Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The £800 mower



For no reason at all it seemed he pushed the lever into neutral, then when the machine was finally at rest and enveloped in the scent of freshly cut grass and petrol, he rested a moment where he was. To his left a bank swept upwards; crowned by a light defensive line of brambles and beyond that darkening thickets of young willow herb plants beginning their journey towards the light.

With his long, easy-limbed strides, fuelled by youthful zest, he crested the top of the bank easily, breathing steadily with barely a tingle in his muscles from the exertion. Below him now the lawn swept away in a vain, but grand gesture of defiance, then his eye could sweep on out over the ancient spread of the cedar: out into space unrestricted by any way or mark, only perhaps a passing bird skittering across the line of sight. Further out the smudged line of the far side of the valley, then just the sky, clouds coming and going, dissolution and reformation, and space and time beyond imagination.

From his pocket he drew a crumpled plastic packet of tobacco. Fishing inside he withdrew a packet of thin rolling papers, his favourite brand for no reason other than the sky blue of the packet. They looked neat, efficient and orderly to him. At least whilst the packet was brand new, as within days the cardboard would be shredded meticulously small square bite by small square bite, to be tightly rolled up as a filter. With the cigarette now well alight he squatted on the top of the bank, eyes lost in smoke and the infinity of space.

As his attention came back into the world he was hunkered down in, he found himself staring down at the mower, standing alone to face the sea of un-mown grass, it’s motor stilled, the machine immobile, waiting upon his command. It looked beautiful to him. Beautiful in a way he had never perceived beauty before; even as he was registering his own sense of surprise at this, images of Kat swept into his mind. Kat in the flowering of her adolesence when he had first come to meet her; Kat full and gloriously pregnant as she had been just a few weeks ago; the angry Kat when they had discussed the money for the mower. Not just some of what they had, nearly all of it.

‘You are part of the family now. So you’d better work, buddy’, he muttered to no one in particular as he pressed the shiny starter button, and the grass become his universe once more.

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