Sounds or Songs

My roommates and I were waiting for the Purple Line at Howard. I don’t remember why we were going to Evanston; they never wanted to go to the movies as much as I did.

We were making that weird, slightly anxious small talk you make when you’re waiting for something and are afraid you’ll miss it, even though that’s unlikely – like when someone’s going to call your name for your takeout or coffee, or there’s trains coming and going and even though you’re probably not going to miss a big purple sign that says Linden, it’s the first time you’ve ventured north of Jarvis.

A sudden burst of bird sounds exploded from somewhere nearby, startling us with their chirps and cries. We lapsed into silence for a minute then started up again, replacing them with our own trills and warbles.

Then the bird sounds came back, a cacophony of squalls and cheeps seemingly louder than before. Yet there were no small, feathery bodies to be seen, or even droppings indicating avian life.

“There aren’t any birds,” I was good at stating the obvious.

My red-haired roommate’s face brightened – she had this. “No no, it’s a recording. They do it to keep the other birds away.”

And then the train conductor, who had been listening amused for who knows how long, was standing next to us.

“No, ladies. It’s a mating call.”