At school there were seagulls. They swam, bloated and heaving, above the grey waters of the playground. They had grown fat throughout the year on half eaten muffins plucked from our gloved fingers.
In my chair by the window I watched them perched on the art department. There were thousands of them. Beady charcoal eyes glinting in what little sunlight broke through the storm clouds. They tussled and squawked and fought. Their feet drummed on the roof like hail stones and shook the classrooms below.
“The capital of Argentina?” The teachers voice.
I felt every one of them shift their attention to me. Repeatedly. Whatever the question, the seagulls were always waiting for the answer.
They picked chewing gum from between the pavement slabs with chiseling swipes of their beaks. They flocked in frenzied hives whenever anybody dropped a crumb. They grew bold and intimidating when the wind shifted and the clocks went backwards.
Whenever anyone complained about them we were always told the same things.
“You should count yourselves lucky.”
Other schools had far worse things to worry about than seagulls. So when they stole my hat, or when they beat the new girl to the brink of unconsciousness, we just tried to be thankful.