Porch wind on terra cotta chimes.

It's like a song you know and don't, something that sounds familiar in a shared consciousness kind of way, something you heard on a radio once in a car going somewhere and felt like you should know the words to instead of merely recognizing. It's the sound of a tenth grade summer, the summer you realized that you were too mature for afternoons spent running through the sprinkler but that the age restrictions could be lifted by doing it slowly, fully clothed and smoking a cigarette - if you looked cool enough while you did it you might as well be undertaking some hideously serious activity like dusting for prints.

You were the youngest grandkid, and you know what that means, now. After you, your grandparents are allowed to age. They're allowed to creak and groan a bit, to turn in when the sun's still up in the summer. They're all for visits and talk, but you do it in the parlor, now, the room that was always too serious for your tastes, all matching furniture and unnatural light. As a kid you avoided this room like the plague, knew that the carpet wasn't suited for model trains and that the stone around the fireplace was always too cold on your bare feet. It was intimidating - this was where the adults played cards while you were in the yard, trying to wrap your little body around the hose, the mother of all water cannons.

The chimes were part of a subtle theme, a southwestern flair that highlighted the parts of the house that were staked out as grandma territory. You heard them down the block and suddenly felt sand beneath your feet and saw the stratified mountains of Arizona shimmering on the surface of the neighbor's pool. They called you home to lemonade and toasted marshmallows and spaghetti that had had the life boiled out of it like it was a trichanosis carrier. You always came back to the random tinkling of breeze on pottery on metal, to the tinny sound of unmitigated chaos bouncing off of four clapboard walls. No words to remember, no melodies to hum along to in the car as you head for some dilapidated diner full of anonymous grifters and last call truck-stop beauty queens. It floats in the back of your head, the promise of a weekend filled with nothing that matters but people and people-things.

You hear them sometimes, drifting low, echoing from concrete to steel. They laugh at you, and you let them.

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