The woman is fishing around in a rubbish bin on the edge of a large empty square. The sun shines and a thin sea of faceless people wash back and forth behind her. She takes out boxes and paper bags, poking around for leftover takeaway and half eaten sandwiches.
As she does so a crowd of seagulls thicken around her. They wobble closer and closer, firing loud high-pitched screams in her direction. Occasionally she flails out at them, yelling in some indecipherable language, but inevitable they inch only marginally backwards, their numbers growing ever larger. They strain their necks and lean over so close that they must be able to smell her.
At first I wonder maybe if they’ve somehow felt the weight of ambivalence surrounding this exhausted woman – if they have come to the horrible realisation that perhaps she’s there for the taking. I imagine a city in which gulls and squirrels and foxes and stray cats have finally realised which tattered figures they can pick off one by one – in alleyways and underpasses or the doorways of department stores. Midnight raids on park benches, a fury of feathers and squawking and all that’s left is an old back pack smelling of piss and a broken shopping trolley. And all the while everyone else turning a blind eye, a convenient solution to an unsightly problem.
And then just as she’s about to leave she tosses them some scraps that even she wouldn’t eat and they descend on them screeching their satisfaction.
She is with them, and they are with her.