I laugh, revelling in the warmth of the sky; the celebrations; the colours. Nights like this always bring us together — scavengers, winged and pawed alike. Indigos merge seamlessly into violets, turquoises, creams, ambers, apricots, cherries. The flames of lanterns dance with each other; unknown, joyful spirits that only show themselves at celebrations.
The music swoops into the sky, streamers of colours in disguise, ballet ribbons.
I glide on my strong, slate wings, wheeling over the festives, turning an inquisitive eye here, a curious head there. A cheer erupts: A regal mast coming into sight. Some gulls take the opportunity to dive-bomb distracted food holders, I just laugh at their typical antics, winging my way out to the tall ships.
Over the cobalt water I fly, the blue rushing away beneath my streamlined body. I meet with the first majestic beast, landing on its deck. The only other creature here is a boy, writing a letter by the looks of it. Curious, I hop closer. Why is he not joining the crews warm laughter?
He folds the paper, letting the wind it carry within a herring’s breath of the edge, before catching it, silver, celtic-knot like torc catching the moon as he does so.
I did warn him, but, frankly, he wasn’t listening: If you tease the wind, it’ll tease you back. The breeze whirled the letter out of reach before abruptly blowing it back at him, framing it with cheerful, glowing torches and magenta laughter from the steadily approaching shoreline. He reaches for it and the dizzy breeze lets his fingers brush it lightly, before dropping it, moving on for different entertainment.
I take off, lazily landing on the swell, and intercept its decent. The boy stares in bemusement and surprise as I lift it up into the cerulean twilight.
Shapes and colours of laughter, dancing, celebration cascade round me, luring me towards the excited town. More cheers, more masts appearing and still, the atmosphere of excitement manages to spurt more colours. Electric blues and salsa reds flash as the dancing continues.
Home baked pasties in hand, exuberant children point, joining the cheering as the sea giants roll closer across the playful swell. I’m tempted to abandon my mission but, for some reason, I feel the urge to drop the letter to its destination. But where is its destination? Well, as the boy was so rude as to neglect to tell me I will drop it where I deem fit.
Giddy with the evening’s joy I let my wings paint lines across the sky that is thick with goopy joy and the carefree dancing. The shouts call me back and I circle lower over the quay that’s crammed with whooping figures. Music proclaims its shapes, colours, texture to me, to the crowd, to the proud Tall Ships that are entering the harbour. Lower I swoop, receiving catcalls:
“Who’s the letter for, Gully?”
Now’s the time then. Picking my spot at random I prepare drop the folded paper, but stop short, flapping crazily to rise up again. A teen reaches up to grab my letter, laughing at my furious close-beak caw. I scan the crowd in search of the man I saw. Or rather, his torc; exactly like the boy’s. So my delivery will be successful!
Towards him I glide and drop it at the perfect time, crowing my triumphant delivery to all who care to listen. Perhaps I’ll be remembered as the Seagull with the post… or maybe just the Gull who got tipsy. Amused, I perch on a gutter, watching the man who caught my delivery. The crowd around him have resumed their whooping, clapping, stamping; only pausing occasionally to peer over his shoulder or give the Letter Man a quizzical look. He finishes reading and I watch a smile take root on his face, he grabs someone’s hand, dragging them into a whirling dance, and soon, the entire crowd is revolving in wide circles. Crazy grins, joyful colours, swaying lanterns, excited music: The Letter Man outshines them all.
The noble ships come in and the dance breaks up, making space for more clapping, more stamping. As they dock fireworks leap, telling their colours and sounds. Crackles, drumbeats. Wolf-whistles, violin melody. A sky of deep phthalo blue. Colours and lights, music and cheers – they join together, weaving a rug of giddy, carefree celebration, a chance to dance and sing and laugh with friends and strangers alike.
I catch sight of the still smiling Letter Man, then take off after him as he pushes his way good-naturedly through the crowd. He arrives at the dock as the first ship’s gang plank hits the harbour wall. The Wind Teaser darts from a hiding place, skidding down the walkway towards the freely cheering crowd. The stamp and clap for him as he takes a comical bow before skipping behind a barrel. The rest of the crew parade down, unaware of the off-script Wind Teaser. More stamping, more clapping, cheering, more fire works. I turn back to where the Letter Man was and see not one, but two people, hugging tightly: wide smiles on their faces. I swoop past, circling above them just long enough to catch a snatch of their conversation.
“I don’t know how that Seagull knew…”
“Lifted the letter right out of the sea, must’ve been unreadable!”
“It was, I could just make out ‘Tall Ships’. Oh, and ‘From Finner’.”
Well, it seems my service was useful after all. Now, how ’bout a pasty?