Last night I was standing on my doorstep, looking out at the road where I live.

I was watching the sun sink behind the grey towers of Manhattan and running my finger across a blister on my hand.

As I stood and gazed a small movement caught my eye. A large grey rat scuttled across the steps in front of me. My heart tightened for a second and I thought I felt little tiny claws brush my ankles.

I watched as the rat stopped at the foot of a large black plastic bin bag. The sky was getting dark, like a bruise.

The rat found a hole and pushed itself in. I saw the bag judder and settle as the rat made its way inside. I tried to stop picturing it nestling down within the stinking contents, but I couldn’t.

A bigger, uglier rat appeared. It had bits of fur missing from its back. It dragged one foot slightly. It made its way purposefully towards the black bin bag.

I turned away. When I turned back the bigger rat had disappeared.

The bag began to shake. I could hear little screams of dismay echoing off the steel steps and the brick walls as the rats encountered each other.

There is no place you can truly be alone in New York.

I couldn’t see the rats run away, it was too dark. But I could hear their squeaks and gnawings as they disappeared together into the night.

I pictured them: cowering by day, brave by night. Forced by the city into fearful partnership against walls of rancid slimy metal, and towering mounds of black, suffocating plastic, and us. image


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