Speak: Bats

Words by Dave Drayton

Pictures by Caitlin Fraser

Published on October 13, 2014


‘What are they?’
‘What are what?’
‘Those little things there, on either side of what we have said.’
‘Oh, these ones?’
‘Yes those.’
‘These dark little mistletoes?’
‘The mono-winged bats in profile?’
‘I suppose, yes.’
‘These floating, dripping periods?’
‘Yes those.’
‘Why, they are quotations marks.’
‘And what, pray tell, are they doing there?’
‘Well, in pairs, holding hands across these words, they show that we are talking.’
‘In pairs?’
‘Yes, in pairs. If one of these bats beats it’s lone wing alone it is an apostrophe. Did you see that one fly past?’
‘Yes, yes I saw it.’
‘It’s a marking of possessive case.’
‘There goes another! Is that all they do, these apostrophes, these solo bats?’
‘Not by a long stretch.’
‘What else do they do?’
‘They serve as a marking of the omission of one or more letters — as in the contraction of do not to don’t.
‘So they are also Os?’
‘They are Os and, conceivably, every other letter. By way of example: ””” ” ””” ”””’ ”” ” ‘ ”””, ”” ”””
””””” ” ‘ ””’ ””’; ””””’ ””” ””’ ” ””” ”
””’ ”” ”””’ ”” ”’ ””.’
‘What was that?’
‘I said: Unable to secure regular work as a dancer, Eric sought employment as a hills hoist; employing skills honed in ballet to flail damp laundry like the wind.’
‘Oh, I see. So: ” ””’ ”’ ”” ””’ ””.’

Dave Drayton was a poet, writer, theatre critic, Dr Pepper fanatic, and founding member of the Atterton Academy.

Caitlin Fraser is a 26-year-old student from Brisbane. She likes taking photos of her cat and the 5pm sunlight. See more of Caitlin’s work here.