/that/ time of year

Published by MJ on Jun 09, 2022


"Is everything in the car?" My dad calls from the front door. His glasses are low on his nose, making the bags under his eyes look even larger. He's wearing a burnt orange vest over a black t-shirt with khaki cargo shorts in true dad fashion. His shoulder length salt-and-pepper hair is up in a man bun. Usually I would cringe at his fashion choices, but I'm too tired to do so.

Another ear-splitting round a clicks chorus through the air. I pound my head against the nearest wall. My mom delivers a half-hearted lecture from the kitchen. Something about brain damage. 

"Kid? Is everything in the car?" My dad tries again, when I look back at him, his eye bags had grown heavier. Through the window, long strands of silk-like hair float in front of the sun. I would call them beautiful if the most painful, deafening, misery-inducing, wanna-make-me-hurl-myself-down-the-stairs sounds didn't come with.

"Yeah, yeah, I think so," I groan, dismissively waving my hand. "Mom's packing up the last of the food."

My dad nods and turns back to the car. I lug my three suitcases out, grunting irritably when the wheels knock together. My dad takes them from my hand and heaves them into the trunk with no effort at all whatsoever which is only mildly embarrassing. 

He grumbles something under his breath as he shifts some of the suitcases around to make room for the cooler. Something about how we should've gotten out of here before mating season. 

Another goddamn chorus of clicking weaves through the ear. My dad slams his head against the trunk. I feel the urge to sob. 

Don't get me wrong, the jopraos are gorgeous. They're beautiful creatures essential to the savannah ecosystem. When they're not searching for mates and making everybody within a 20-mile radius absolutely miserable, they're quite pleasant, really.

The jopraos are like kind neighbors who contribute generously to the neighborhood potluck and always hand out holiday cards to everyone on the block but forget to turn the noise down when having a garage party at three in the morning. Except that they're giant sky dragons who don't go to neighborhood potlucks and don't know what the holiday season is and they seem to enjoy tormenting others with the sound of their mating cries.

"Oh god, make it stop," I groan, smacking my hands over my ears as another cacophony of clicks and screeches grate on my eardrums. The bags beneath my dad's eyes look like they're from a designer store. 

My mom emerges from the house, hair frazzled and eye twitching. She looks ready to strangle a man. I glance at my dad: the only man in the area. He looks like he's mentally putting on his eggshell-walking-socks.

"We ready to go?" My mother asks, voice way too chipper for having to deal with the horny sky snake banshees.

"God, yes," I breathe, already clambering into the backseat. My pillow's back there. I instantly wrap it around my ears. 

By the time my dad locks up the door to my house and starts the car, there's already been three more joprao calls. I want to die. My mother wants to kill. My father would like to make it out of joprao territory in one piece.

The car rolls along. My makeshift earmuffs and my mother's loud choice of music is enough to mostly drown out the screams and clicks. They fade into the distance the farther we drive.

God, I hate joprao mating season.

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