Pipistrello (bat, in Italian)

This story first appeared in the Round Robin magazine, issue Nov-Dec 2020, published by the American Women’s Club of Zurich. Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash.

In Milano, we lived in an apartment with a big, handsome salotto (living room, italian). With just a dining table and a piano, it seemed huge. The echo bounced off the ivory walls. Its 12-feet French doors let the hot Italian sun in. Not only the sun. Also bats.

The first one came in with the morning air. A velvety form flew in and landed in my son’s shoes near the door. A bird? A butterfly? 

“Mom, I have never seen a bat! Is she cute?”

She sat there, screeching her nasty teeth and squinting her ugly little eyes. This evil creature grinned at me, unfolded her bony wings, and took off. 

I did not sense adventure. After all, with keen eyes and sensitive ears, bats will quickly find their way out! Chased by a black umbrella, she was winding circles, making clicking noises, and spitting on the walls. She terrorized us for an hour, and finally, exhausted, cocooned in the corner. We were sweaty, tired, and angry.

I turned to the almighty Internet, a panacea for every struggle. The advice ranged from:  

“Catch the bat and put her in the fridge, she likes the cold” to “Call 911, you are in grave danger.” 

Standing on a ladder, my mother grabbed this tired soft creature with a towel and released her from the balcony. It was over. We breathed out, bleached ourselves and the walls, and called everyone to share the story.

When the bat returned the next day, I felt betrayed. I was not looking forward to bleaching the walls again. 

The following day brought in yet another bat. A new chick!  

“Look, her fangs are different! A baby!”

We let the last bat out, insulated and hammered down all the window cracks hoping for no more flying guests. Every spring, we checked the shutters in case the bats had nested there again, but they were gone.

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