Keeping Time

Evening begins saying its goodbye to afternoon. I should have begun dinner long ago, but I can’t help myself. I want to savor some moments sitting in the backyard. It’s warm. Summer is not going anywhere. The humid air clings to me like melting taffy. But I want it because I know it’s almost gone.

The dog and I are listening to the clamor of the high school band trying to make sense of  the directions bellowing from the loudspeaker. Justin isn’t keeping time and now everyone knows it. I’ve not desired to listen to this ruckus. It’s been forced upon me as the practice field sits practically in the lap of my backyard. The only things separating us are a flimsy fence and a line of lush green trees.

I always hear it, the madness, the shuffling, but I only see glimpses of the chaos. I don’t know what the face behind the bellowing looks like. And I only see flashes of brass instruments. There are streaks of yellow, flags being thrown hither and yon by the color guard.

In the background, in my nightmares, the incessant beat of the metronome keeps time. I wonder if they have grown to hate it as much as I have over this long, hot, sweltering summer.

And shrill horns, beating drums, the tinkling of the xylophone, instruction, correction, chatter. Over and over and over. And always the metronome keeps time.

They’ve improved over the summer. I was there for their first day. Pleasantries over the loudspeaker. This year is going to be great. Then, the inevitable disappointments and frustrations. Justin’s not keeping time.

And always hot. Those poor kids baking, sweltering, shriveling in the southern summer heat. The metronome never stopping. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The days were getting hotter and longer. Time always ticking on. I’m sure back then no one ever wished for fall more than they did.

Recently we’ve had a couple of mornings that were chilly and damp. The kind that surprised me, delighted me, teased me. Mornings when I was forced to wrap my arms around myself to fend off the cold. The kind that reminded me I’ll need a new pair of gloves soon. Maybe I should wash those few sweaters sitting at the bottom of the heap in the laundry room, the ones I peeled off my body sometime in April. The ones I wore when I was aching for longer days, longing for warmth.

But now, right now, I sit in the backyard soaking up the last days of summer and dreaming of what’s to come. I catch the glimpses of action through the thick, lush trees. I hear the music, loud and building. I close my eyes to feel it, somber and falling. Falling like the leaves soon will. I feel them crunching beneath my feet.

The metronome keeps time. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Soon, brilliant hues of gold and red will replace the green, decorate my life. Then, they’ll fall. Rain down like floating rubies and flakes of gold. By then, I’m sure, Justin will be keeping time.

And I’m ready. I’m ready for change, a respite from the unrelenting heat. I’m ready to need an extra layer. I’m ready for darkness to close in earlier and earlier. I’m ready for fire roasting marshmallows. I’m ready for fall. I’m ready for the incessant marching of time.


*This post inspired by Gin & Lemonade’s weekly prompt. This week’s prompt was sepia-toned fall memory

*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay