Friday, June 19, 2009

A Short Story Where Nothing Happens

"Your life", she said, her voice heavy with concern, "is that lawn."
Arthur laughed to himself. Her statement hurt a little, was demonstrably untrue, yet he could see it as an allegory for his belief on Life.
A man will work on and care for a lawn with commitment and devotion, even love. Keep it fed, watered, and trimmed. Walk its perimeter looking for encroaching weeds. Trod its surface watchful for the brown patch that announces the arrival of a fungus, a cricket mole, or a disease. Keep clean, sharp, and well-oiled the tools, ready for their tasks.
Yet even while doing so, while walking the mower across the soft green expanse so lovingly cared for, he wondered about the future. About the man who would take his place on this lawn. How well will he keep it? Will he have the same dedication, the same love for its beauty? Or would he falter, not care, let brown patches mottle the perfect surface?
Most probably. Arthur thought to himself, indeed most likely.
Even now, no lawn in his neighborhood was as well preserved as his own. So, why, he would sometimes ask himself in moments of introspection, do I bother?
Because I must. Because it is what a man does. He knows his responsibilities by keeping them. And there is honor and pleasure in doing something well.
Arthur looked inward, smirking slightly at what he found there. I am a bourgeois, a philistine, and I know it. Easy to laugh at. Fun to scorn. But I am also a custodian. Helping in a very small way to hold things together. More by example than by results, maybe, but there is purpose.
One not only has to start somewhere; one has to finish somewhere.
Arthur stared at the house, forgiving his wife. This is the kind of thing, he thought, that a woman doesn't always understand.

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