-boyfriend always wore a blue coat just like it. So, I walked out in front of the running men and presumed myself a large inconvenience to their run. And that is when I saw that the blue coat man had fallen on the floor.
Haha! I thought, how brilliant. How perfectly brilliant that this be something I witness on my twenty-minute walk. Perhaps his foot slid across a piece of broken glass, and so his body flung forward and bought him to his knees.
As he leapt from his knees back onto the path, I noticed the whiskey in his hand and the supermarket logo on the shirt of the other runner. Even better. It seemed the blue coat man couldn’t get away quick enough, and he threw the bottle of whiskey onto a patch of grass covered in plastic bags of dog shit. I didn’t like that he gave up so easily, that’s something that only someone like I would do. The man in the supermarket shirt stopped immediately, picked up the whiskey and walked away, as did I, as did the blue coat man.
I saw a woman then, standing by the bus stop with grey beams and a bright advert for the national lottery. Behind her was a long fence panel that had been painted black, and some kids had spray painted on it, in an unsettling white font: STREET NOT KNOWN?
I thought it was perfect.
Because if everything that had just happened, happened explicitly on a street that was not known, did it ever happen at all? Street not known. This street name is unknown. This street is absent from all roadmaps and government drones. I am lucky to live so close to a street that is not known, near a park with Fosters cans beneath its railings. I will return there later, with a box of all the things I need to get rid of. Perhaps I will toss it purposefully but carelessly onto the patch of grass with the bags of dog shit, for that is what I usually do. Or maybe I too will steal a bottle of whiskey; I can start a pile on the patch of grass in the park by the river on the street that is unknown, where people can bring all the things they desperately wanted but gave up on in an instant. It would be nice I think. Or maybe I will just tip it all gently into the raucous call of the gulls. Quietly pour whiskey on the bed they sit on and flick a match alight.
Start a fire accidentally.
Rebecca Lockwood (she/her) is a flash fiction and prose poetry writer, and former Young Poet Laureate for Staffordshire. Rebecca’s move into flash fiction and prose poetry comes after her undergraduate degree at Lancaster University, where she studied English Literature, Creative Writing and Practice. Twitter: @becklockwood7