It shouldn’t be this easy to break into a house. I hold the ladder and my brother climbs, new shirt bright against tawny shingles. He stands on the roof, scans the driveway, disappears over the other side. Quietly pops out the screen, drags up the window, climbs over the bedside table. I wait for him to open the front door.
The last time my dad broke in, he took a key to the bathroom screen. It still flaps in heavy wind. We’ve evolved since then. Scaling the magnolia, the metal railings on the porch, the fence my grandfather built. In the back of the second-floor closet hides a small, latched door to the attic. I imagine pushing boxes aside, holding my breath in the attic’s heavy heat. He’s got a bad habit of leaving the screen on the roof, my brother. I can see where he’s been.
Pain splits on the sidewalk. I wear two pairs of pants and icicles line the metal rooftops. Lest we forget, an all-uppercase sign warns to Look Up: Five Impaled Pedestrians in 2010. And they’re mesmerizing, these glittering stalactites. Twisting against the cool sky. When the men in my nightmares chase me through my backyard, their knives are not this beautiful.
On the roof, a man hacks with a shovel at the buildup. Vot! My mom sees him. Igor toils another day. His movements are heavy with resolve; there will be more icicles come morning. Ahead, they hit the street and scatter, loose Cheerios on the kitchen floor. I adjust my hat.
I hear things now, vibrations deep in my skull. Across the courtyard, leaves tumble from the gutters and a man with headphones stands on the roof, leaf blower in hand. Its drone bounces around the doorframe, the room, my pillow. Asymmetric cacophony, that daily MRI. The neighborhood church wavers in my window.
I mowed our lawn mid-afternoon in May once, opening the front door to greet a wall of humidity. Drank water too fast, left woozy from the exhaust fumes over broken grass. Easier without the sun. Here, come winter, the man will put the leaf blower away. The rumble will slip out of memory and giddy will be the rake in the church shed. It feels like this to take the headphones off.