Speaking of foxes and my shitty violin playing, let me tell you about how I learned that foxes make horrendous noise.
When I moved to Glasgow, I gave myself three full days to find a flat, thinking I could spend the first searching through listings and setting appointments, and the second going to viewings and choosing a place.
I was so wrong.
I’m sure I could have found a flat in three days during the off season, but in the heart of September, when all the students were moving in for the year? Forget it.
I spent my days at the beautiful Mitchell Library (free WiFi!) sifting through flats online, compiling giant lists of places to call, and then calling them, only to find that every flat I was interested in was taken already. I tried my best not to panic, but let’s face it: I panicked. I had to extend my stay at the guesthouse by another few days. I kept searching. And panicking.
So when I found my first flat, I snapped it up at the viewing. It was the first place I actually even got a viewing for, and it was beautiful. Cozy, homey, and it had really large rooms, despite its small size overall. (Little did I know at the time that my “Cozy Flat” would quickly become my “Nightmare Flat.”)
SIDENOTE: I just Googled my old address and managed to find a teeny photo of my first flat. Well, the building, anyway.
There weren’t many things about this flat that I’d call “good” things, but there were a couple. The first was that it had been lived in before, which meant it had lots of nice furniture and it felt really homey. (My second flat – which was a dream, don’t get me wrong – was very bare because it had just been gutted and rebuilt, and of course, I didn’t buy furniture…) The second bonus of this flat was that it was in an area that still had lots of greenery. Just behind my building was a nice space with loads of natural trees and shrubbery.
The major downside – I mean, not including the sickness-inducing mould – was that the flat was on the ground level. Yes, that does have its perks (no walking up a bajillion stairs with heavy groceries!), but it also has disadvantages (people walking by the bathroom while I’m showering, walking by the bedroom while I’m trying to sleep, etc.).
Trying to sleep.
I had a hard time sleeping for the first week or two at my new flat. I mean, I had just moved halfway across the world and was living by myself for the first time ever, so there was that, but it was also a little unnerving being so unaware of my surroundings. I hadn’t met any of my neighbours, I didn’t know anything about my neighbourhood, hell, I didn’t really know much about the city I was living in.
The first couple nights, I would be thisclose to sleep, only to be startled into consciousness by the sounds of a group of people having a conversation at the parking stalls just outside my bedroom window or something. I hated knowing that they were standing right there, and I hated that I could hear everything.
On my third or fourth night, it was finally quiet enough for me to fall into a deep, blissful sleep. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, because at around 2am, I was awoken by some of the scariest sounds I had ever heard.
The best way I can describe it is to say that it sounded like a newborn baby screaming in pain, as if it were being murdered or something.
It’s a totally gruesome thought, I know, but it was awful. My eyes shot open. I stared into the darkness of my bedroom, trying to place the noise. Was it coming from my upstairs neighbour? No, it sounded further away.
Oh shit, I thought to myself, it’s coming from the mini forest area…
My crazy imagination immediately started putting together a story of a woman who had been kidnapped, dragged out to the woods, and brutally murdered during my first week at my new flat. Then it went even further and started to create a murderer who was not just human, but a monster-man, like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Then it went just a couple steps further and deduced that for some reason, the murderer would know where I was and make me his next target.
Within five minutes, I had decided that there was a murderer standing just outside my bedroom window. At ground level. Right there.
Way to go, Andrea. Way to go.
But the horrible screaming hadn’t stopped, so I couldn’t just pull the blankets over my head and ignore my fear. I was genuinely worried that something terrifying was going on just outside my flat. I knew that I would have to look. I had to, because if something terrifying was happening, I had to call the cops.
I stood up and approached my window, certain that when I peeled a couple slats of the blinds apart, I would be staring directly at this:
I took a deep breath and went for it.
I saw nothing.
I heard the screams, but there was nobody there.
The fact that none of my neighbours were standing outside freaking out calmed my nerves a little. Also, I was definitely too afraid to investigate on my own. So I crawled back into bed, pulled the blankets over my head, and tried to shake the idea that the murderer had already somehow gotten into my flat and was hiding in my closet out of my mind.
Eventually I fell asleep.
I was scared of my flat for like, a week until one of my classmates casually mentioned how awful the foxes sound during a conversation over lunch one day.
“Does it sound like a baby being murdered?” I asked casually (see: hoping no one would notice that I was shaky from lack of sleep and an overactive imagination).
“Yes, actually – that’s a good way of putting it.”
Not what you’d expect from these little guys.
I would have a week or so of peaceful sleep, until I started to get incredibly ill from mould exposure.