She sat on the warm sand and looked out at the sea, the wind alternately caressing her skin and blustering her hair, as the sea breeze tends to do. She watched the sea birds wheeling through the sky or scurrying down the beach, attending to their birdly duties. Rose had a love-hate relationship with birds – notwithstanding the fact that birds neither loved nor hated her – inasmuch as she admired their grace and beauty, the ability to soar through the sky on their delicate wings, seemingly with not a care or worry except where that next morsel of food was coming from. Yet they also had this tendency to divebomb in a very threatening manner, and an eerie ability to poop on your head from up in the air before you even knew they were overhead.
She supposed this distrust of the creatures came from her having seen Alfred Hitchcock's “The Birds” at too young an age. But how could she have resisted that wonderfully compelling work of the master? The inadvertent viewing of that particular film was the origin of her lifelong love of horror stories. She remembered how she would stay up late into the night searching for something scary to watch on one of the three channels her parents' television could pick up, and feeling like she'd been richly rewarded when a gem like “Black Sunday” (the 1960 Mario Bava classic, not that crappy football story) or the original “Village of the Damned” came on the screen. She read as many of the great classic novelists and modern authors as she possibly could, from Poe and Lovecraft to King and Simmons and all the others in between.
Now, how had her thoughts managed to again wander all the way out into left field? She felt like that happened a lot these days. She would start off thinking of something important, a serious subject like taxes or what to prepare for dinner, and then before she knew it she was off on a flight of fancy or recalling memories from long ago that had absolutely nothing to do with whatever she had begun contemplating. Rose feared it was a symptom of some hidden mental disorder, a brain tumor just beginning to show signs of taking over her life. More likely it was just a sign of a lack of focus. One could never tell, though. She should probably go have her head x-rayed or have one of those MRI things or whatever they used these days. But that would mean having to deal with doctors; oh man, she just didn't want to go there. Doctors are too cautious these days so whatever they do it costs twice as much as it really should just to get them to finally get to the truth of the matter.
Or maybe she was simply avoiding having to think about what was really bothering her. Even sitting on this idyllic beach enjoying the soft weather and warm sun of this day couldn't really take away the sharp, nagging twinge of remorse she felt. It was no use trying not to think about her brother's death. Actively pushing it out of her mind only served to sharpen the hateful thoughts, the niggling pain of imagination. How had he felt in those last instants before the noose tightened? Had he at least felt the onset of peace or had it been just as painful as his entire life had been for him? How had he summoned the courage to toss himself off into the void like that?
Oh God, here I go again, she chided herself. Come on, Rose, get a grip! Tears trickled down her nose, leaked onto her blouse. She stood up and steeled herself. The water looked quite inviting but was actually bitingly cold. As it lapped over her toes, her thoughts began to wander again to the birds. She remembered a movie she had once seen in which the main character was trying to buy a house in Italy and was having no luck in her negotiations with the old woman who owned the property until a bird shat on her head, at which point the old woman laughed uproariously, declared it an omen of good luck and sold her the house. She thought to herself, “Okay, Rosie, old girl, if a bird craps on your head right now, you'll reconsider.” She stood waiting for the earthbound fecal matter to collide with her skull; one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi, five Mississippi... Oh, to hell with it.
When Rose's body washed up onto the shore, no one was there to collect her, to mourn her loss. Which is probably the way she would have preferred it to be.