“Did you listen to the radio today?” his girlfriend asked one lazy summer afternoon as he fussed over the lawnmower engine. He loved his girlfriend, but he loved his lawn more, and he cared for it more tenderly than any lover ever might. It was his masterful creation, one he had coaxed and reshaped into something perfect: dense, evenly cut, beautifully green. The smell of freshly cut grass was his ambrosia.
“They were interviewing someone about how plants talk to each other. That that smell of cut grass is actually the grass screaming for help.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I am,” she said, more than a little defensively. “Grass talks through scent, or something like that. You come through, cut it down, and it sends a message to all the other blades: Look out! Monster running amok!” she laughed. “Weird, huh? You want another beer?”
She left after dinner. With nothing better to do, he sat in the dim twilight, nursing another beer as he looked at his beautiful lawn. He tried not to think about it, but… Was it true? Was the grass crying out in pain? Ridiculous, he decided. It’s just a bunch of grass.
The next morning, he got out the mower and started the slow process of guiding the machine across the lawn in a perfectly aligned path. He moved slowly, carefully, making sure each cut was precise. He’d finished the front and was halfway through the back when mower ran out of gas. Time, he decided, to take a break…
… but when he rounded the corner, he was shocked to see… the grass was turning… changing… it was all brown, dying before his eyes. As he watched in horror, the brown spread across the lawn, the blades simply lying down, withering as they folded in on themselves and collapsed to the ground. And then he could smell it: the smell of freshly cut grass, suddenly infusing the air with the unavoidable scent, as though, before finally dying, the grass sent out one last, desperate plea for help…
Then, it was gone. The lawn, only yesterday lush and green, was now brown as the dirt below it. When he walked across it, it snapped under his shoes, like so much brittle glass. He found the one blade of green and pulled it loose, then watching as it turned brown and then to dust in his hand. With a yelp, he dropped it and ran for the patio. Did I do this? he wondered, knowing the answer before he’d even finished the question. A slight wind blew across the desolation, churning up the dry, dead blades and tossing them in the air like ashes from an invisible fire.
He couldnt leave the porch that night. Instead, almost inconsolable, he stared at the grass, begging its forgiveness, promising against all hope that, if it came back, he would never cut it again, that he would let it run wild, that he would simply take care of it, not try to reshape it into something he —
But it was too late. In tears he couldnt even begin to explain, he lay down on the concrete slab and fell into a black, dreamless sleep…
… The sun rose over the top of the fence and slammed him into wakefulness. His eyes opened —
— and the grass was back. Long, green, gently waving in the early morning sun. He lurched upright and sat on the steps, not daring to even put a foot onto this miracle. Instead, he ran his hand through the blades, and they caressed it in return. And when the breeze came across the lawn, the grass danced, and he could smell…