The seagulls overhead

She exhales a package of air. He tries to catch it but it eludes him, rejects him.

He recalls times they’ve spent together—times he felt something akin to love or lust or a cocktail of the two—one intensifying the other. His nostalgia distracts him from these silent steps along a winding path on the shoreline.

His preference for moments passed - limbs criss-crossed on the couch, sunshine on bronzed skin - ejects him from the fullness of the present. Its fullness is a barrier for words.

Seagulls are squawking terribly. They’re not quite crying—they’re almost laughing. They are air raid sirens warning that they are here, that they take up space.

“But it’s so nice to be out in the sea air,” she says, trying to give some relief. “Mmm yeah I love how the salt stings my nose,” he says in a way that makes it ambiguous whether he is being sarcastic or trying to sound romantic.

“Look, I know I can be difficult sometimes,” he leads on towards the sandstone cliff, “But I find this whole situation difficult.” The stony path becomes slightly wider, he slows down and they walk side-by-side. “I ... I mean it’s not easy to be with you just as friends or whatever,” he says without daring to read her face.

“I get it—thanks—I still think it’s nice to hang out,” she rests a hand lightly on his shoulder. He turns towards her, forced to slow to a stop as his knees give way.

Her full lips ripen before him—the tight curls in her hair tangle his thoughts like heavy leaves of kelp in shallow water.

He steps towards the precipice between them—looking down from the cliff—making the choice whether to jump.

She turns and returns to sipping her coffee. The weight of the present moment in his chest pulls inwardly like it has its own gravity. The shoreline dissolves. The seagulls still ring in his ears.