A Feathered Phobia

Katrina frantically ran in front of the car, flailing her arms overhead as if fighting off a hostile swarm of bees. It was as if some unseen force was chasing her, pursuing her with the most malicious intent. Her screams resounded through the windows of my Cherokee, while some invisible, malevolent being assaulted her. I drove toward her through the parking lot, set atop the pink granite outcropping of rocks, which jut out into the tempestuous cold green waters of the Gulf of Maine, and she just ran away from me, down the middle of that old cracked road.

The water churned that day as it roiled against the barnacle covered ledges which stretched into the ocean, like fingers from the pinkest skinned hand. The ocean seemed at odds with the stony terra as if it tried to subdue it, bend it to its will, make it submit to the cold green deep. Frothy water shot from crevices running vertically to the ocean, as the force of waves caused spume to shoot high, like geysers of briny water issuing forth from deep within the granite. A cold breeze blew off the ocean, chilling us as we basked in the early autumn sun, as if all our worries flittered away, bit by bit, in that salted bitter air.

She ran fast, faster that I would have thought. I remember seeing her run down that road. She moved quick. My mind flashed as to why she would be running away screaming, but she did, and I could do nothing but move toward her. The firs and cedars stood on each side of the road, gnarled and wind-bent, as if they tried to reach out for her and grab her, to stop this manic episode.

We clambered across the rocks that day, leaping over deep and wide fractures in the granite ledge, the deep fissure descending to jagged boulders and cobbles below. Climbing across pink granite, we made our way to a Brobdingnagian boulder that leaned across the cliff face, creating a small cave inside. We entered this darkened hole feeling like explorers, only to come out on the other side seconds later , no danger or risk presented to us. Crossing a scree field which high tide would cover, we jumped across boulders as the water rushed in, tickling our toes, trying to devour our feet with its cold lips and frothy teeth. We made it to the other side dry, and we sat by the edge of the ocean, with our feet dangling over the edge of the sheer cliff, as water exploded below us in divine spectacle.

Seagulls flew by her as she ran, and her arms flailed around in a display of seizure activity. The grand-mal spasms of her arms were chaotic and discordant as she she ran down the road, her screams drifting in the air, seagulls flying around like bits of snow in a souvenir globe, shaken heartily by a five year old on vacation, never letting the white bits settle to the fake ground. I could do nothing but move toward her, my jeep sputtering as I idled the accelerator, barely moving down the road. I was concerned, yet puzzled by this whole event, and like a curious bystander who witnesses an event, I stared at her, my mind locked, only on this moment.

Katrina and I sat all afternoon gazing out upon the heaving ocean. We felt the rays of the sun beat down on our faces, as the chill wind of autumn cut through our clothes we enjoyed this simple pleasure of quietude. Eventually we climbed back over scree field and rock, and ventured back through our cave to the parking lot. We parted ways, as she went to the restroom and I retrieved the car. Moving the jeep to the restrooms, a flock of seagulls walked in front of me, slowly moving like a mass of plankton floating in the sea, only directed by the movement of the ways. They moved en masse and just sat there as I stopped, waiting for Katrina. She walked along the path to me, and stopped abruptly. A blood curdling scream shattered the illusion of beauty, and she ran the opposite way down the road away from me. Confused, I put the car in drive, and edged my way through the hundreds of seagulls sitting there, causing them to fly in the air, a flurry of feathers released during a pillow flight, the sky inundated by them.

She continued to run down the road with a furious speed I could not have sustained myself, and eventually sped up next to her on a straight stretch, pulling up next to her. She was screaming wildly, and babbling incoherent speech. It was as if some spectre, some furious intangible demon was on her heels, but nothing was there, nothing but air and the few seagulls still lingering in the air, hoping to find out the cause of this unreal episode. Stepping out, I calmed her down, and Katrina collapsed into my arms, sobbing and occasionally thrashing at me. She heaved violent cries, while sweat poured down her cheeks and mixed with the salty tears which cascaded down, like a faucet had been turned. She flopped into the passenger seat, and with still no explanation, we made our way down the road.

“Son of a bitch,” she muttered between breaths.

“Who, me?” I said.

“John….”

“What happened?”

“Seagulls. The seagulls. Just drive. Please, just drive.”

We drove in silence for the longest time, and after we were away from that place and she had settled down, I was informed of the problem. Katrina had a phobia, a legitimate phobia of birds. So as I drove to her, I kept pushing the seagulls her way. They swarmed around her like snow around a pine tree rooted in a blizzard, and all I did was corral them toward her, as I pushed them with my jeep. I laughed so hard when she told me this, when I realized what I had inadvertently done, I could not help myself but guffaw.

Needless to say, there were no more dates after that.

 

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