Their voices buzz around her like the waves she can just see through the metal bars of the hotel balcony. She hunches into herself, picks at the butterhorn on her plate. It has raisins, which she hates, but also frosting, which she doesn’t hate at all. She tries to decide if she likes frosting more than she hates raisins.
The ocean is a cold, unfriendly color, and she shivers just looking at it. There is a bucket of clams at the end of the porch and she is not thinking about what will happen to them, the hot kiss of steam, the rude finger of the knife. She watches the gulls squabbling and fighting over the beach and thinks about how much she hates them, stupid birds, so greedy and impatient.
They shut the door behind her, but she can still hear them, words rattling against the glass like when the wasp got into the house and couldn’t get out again, head butting against the pane again and again, buzzing angry and dangerous. Later he’d gone out with a ladder and shot a long spray of something at the nest under the eaves. She watched the wasps crawl around in the wreckage, falling with little dry pocks when they died.
One of the gulls flies onto the balcony and stares at her. She screams at it to go away, she hates it, stupid dirty bird, keep screaming long after it flies away, keeps screaming till the door opens and they come out and carry her in to bed, whispering hush now, don’t worry, it’s gone, everything okay now, hush, hush.