Author: Irene Montaner

Seventeen days. Alana made another straight line beside the previous sixteen.

The faint light of the first sun rays already filled the kitchen. The kettle whistled. Alana poured herself a cup of tea and watched the milk swirl in the brown water. Soon milk and tea combined into one appetizing beverage. Alana sat down to enjoy her morning cuppa and scribbled some words in her diary. Feeling fine.

Alana looked out of the window. There was no one to be seen. Only the sun rising over the horizon reminded Alana that the world was still spinning, That and the seagulls. Soon they would start squealing their histrionic squeals, the only sign that life went on in the outside world.

The seagulls had always been there. Living on the seaside, Alana was used to them. She used to enjoy watching them hover over the ocean and diving in the waters to catch some food. She even liked the distant sound of the squawking. But that was before confinement. As people shut themselves into their homes, or whatever other form of shelter they could think of, the gulls took over their place in the village. First, they owned the pier, then they conquered the beach line promenade, finally, they made home all over the houses of the tiny village and Alana’s front porch was now inhabited by scores of seagulls.

The beep of her smartphone brought Alana back to reality. She swiped her index finger across the screen, desperate for news. But no news of Shane came, only the daily report on the virus’ death toll. Shane had gone to out two days before the lockdown and never came back. Alana had hoped that he’d returned soon after the bars shut down. But as the days passed by and life died out in the village, Alana began to fear that Shane’s life had also ended somewhere far from home, infected by that mysterious virus that made pariahs of all sick people.

Every day Alana tried to take her mind off those scary thoughts. She journaled, she drank her tea, she gazed at the sea from her window. There was not much else she could do when locked inside her house. But lately, whenever she looked outside all she could see were seagulls. And their cry was piercing her skull and infesting her brain with a different disease. Fear. Madness. Her memories of Shane often merged with her view of those screeching birds and in her mind, she would see dozens of gulls feasting on his corpse. She was going crazy. She had gone crazy and for the first time in seventeen days, Alana opened the door and went outside.

The warmth of the spring sun greeted her, the salty sea breeze made her feel alive. She closed her eyes and inhaled and exhaled. Inhaled and exhaled. She opened her eyes and watched the seagulls fly away. None of the birds had cared to peck at her until no skin was left on her bones. None of the birds would care about Shane. She sat down and watched the sunset.

The phone didn’t ring that night either. The sun rose once more. Eighteen days. Another straight line, another cup of tea. Alana jotted some more thoughts. Still feeling fine.