An Unlikely Seagull


© Alastair Forbes

Sixteen year old Jeff would do anything, even go to the zoo with his parents and brothers, rather than deal with Suzanna’s jealousy. He had to turn off the ringtone and vibrate features on his iPhone and block the SMS service so she couldn’t call or text him.

At first, he thought he was going to be bored, but all of the different animal exhibits were interesting and even fun.

He still couldn’t get his mind off of Suzanna, though. When they started dating, she seemed nice, if a bit strange, but now she was totally possessive. Lucky he had Jan to talk to, but if Suzanna ever found out…

There was a big crowd in front of him at the Seal exhibit, but he wanted a photo, so he held his phone over his head to get a picture.

“Hey!” Jeff felt a sudden jerk and looked up to see a large seagull flying away with his iPhone. Mom and Dad were going to kill him.

Suzanne landed behind the public restrooms at Ocean Beach near Sloat and then transformed back into a teenage girl. “Now we’ll see what you’ve been texting to that little slut Jan.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of April 8th, 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 198.

I must confess that I read Joy Pixley’s story Secret Salvos before crafting my tale, so I was probably influenced by it.

The object in the gull’s mouth looks kind of like a cell phone, though I doubt the bird could hold something so (relatively) heavy in its beak for very long. That means it couldn’t be an ordinary seagull, could it?

Way, way back in the day, like the late 1970s, I remember visiting the San Francisco Zoo (where my story is set) and I was about to feed a seal a piece of fish, holding it (the fish, not the seal) above my head, when I felt a sudden jerk and the fish was gone. A seagull had flown down and plucked it out of my hand. I let Suzanna do the same thing with Jeff’s phone.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to

Oh, I understand the host of this challenge has to let it go at the end of the month due to health problems. My schedule prevents me from having sufficient discretionary time to pick it up, but I hope someone else will.

20 thoughts on “An Unlikely Seagull

  1. In the film “The Proposal”, Sandra Bullock lost her cellphone to an owl as she tried to persuade the owl to drop a puppy it had seized and was about to carry off. Why an owl would make such a trade is quite beyond my understanding, but the scene was comical nonetheless. However, an owl is much stronger than a seagull, and this one grabbed the phone with its claws rather than its beak; so the capability of a seagull to hold one in its beak does seem questionable. But, if we’re going to suspend disbelief over a teenage shape-shifter, I suppose we can allow for it to grab and hold a cellphone with its beak long enough to reach a sheltered location and re-transform.


  2. Wow! I like this idea. But I’m thinking Jeff should get the heck away from Suzanna. Who knows if she can transform into something larger and more dangerous.


  3. It looks more like a cell phone than a letter to me, too — but then, I never said in my story what kind of paper the letter was written on, or how it was folded. 🙂

    I get the feeling I’m supposed to side with Jeff in this story, but I’m not sure I like any of them (ah, young love, makes us all idiots, I suppose). I’m more impressed with Suzanna’s creative approach to the problem. That said, I have never understood why people want to “fight for” the heart of someone who’s cheating on them — since that very behavior demonstrates that they’re not worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, they’re all teenagers, and so pretty immature. Besides, who said Jeff was cheating on Suzanna? He’s talking to Jan, which may be just talking to a female friend trying to understand why his girlfriend is acting so clingy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like this James. A bit different from what I have read of yours in the past but just as entertaining. As a former teenage girl, I admit that there were times I wished I could transform into another form to find out what was going on with my “crush”. Well done!


    • Now, I really must protest, on behalf of shape-shifters everywhere, that such behavior is not necessarily connected in any way with witchcraft. James did not even hint, anywhere in his admittedly very brief story, that Suzanna was a witch. While he did mention in one of his replies the notion of “magic”, that also is not synonymous with witchcraft. James has written about numerous magical characters that are not at all to be confused with witches. The girl’s jealousy might qualify viewing her as just a bit “b**chy”, to use a similarly non-literal colloquial description, but let’s not be jumping to unwarranted presumptions. [:p]


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