Elijah took a small step forward; his legs were wobbling. Here he was, his first day of middle school. Kids were running and screaming, shoving past each other.
"Move nerd," an older kid shoved past him. The kid’s friends snickered, pushing past Elijah with twisted grins. People were pushing past everywhere.Bodies rubbed against his, and screams pierced his ears. It was too much. Elijah took one step back then quickly ran away. All he heard was the bell ring as he ran away sobbing. His heartbeat was coordinated with his feet as they hit the pavement. Tears ran down his cheeks as his feet followed the sidewalk, a pattern of turns and twists ingrained into his brain. He turned left and ran down a steep hill. He was going so fast. His heart skipped a beat, he was now tumbling down the hill. He stopped at the bottom, sobbing in a heap on the floor. He sat and cried for a few minutes until he heard a voice,
“Are you okay?” It was the voice of a small girl. He looked up, startled. There was nobody there. He looked to his left and his eyes locked on someone else's. It was a seagull.“Hello? Who’sthere? This isn’t funny!” he yelled, eyes scanning the beach. Nobody was there but him and the seagull. He turned to look at it, “You didn’t speak, right?” He felt crazy, talking to seagulls. The seagull stared at him for a moment before opening its beak,
“But I did! My name is SeaSalt!” The seagull spoke. She was quite small, a baby. Elijah stared at her in disbelief. He shook his head,
“No. Seagulls cannot talk. I’mgoing crazy. Shoo,” he waved SeaSalt away. She didn’tleave. Instead, she stepped closer to him and pecked at him, almost smiling. Elijah was confused at how a bird could smile but then he saw it was her eyes. They were so happy, smiling at him. He felt a strange comfort and decided to try talking to her, “I’m Elijah, but you can call me Eli. How can you talk?”She smiled with her eyes again, “Hello Eli! I do not know. How can you talk?” She stared deep into his eyes, waiting for a reply.
“I don’tknow. I just can talk, “He shrugged
“Same with me. Would you like to talk with me? You seem...” she trailed off for a second before continuing,, “You seem a bit troubled.”
“Well, I’m supposed to be at school right now. I couldn’t stay there anymore. I just feel so at home here, so safe.”“I also feel so at home here. Probably because this is my home. Would you like to come on an adventure with me? It could help calm you!” She jumped up and began to fly, soaring through the sky. Eli giggled as she swooped down and landed on his shoulder.
“Sure! But what do you have in mind?”“You’ll see.” and with that, she opened her beak and loudly called three times. They both paused for a moment. Eli could notbelieve his eyes. He swept his strawberry blonde hair out of his eyes to clear his vision. It was real. There were hundreds, thousands of seagulls soaring above them. In one big motion they all landed in perfect military rows.
“We are going to fly,” SeaSalt spoke, her eyes shimmering with a smile.“How?” Eli’s face contorted into a look of confusion, “Are you going to leave me?” Tears welled in his eyes.“No! You will see,” she laughed. Then, she called two shrill calls out to the other seagulls. Theyswarmed around Eli, startling him.“Relax. This will be fun!” SeaSalt joined the others in the sky. They all carried Eli into the air, his eyes filled with wonder. He, Eli Morrison, was flying. Better yet, he made a new friend.“What do you think? Fun?” SeaSalt grinned as they soared over the ocean. They swooped and soared for what felt like forever. He felt happy, he wanted to fly forever. “Uh oh,” Eli was brought back to reality when he saw the sun was setting into a blushing pink mixed with orange, it reminded Eli of the strawberry-banana smoothie he had for breakfast that morning. He was supposed to be picked up when school ended but he hadn’t even gone.. He quickly glanced at his watch, it was 6:03. He could see it now, his parents waiting for him at the bus stop, worried when he didn’t get off. That was hours ago. They were probably in hysterics.
SeaSalt was staring at Eli, her head tilted.. She knew what he was thinking and let out a loud shrill call. As soon as she closed her beak, all the seagulls began to gently glide Eli back to the beach. After a few minutes, his feet hit the sand. All the birds went back into their perfect lines, leaving SeaSalt to land on Eli’s shoulder.
“Would you like us to fly you home?” She spoke softly.
“I don’t think so. But you could walk with me!”
She nodded and let out a tiny squawk. The seagulls went their separate ways.Eli began walking silently home. His stomach twisted in worry; his parents were going to be furious. He spaced out until he realized he had reached his street. He slowly walked, it felt like trudging in molasses.He approached his house, stopping at the door. As he reached for the handle, SeaSalt flew away, eyes sparking. He had a feeling he would see her again soon.
He took a deep breath and opened the door, he saw his mom, she looked sick with worry.
“Mom! I’m so sorry. I got so nervous and-“. She pulled him into a huge hug, stopping his apology. His dad came from behind and joined in. Eli learned a lot today, he could do whatever he put his mind to, even fly. Better yet, he made a new friend.