Work in progress: Grass

Another excerpt from a work in progress. This could easily end up as a short story as part of a longer work for which is was intended. The first draft is around 30,000 words and is incredibly messy. I really like sections of it, and the end is good. Just need to sort out the beginning and most of the middle then. It’s about a man who comes unstuck when, unwittingly, he discovers he has a hidden talent. And it’s about monks… and suburban aliens… and washing machines. But this bit is about a lawn mower.

Edwin knew his jaw was flapping a bit, but he couldn’t help himself. The man was pushing the most incredible thing Edwin had ever seen. It was a deep, dark green, like a little curved box on wheels. It had a long handle that the man pushed, he wasn’t stooped or bend over, or making any effort at all. He peered at it as it went past. It was cutting the grass, a roll of blades at the front caught the grass low down, close the earth and as the man moved forwards a fine spray of cut grass was tossed gracefully in an arc into a catcher attached to the front of the machine. It made the most hypnotic noise, a loud duga-duga-duga-duga sound and smelt fantastic. The smell was a combination of the freshly cut dewy grass and an altogether more strong sweet smell, the smell of progress thought Edwin.

He couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. He tried hard to soak up the details. The materials, the construction, the movement.

“It’s pretty simple stuff really,” said David Smith, “A two-stroke petrol engine turns the blades, which are adjustable so you can control the exact length of the cut. It’s self-propelled so all you’re doing it guiding it. The cuttings are all caught in a box, which is the part we really like. Instant compost. You just pile the cuttings up in a corner, let it rot, your vegetables will thank you forever.”

“Why… how… Can I have a go,” bleated Edwin finally.

David Smith made a quick gesture and the pushing man returned and stopped in front of Edwin. He offered him the machine.

“Just squeeze the lever on the handle and push gently,” said David Smith.

Edwin couldn’t believe how good it felt. The noise, the smells, the perfectly cut grass. He wandered up and down, looking behind him more often than was necessary to marvel at the beautiful crisp green lines he was cutting. Eventually, he returned to where pushing man and David Smith were stood and stopped. Pushing man leant down and pressed something and the machine slowed to a gentle put-put before stopping. Edwin could still hear it in his head even though the room was now silent.

“Where can I get one of these?” asked Edwin, somewhat hopefully.

“That’s the thing,” said David Smith. “You can’t. Not yet. We want to show you something else though.”

Over at the far side of the room there was a similar, more primitive looking contraption. It had the handle but was much more basic. Blades at the front, a big roller at the back. Pushing man braced himself behind it and gave it a big push to get it going. It made a brrrrrrrrrr sound as the blades span, Edwin was slightly disappointed that it didn’t make the same lovely loud noise or smell as nice as the other machine, but he could see that it did an admirable job and it still beat the scythe, sheep, sheers on your knees combo.

After a couple of goes up and down, pushing man stopped by Edwin and gestured towards the machine. In for a penny thought Edwin and took hold of the handles. He pushed it like he did the first machine, but nothing happened. It was a much heavier beast and required a bit more effort. Edwin put his back into it and soon got the thing moving. It took him a while to get into a rhythm, but once he did it really was quite satisfying. The cut grass cascaded out of the front like a little green fountain, no catcher box to spoil the view either.

He looked back at his handiwork and felt quite pleased with the results. He imagined having one of these in the gardens outside and how much easier it would make life. He thought about his own dreams of a garden and how one of these would look in his back yard. How one would look in everyone’s backyard. He imagined his lawn being the envy of the neighbourhood and thought about how everyone would want one. And if they had a lawn, well, they’d need to cut it, right? They’d need one of these machines.


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