You can hear her approaching, a stream of profanities following in her wake.
We meet by the pond in Central park.
She sits next to me, looking obviously distressed. Pauline is plagued, cursed, with having animals talk to her. They don’t understand when she talks back, but anyone within 100 feet of her can hear, and understand them.
I don’t come outside very often…you can probably hear why. I don’t even know how it started. I used to love animals. Always had a pet. I gave my dog away last year.
Every time a she hears a swear she flinches and blushes. A squirrel runs up and starts screaming at her, chittering out curse word after curse word.
It’s so embarrassing. What you’ve heard today is very tame compared to some of the words they yell.
Pauline has tried everything she can think of to make this stop. She’s seen doctors, vets, even spiritualists.
She had her dog for ten years, until one day it just started to yell at her, constantly. If she took it for walks it would bark about her bathroom habits and ex-boyfriends.
Wrinkled old lard amputee!
She bursts out laughing and shakes her head.
They do get pretty creative sometimes.
Birds dive around us, each screaming something terrible before they soar up and away.
She explains how the only animals she can stand now are fish. When they are under water. She’s heard them before, coming to the surface to yell at her.
Ducks from the pond begin to swim towards us.
It’s like she’s being catcalled every where she goes. The animals, coupled with the men on the street, make going outside dreaded.
She doesn’t sleep much. At night she can hear the possums and raccoons whisper to her through the windows.
She’s had her fill of the outside world and hurries off towards the subway, putting on her noise canceling headphones and trying to ignore the rats.
She runs down the stairs.
I hear birds calling after her. Squirrels throwing insults from the trees.
A stray dog barks.
A man in a truck yells something at her.
She’s gone and the animals have gone quiet again.