Hey there! 😬 ça va? Long time no see 😉 While Ray is preparing a blog post about the time off-line, she decided to post a short story – An Unkempt Lawn (satire, symbolism/written summer 2021). I hope you are fine 💙🔆📚 and see you next week, in March!
An Unkempt Lawn
Mrs. Dawn had a kindhearted nature: somewhat naïve, attracted to all things romantic, cheerful, and gentle. She made a living as an actress until 1995 when her husband was killed in a car crash. After an early retirement, she followed her childhood friend’s advice and moved to the modern state-of-the-art city, Creon, where she spent her days gardening and singing in the church choir. She was funny and quirky, had keen attention to detail, and a lot of time on her hands. But this is not the story about the life of Mrs. Dawn or the tragic death of her husband. This is a story about an unkempt lawn, the wickedness born out of the fear of losing power, desperation, and control through chaos at any expense. Or maybe this story is about something else? You tell me…
On October 6, 2021, at seventy- five years old, Mrs. Dawn sat on the sunny porch with a silver teapot and a new sugar basin she bought on her last visit to the local Autumn fair, which also featured a food truck, activities run by sports clubs, bake sales, and book demonstrations.
It was her usual morning routine: the book, the tea, and the view. And everything would be fine if Ms. Dawn didn’t happen to glance over to the sight of her neighbor, Mr. Tantrum’s, overgrown, stinking, grimy lawn. There was something grossly infectious about the man’s property – an old, unwashed sweatiness, a stagnant smell, with odors of rancidity and sickly putrescenes. Mrs. Dawn reported the smell to the authorities regularly, but in the end, gave up.
It seems Mr. Tantrum harbored a grudge against her. After the court’s decision, he sent her a book that turned out to be the Modern Creonic dictionary. Somebody had attached a note to the cover: read page 66.
Mrs. Dawn couldn’t find the courage to open the dictionary for almost a whole week, but on October 6, while sitting on her porch and enjoying the warmth of the radiant light, the joy of the chirping birds, and the silky breeze from the East, she finally checked the recommended page. Her eyes stopped at the underlined word – trend. She only managed to read the first definition, ‘change or develop in a general direction,’ when she heard a knock on the door. Mrs. Dawn opened without any question; she thought it was her friend, Mrs. Roots, who decided to visit on this warm, beautiful day. Behind the threshold stood two middle-aged men wearing badges of ‘Order and Peace.’ They looked tranquil, almost serene: well-fed, contented with life, knowing their rights, and holding authority. The two visitors handed the shocked woman a paper with the city administration’s final decision about Creon’s smells and contents. Mrs. Dawn invited men into her living room, poured them a cool cranberry juice, then put her glasses on her cockled nose and began to read the decree of the head administration. She also noticed that her neighbor, Mr. Tantrum, signed the document.
The eyes of the old woman gleamed like coal when she exclaimed in surprise:
“Is it a joke?! When did Mr. Tantrum became the Mayor of the Creon?”
“Yesterday evening,” answered both men in unison.
“Why has nobody notified us?”
“Us whom?” the taller man asked.
“For starters, me and Mrs. Roots,” Mrs. Dawn sounded irritated.
“Mrs. Roots died yesterday afternoon.”
“What? How did that happen? I just spoke with her yesterday morning…”
“From over-working in her yard,” a strange smile peeped out on the faces of the men.
“Her lawn was the most beautiful in our city, young men. I am sure she’d been silenced by the…“ Mrs. Dawn paused, then continued in a whisper. “My poor friend… Forced, ruined, killed.”
“That’s an awful way of looking at the problem, especially considering the danger involved in that kind of accusations,” replied the taller man, making notes.
“All according to Law, ma’am,” the second, younger man put a satchel full of papers on her table, took a document out, and began to read a lengthy deposition with professional volubility, enjoying the gaping mouth of the startled lady. The first man frowned over his watch.
“She was strangely troubled and unhappy last time I spoke with her on the phone. She was concerned with the neighbor’s lawn as well. It seemed he followed the footsteps of our famous Mr. Tantrum.” Mrs. Dawn spoke with extraordinary rapidity, without pause, almost sounded a little drunk. Because of her worry, the words cluttered her tongue and she involuntarily shut her eyes.
“I guess more or less everyone at the Creon has done the same thing; I’m sure you are aware of it. This is a new direction, representing the true…” the bored voice made a pause, opened his high-tech phone, then an app: “here it is – the true realization of your real potential, the path to your position, role, or success. Daily hashtags: #absolutepower #polishedbehavior #anunkeptlawn.”
“Don’t they have a tag there for ignorance, idleness, or degradation, officers? It reminds me of the words of Creon in Antigone: ‘Whatever my hands have touched has come to nothing.’”
“That’s all for now,” the shorter man announced, “the storm is coming. Gonna rain all the rest of the day.”
“Yes, dear, most likely,” the woman said absently.
When the two men left, Mrs. Dawn immediately started to pack a travel bag: she was frightened. The place where greed and blindness were favorable and trendy, where evil exercised its will for fear of losing its influence, was not the place she’d like to spend the rest of her life.
The woman carefully glanced out of the window – the sky turned red. She noticed the noisy procession in the middle of her street. People, dozens of them, all ages and all sorts, ‘dressed’ in the emotionless faces, cursing and spitting, poured out of their houses and marched to her door. There were sounds of shattering glass and the smell of gun powder.
Mrs. Dawn could hear them arguing; some laughing, eyes are shinning as mirthless and steady as the skulls in the graveyard. Most people had weapons and those who didn’t held the bottles of blue, bitter liquid. They were passing it from hand to hand. They would kill anybody they encountered, and they’d take anything they wanted. Mrs. Dawn had no doubt, afterward, they’d make a worldwide trend of it.
She was even more horrified when she shut her curtains and switched on the T.V., to a news reporter declaring two submarines and five Russian tanks, all headed in the direction of her little house in Creon. All that under the stylish hashtag – #approvedbyTantrum or #whoneedsDawnsgardens. The woman tried to ease her panic by the wild hope that people eventually will come to their senses. She didn’t know if the journalists were lying or if she was already under attack.
“There she is!” someone shouted from the backdoor. Dozens of feet sang the melody of Death – rising wind and darkening sky were hardly noticed during the battle. At that moment, Mrs. Dawn realized the storm is not coming; it was already at her doorstep, in Creon.
Part of the roof fell. The electric wires that lead to the lights, here and there, fluttered fiercely in the wind. Mrs. Dawn stood in the middle of her living room, surrounded by shouting strangers, in terror, helplessly watching the suffering of her home. People didn’t notice her inside of the crowd – their heads were filled with new words that sucked away their intelligence and engulfed each part of their soul by weak dreams. The trend was gaining its momentum – a supreme power of civilization.
The old lady strolled to her car, with her head bent, avoiding the eye contact. Her hands groped for the car keys in her bag.
“What the hell! Is it she?”
“Grab her! Where’s my rifle?”
“Wait! Why rifle? Use my hammer! More fun.”
Sober-minded civilized voices hooted in the darkness.
Mrs. Dawn slipped between their boots, rushing towards her car. She remembered herself driving in desperate circles: how her heart had pounded in her ears and how the fear ran through her veins, making her mind go blank and gloomy.
Somewhere in the woods along the river, Mrs. Dawn stopped her car. She remembered a time when the town of Creon had been bright, hopeful, and filled with laughter. Now it stood in ruins. Mrs. Dawn realized that the definition of what had happened here was much bigger than trends or Tantrum’s shallowness, because human value, caring, and compassion that the world needs has been forgotten or lost. Creon’s civilization, stripped of any gentleness and respect, created a monster much uglier than an atomic bomb. It constructed a country of glitter, where a brutal fashion of trend, where cold human logic and greed killed the inhabitants from within. That kind of civilization moved backwards, promoting a ghoulish, hideous hunger to follow the crowd, and the lust to find the beauty inside the half-numb movements.
But trends are trends… and rules are rules, Mrs. Dawn said to herself. She was happy the smell was gone, and when she looked up at the sky, beyond Creon, into the pure wilderness, she’d see some light that had been there before.