August

It’s August, and my grandmother comes. At this point there is little celebration at her arrival and less regret at her departure; each visit is simply treated as a continuation of her last, and her absence is regarded in the same manner as a weekend away, or even a day spent in town: temporary, and insignificant. I suppose this is something we will regret one day, when even a few hours with this woman would be cherished above all the world.

I sit on the floor of the garage, our car backed out into the driveway. A record player sits on our wooden TV tray, its cliche digging into me, but not to the point where I remove it. Something warm hums through the speakers, but I don’t suppose the quality is better in analog than digital. Dust is sticking to my back, and my toe has been bitten by something. I slap it with my other foot.

The driveway is littered with spent confetti, still eternally mylar, and unpopped kernels. There are dents from the ax.

No one has bothered to play ping-pong in a long time. The table is covered in paints and a single t-shirt, copper wire and a pack of nails. Under it is a spent go-kart, its gas tank removed. The kart and the tank are someone else’s responsibility.

I flick the lighter on and off and hold it against the concrete bricks of the wall to see if they char, but they don’t. I consider testing the sheetrock, but catch myself. Instead, I step outside the screen door and sit on the newly wet grass, feet holding the propane torch in some contortion of the butterfly stretch. I hold the lighter with my right hand and ease the propane valve open with my left. The torch hisses, then roars, and feels infinitely more powerful than the lighter. I throw the lighter at the screen.

I have left my phone somewhere else again. I circle the downstairs looking for it before i descend on the staircase. I have propped it against the back of a post. The notification screen is littered with a smattering of messages, most links to reddit. I ignore most of them.

I dream about cities, then trains, then the millennium falcon. All of my dreams make me feel like I’m chasing something, but losing it. It’s stressful, and yet everything has a lucid aspect to it, but my conscious is not fully in control. Rather, the voice that says “It would suck if…” holds final sway, and the falcon is caught in some tractor beam.

I sit in the chapel. I hate my skirt. It is ugly, or maybe it’s all me. I have the original copies of the bulletin, because no one else knows how to use the copy machine. Someone put a sticky note on it that says, “put papers in FACE UP” and someone else, in tiny scrawl, has added “ONLY WHEN USING THE FEEDER.” This makes me smirk, especially when I find a pile of mostly blank sheets, specked only by the dots of ink the copier makes while scanning the empty back of a sheet of paper.

I check my email. It is empty, except for eBay. We have six packages arriving in the next week, mostly because free shipping is slow. I check my phone again, but don’t follow up on any of the links. One word answers, the blue thumb, nothing changes.

Forty pushups later, I hit the dusty floor. It seems I have won something, though this is always a losing battle. I beat the boys (just barely) until they get competitive and start with preliminary training. Then, months of work on my part are essentially insignificant, so its these early victories I live for.

I am not used to riding these on brick. Still, everything is mostly flat, and I skid back and forth and back and forth and have been practicing this art for weeks. It’s big in China. I’m wearing mostly black, less as a conscious choice and more because I did not plan my packing well. Still, I match and am wearing a well branded shirt. I cruise by longboarders, trying to look chill but barely staying upright. My back and forth swish drive swoosh must look smooth, though, because they exclaim to themselves. I am riding well, and I am doing it first.

Rain on the roof is inaudible from the first floor, but from the basement you can hear it hit the ground. I stand behind the glass, and the screen, and the leaves are green and I don’t run through the woods like I used to, maybe because they scare me more. It is hard to be scared when you are young and do not grasp the power of what those trees shelter. Maybe I should go out and run again.

We have boxes in the basement and I fill one, then the other, and this is all. I put my bike in the car and walk out, for the last time. Maybe I will come back, but generally I try to avoid old houses, places where I once lived. Still, of all the places I’ve inhabited, this one has a strange magnetism, a pull unlike I’ve ever known. Maybe I will come see the town again. I look at the house. I never entirely lived there anyways.