Friday 500 – The Ice Cream

Hot day, crowded beach, noisy queue.

It was raspberry ripple and it had a waffle cone and a short, flaky chunk of chocolate peeking out. On the side of the van and in the hand of the ice cream seller it looked delicious. On the ground it was waxy and waning, one milky lump sliding over stony concrete. A melted dream with half a story.

Grieved over, yes; loudly perhaps, but kicked aside and trodden on by a distracted few (others laughed, not all of them discreetly). Shards and lumps, trickling and tickling the ground.

Kev blinked and looked to his right. Now was not a moment to hesitate. Now was a moment to act. Now, to circle, drop, bite! Pushing the world away from the bottom of his feet, Kev rose and swallowed.

Cold moment, empty sky, noisy amusements.

Out of the haze of the sea and over the noise of the sticky children Kev turned a wide arc, looking to spot who else was about. No blinkers, no criers, except lined up on a wall looking guilty. He was in no mood for sharing; Kev understood those smaller children he regularly saw who hated having to give away any of their much-wanted treats. That was his law too. Finders, eaters.

Finding more courage in his hungry belly and glaring at the boy who had just kicked at the remains, Kev dropped down, shrugging and tugging as he landed. The pecking was not easy in this busy space. People drew around and he had to dance out of the way. Then his brother landed and screamed at him. Other brothers and sisters were above him. Kev retrieved the largest piece of waffle, his favourite move among siblings and lifted quickly, knowing he would be followed. Let them. He had it. Ha! He laughed back at them and dropped the crunchy cone in a mad moment of forgetfulness.

It fell, dropping on to the top of a hut of people. Others got there first. Kev screamed at them, flapping and beaking his way in through the feathers. Too late today. No top bill. His pride had cost him and he preened his wing and shook his head.

The sky was no longer empty, but the noise of the beach reached his head at the same moment that the cold hit it. Every time this ice cream mistake. Let the others take what they could find. Kev needed a quiet place to get his head back again. He lifted again and blinked. Looking right, there, just on the side of the path was a newly-lost chip. A toddler was approaching it. Kev was close enough; he screamed. The child was lifted by a parent and chided. The chip too was lifted, up into the blue, up away from the noise, away from the crowds and the gulls, away from the cold water and hot tempers. This time he would not laugh, but inside a smile warmed him.


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