I waited in a sliver of light at the tram stop to avoid meetings with tall dark strangers. I was only a short tram-ride away from lively Fitzroy but it was so silent that the crispness of the air actually stung my ears. It was broken only by the sound of passing cars, who flew past me in jolted flocks timed with the traffic lights just over the hill. I shivered because I had been out all day and one cannot accurately predict the bi-polar weather of Melbourne. So I had only my jumper. I pulled my arms inside and drew the collar up over my nose. I always see joggers doing quick little prances with their feet to keep their muscles warm while they wait to cross the road. So I did that too.
When I stopped – I won’t lie I’m pretty unfit – I heard the sound of a stranger approaching. He was on the other side of the road but I could still tell he was highly intoxicated. He stumbled along the dark path and turned a corner, cursing to himself and tripping over his own feet.
God some people are ridiculous.
I withdrew my head underneath my jumper to check my phone – eight minutes left. My phone is a pathetic HTC with so many mods, struggling on 18% because my brother is strongly against iPhone’s and refused to let me buy one. Ironically he owns a Macbook.
I saw a car approaching so I quickly popped my arms and head out of my jumper. I forgot how ridiculous I must look. And that’s when I noticed them. At first I thought they were birds, but as I kept staring I realised they were bats: thousands of them, flooding the sky in a rippling river of jagged wings and silence.
“Amazing, huh?” A tall dark stranger stood next to me. Jesus Christ! I thought, when did he get here? He had spoken with a thick accent that I couldn’t place.
“Yeah, until they shit on you.” Sometimes I am appalled by my frankness with strangers. But to my relief he just laughed.
“Would be quiet unfortunate, I think. I’ve lived here three years and never seen anything like this.”
“Huh. Where were you before?”
“My wife and I are from Venezuela. We grew up there, I ran my own business there, all of our family and friends live there. But one day we woke up and realised something wasn’t right. We just didn’t feel right, it wasn’t home, wasn’t the place to start a family.” He looked up at the bats, which continued to fly together, towards a destination that neither of us could see. “So we packed up and left. We didn’t know anyone in Melbourne, not a soul. And it was hard, at first. But we took a risk. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it. Don’t think too much, and do what instinct tells you.”
The tram rolled in front of us. I took one last glance up at the bats, and jumped on.