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Photo owned and copyrighted by Katie Johnson. Photo credit: https://katierenejohnson.com/

The city had a certain kind of beat. The pounding of the cement crusher on the corner beat counter to the horns honking at the road construction. The flag high overhead tapped occasionally as the wind added a bell to the orchestral cacophony.

“Ugh.” Mark tripped over the curb, pressing his large hand on the oversized handrail. “I hate the smells of the city.”

Rikki didn’t even notice the smells. His soul was filled with the music.

A woman hailed a taxi on the eighth beat of the measure. A car honked on the second of the next. Mark’s hard-tipped shoe double tapped in a quarter beat on three. And flag rang out on four, all with the ra-ka-ka-ka-ka of the concrete breaker, or whatever the thing was called.

“Dude.” Mark jerked Rikki out of traffic and onto the sidewalk.

The wind of the bumper that almost hit Rikki kissed his bare knees. He hopped behind the pedestrian barrier with a laugh. The music of the city sang to his soul, filling him with energy.

“I thought you said you wanted to see the bridge.” Mark shoved his hands into his blazer and scrunched his shoulders up to his ears, his expression dry with displeasure. His dark hair flopped into his face as the wind whipped it around.

The flag pole rope clanged against the pole again, but Rikki’s attention had been pulled away from the tempo long enough that he wasn’t sure what measure they were even on anymore.

One of the construction workers moved a bright, orange cone and it dropped to the pavement with a countering ba-ba-bump.

Car horn honked at four.

Geeze. The music he could create here. Rikki took his drumsticks out of his pocket and beat them against the concrete barrier as he followed Mark toward the middle of the bridge. This—this was living.

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