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Sundays are always sunny and clear. Mornings are crisp, and fresh. Afternoons were dusty, smoky, and noisy.

On our left the house next door is busy and full of people, every size, every age, and every attitude.

There are the teenagers who never seem to have anything else to do, but lean up against an old pick-up truck in front of their house. The rest of their cars end up down the street and in our driveway. We always say that they must be the drop-out kind. Well, at least that’s what we think. Every once in a while we found them puffing out their fumes of disobedience from the small rolls of smoking paper, twisting between their fingers in a bored kind of amusement.

Then there are the men who are old enough to have their hair starting to grey, but not quite. For them, every morning and day it is fixing the motorcycle in the garage. They tinker, rumble, and shift gears on that same old motorcycle. Once in a while we could hear one of them ride it. Roaring down the roads in a dirty black helmet worn by years of use. There was a never a time when they didn’t have the motorcycle, but the funny thing was, they haven’t quite fixed it yet.
The other lady who lived there was fierce and hot to the touch. We heard her voice shrill with anger screaming at the loud barking dogs. At the old grandmother, if she was a grandmother, who lived there too. Every day we could hear the fighting and yelling that never ended. She always made me think, “Would I be the same?” I wondered if I would fight my parents and refuse to help until it was too late.

The motorcycle men were the same men who made the Sunday afternoons noisy. Every week for hours at a time they would come to play in their garage band. Singing, drumming, strumming, crashing on their strings and drums. They sang old songs from a time I didn’t know much about. What were they singing? Were they sad too and had to release their emotions with the beat of a drum? How upset were they that they had to hide their pain with a music that was as lost as themselves?

The teens, the men, the woman, they weren’t there before. There was a time when there was just a couple, crinkled with age. The grandmother, if she was a grandmother, had her creamy white hair in a small cloud. Her smile would be bright when she spoke to us.

But then one day the ambulance, the fire truck, the police cruiser, and all help possible arrived. Her husband, the grandfather, fell and couldn’t get up. He never did. The grandmother, and who knew if she was a grandmother, had to live alone with all those dogs as her only comfort, though that didn’t last long.

Isn’t that house to small for them, my father would say. When will they leave and stop making trouble, my mother asked. But we all knew the answer. They would never go. Families do that. They’ll always come back together like old puzzle pieces, even if they are only to shatter again. They would stay with the old grandmother, who might have never been a grandmother at all.

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