Forty Minute Story (“Mowing”)

REMINDER: I’ll be posting the compiled story of “Baby You Just Got Slapped” on Friday at 12pm. If you haven’t already, consider continuing the story in the comments section. Thanks!


Scott flipped the covers off the bed, sitting up in the same fluid motion. His skin was damp as he threw on boxers and an undershirt. He had feigned illness for this rare opportunity, working up a sweat by doing some quiet push-ups next to the bed. Everyone in the house and in fact the whole street would be in the community meeting hall for at least the next 45 minutes. Plenty of time.

With no one else around Scott didn’t bother with the rest of an outfit, stopping only to slip on an old pair of tennis shoes before running out the door toward the garage. Leaning down he grabbed the base of the garage door and pulled upward, revealing the disheveled contents within. The few tools he used regularly, the shovel and garden sheers were within easy reach, but his goal was further back, under a dingy green tarp that almost blended in with the surrounding deitrus.

He flipped the tarp back as eagerly as he had his bedsheets, revealing his pride and joy, the LawnCo self-propelled mulching lawnmower. He used to have a riding mower, but he had to get rid of it when the new laws had taken effect, but he had at least managed to save this gem. He wheeled it out of the garage as quickly as he dared, knocking over the shovels and a couple of rakes as he pushed it through the narrow walkway. He’d polished the chrome finish and changed the spark plugs in anticipation of this opportunity, but he wasn’t sure if it would even start up until he gave the pull cord a third yank.

The LawnCo roared to live, drinking hungrily of the crude he’d been able to siphon through weeks of effort. The blade met the fertile edge of the lawn and sent green mist shooting in all directions. Scott revelled in the smell, the blend of burning fuel and freshly cut grass, having to remind himself to press forward if he was ever going to get the back done in time.

The reel lawnmower he’d been forced to use for the last six years was quiet, only the soft turning of blades like the wheels on a bicycle. His LawnCo on the other hand was fierce, its roar echoing off the house, and drowning out everything around it. It was a sound he had first remembered from his youth, his Dad waking up early in the morning to beat the heat. The neighbors had found such behavior inconsiderate, but Scott has always loved being woken up by that sound, and was equally proud when his father had finally trusted the upkeep of the lawn to him.

This was a real lawnmower, not some flimsy kid’s toy. It had rained the past two evenings and the grass must have grown two inches in that time. The reel mower would have taken hours to get an imperfect cut, but his LawnCo had already reduced half the lawn to perfect order in fifteen minutes.

Back and forth he walked, his mind easing for the first time in years as the roar of the engine blocked out the world. The biking to work, the hand raking of leaves and the slow mowing of grass all washed away in that nostalgic hum.

It wasn’t until his last pass that he saw them, the whole neighborhood running toward the back fence. The LawnCo’s voice had drowned out the dozens of footsteps and shouts for him to stop. He’d known they would come of course. Fuel was too precious a thing to waste on maintaining a yard. There would be fines, possibly jail time, and of course the confiscation and destruction of his precious LawnCo. As the crowd descended on him, Scott looked over the perfectly trimmed rows and smiled.

The lawn was glorious.


Filed under Short Stories

2 responses to “Forty Minute Story (“Mowing”)

  1. Nice! All those hours of practice have paid off. Your writing has really improved a lot, even since your Surreality days. I love the simplicity and the specific details.

    Although, since I work for an oil company, I’m compelled to point out that putting crude oil into your lawn mower would *not* lead to a cut lawn – or much of anything, I’m guessing, except for black smoke. You’re welcome. 😉

    • Ha ha, yeah. Ought to change that at some point. Writing these shorts has given me an opportunity to just play with some ideas, and that has been both fun and formative. Now the trick is applying this style to the long form narrative. I really enjoy your shorts as well. I don’t know if you borrowed “40 minute story” from anywhere, but I definitely lifted it from you.

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