His patterns linger in the grass.
The first edge always carved straight down the double hill, along the side of the driveway. As soon as the span of a single blade was all that remained along the front of the lawn, we would turn left ninety degrees, running hard along the stone wall over which we jumped our toboggans in the winter, frozen butts jolting off the road below as we remembered too late to check for cars.
“It’s a communist plot,” he’d shout over the engine as he made that first uphill turn, pushing hard against gravity. A sudden eruption of sweat would appear through his white shirt: a smiley face on his chest, though he was rarely smiling on this stretch.
Pinecones, small wildlife, and other trespassers from the undeveloped land in between yards forced me to run ahead and pull away interloping obstacles before they found the mower. Even when I missed them, he always saw the toads, and we carried them away to safety.
Finally, atop the hill, another left-turn, flush to the hedges in front of the living room. Gram sat on the davenport shouting something nobody heard, we kept our slow progress.
Left, and left again, the spiral bloomed in the lawn. Later, I would run laps in its lanes having long forgotten the trudging and complaining I did in carving them.
As I ran, he’d go in and watch NASCAR, in later years under a blanket despite the heat, always thinner. Always turning left.
- Ben Jackson is majestically bearded and the single father of the coolest thirteen-year-old-girl in the history of thirteen-year-old-girls. He is also the blogger behind DadoftheDecade.com, where he writes about becoming a father under less-than-ideal circumstances. His work has appeared in WBUR’s Cognoscenti, The Legendary, The Penmen Review, 50 Word Stories, Patch Media, and anywhere else he can con editors to publish him. He lives in Massachusetts.