Air comes through the window, flowing haphazardly through the house because gases will always equalize pressure in any container, and the house is a container like any other. The gases do their thing, which is to expand and whirl, molecules clanging off each other and heating up throughout the house, rising and cooling and failing back towards the world and repeating.

All the din is because the windows are open—bottle rockets whining through the night en route to nothing, proving something to the day, Lucia supposes. A bottle breaking sound; “Shit yeah!” shouted loud. It’s night and it’s hard to see outside with the light on, so Lucia keeps it off, at least in the front window through which she’s looking. The windows are open to allow more air circulation through the top floor of the house via an elaborate fan system, all plugged into one surge protector, plugged thereafter into a clapper mechanism, the kind she once saw advertised on television that switches on and off in response to the sound of human hands clapping. Unfortu- nately, whenever two bottle rockets go off close to one another, the system shuts off, or comes on, and the electrical surge dims the rest of the house lights momentarily and you can see the surge even from outside. When this happens, Lucia thinks she can even see the slight glow of the street- lights dim and return. Periodically she fears that the douchebags have figured out the clapper mechanism and that they time their rockets to go off together to make the lights sway off and on in her house. She adjusts the timing on the mechanism so that they must readjust. This is a game of breaking codes: her against the neighborhood.

When the air moves around her body, Lucia is cool enough that she can stand it, but when the fans switch off it is another story. And the system goes on and off as flying objects trail through the night and explode. In this way she has ceded control to the douchebags. She will not, however, give up her system.



(Originally published in The Harvard Review.)