We stopped by the grocery store on the way home from school. We had pooled our money and bought the cheapest loaf of white bread we would find.
"My mother says white bread is no good for you."
"This isn't for you. Look, do you want to learn this or not?"
It was a skill that seemed like it would be useful at some point. Like, if I was ever stranded on some desert island, the ability to juggle a flock of seagulls would be the thing that would get me off the island. I'm not sure how, but a skill like seagull juggling HAD to be useful.
When we got to Marcy's house, we threw our books down in the front hall and went directly into the kitchen.
"Take the bread and tear the pieces up into fourths, like this," she said, taking the heel from the loaf and folding it twice, then tearing on the fold. "Then, mush the pieces up into a ball like this." She squeezed the bread in her fist, then rolled it between her two open palms into a damp beige pill. She had turned back time, making this piece of bread back into dough with her bare hands. And she was going to share the secret of seagull juggling with me.
It took us nearly an hour to do the whole loaf. Marcy had dumped the slices of bread onto the kitchen table, and we put the dough balls back into the bag as we rolled them. Once we were done, Marcy put the bag into her backpack, and we got on our bikes.
The beach is really close enough to walk, but it was hot and neither of us wanted to be wearing our itchy school uniforms longer than necessary.
We left our bikes on the boardwalk and walked out into the sand. Marcy took off her shoes and ran, kicking up sand behind her with her blackened feet. I kept mine on, the hot sand working its way into my sneakers and burning for just a second. By the time I caught up to her, she had already opened the bag and thrown the first of the doughballs at a clutch of seagulls about ten yards away.
As the ball hit the sand, a few of the birds flapped into the air in alarm. Marcy snapped into action. She took another ball of dough and threw it to one of the birds in the air, who caught it in her red-spotted beak. The minute the bird caught the dough ball, she flew into the air to enjoy her snack, and another flapped into the spot she had just vacated. Marcy threw another dough ball, a little higher so that the gull had to go up to catch it. Swoop. Throw. Catch. Swoop. Higher and higher, and with each throw more birds joined the line forming, until we had a revolving queue of about twenty of them, swooping into a spot about eight feet over our heads where Marcy was aiming the bread balls.
Into the heavens the dough flew, into the heavens where our faith that they would be caught meant that the birds would stay in formation, follow us if we moved, do our bidding as long as the manna flew into the air.
(X-posted to dailychronicles