Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Agua. Agua.

When we left the house—let's say 8:30 or maybe a few minutes after—we were OK. Even down at the creek we were OK. And everybody wanted to talk about being out early, if 8:30 is early, to beat the heat. Hugh and his dog on the hill. The tennis-skirt fast-walkers in the park. Two older women in knee braces. They wanted to talk about the Toad, too, about his curls, about his pink cheeks. By the time we made the turn down there at the spot where the shade gives out, though, we were edged toward not being so altogether OK, and the dog was dragging, and I was dragging, and the Toad was throwing his water bottle on the ground and yelling agua! agua!, which seemed right, which seemed like at least a thing to yell, if not the thing. Back home the flowers in their pots were already looking bad. It was already too hot to stand in the sun. The porch already looked flattened in all the light. It was 9:15. The only outside I've seen since is the fifteen yards between the back steps and the shed, and it was already so hot that the only thing that made since with all this coffee was the watermelon I cut and refrigerated last night. Here is how I'm pushing back aganst these hotter days: with an idea, like a watermelon or a Tom Collins or the frozen yogurt place over on Lawndale, held out there for the five- or six-o'clock hour. Something to survive until.

The radio says 100 in Raleigh. The government, what's left of it, says an outside chance of something named Emily giving us some piece of some other idea altogether by late weekend. The Toad says agua, agua.

Today's fantasy, which is different from today's hold-on-until-evening idea, which has only a lime involved so far: that first morning—September, is it?—when I open the back door to let the dog out and it's almost crisp, and it smells different, smells less like this and more like that, and the next thing that stumbles through my head is that it'd be a right and noble thing to sit on the steps and drink my coffee there, instead of back inside.

For now I have only this, and TLK to thank for it: As the sun bakes its way across the front of my building, I now know what those ticks and pings are—it's the siding expanding in the sudden heat. TLK's got cedar on his folly, too, and told me recently over a quick patch of afternoon drywall and a cold beer in a can that he listens out for it in the mornings, the pop and snap of the building breathing. Now I do, too. And maybe it won't be a lime this afternoon, after all. Maybe a cold beer. Maybe a good new piece of information to go alongside. One more way to measure how we make it through the days, and with what degree of success.

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