• Mathura Hawley


Updated: Aug 2, 2021

She peered out the back window through the curtains. I pushed, and sweated. Pushed and sweated. "

My mother came home one spring day and told me that Mrs. Dennison, a woman that lived around the corner, had asked if I would like the job of mowing her lawn. Only eleven, I had not yet made any money outside the gates of my own home, and felt anxious at the thought of trying to please someone other than my mother or my teachers. I knew who this woman was, as I had stopped with my mother to talk with her many times on the way to the corner grocery. Her eastern European accent was very thick, her short body round and full, her dress quite formal but gaudy, her jewelry thick and fake and her hairdo black bouffant, which I always suspected was a wig. She had one eye that didn’t make much sense with the other, a wart on the upper right side of her nose, and I knew from listening to my mother’s gossip, that her husband had made her a financially comfortable widow in her late fifties. Her rich sister owned one of the big houses up on the wealthier hill of our small town, and I imagined them as two more of the Gabor sisters I had seen on TV, with their eccentric clothing and dramatic accents. I liked pausing outside her little yellow house with my mother because her miniature poodle, Pierre, would stumble down the stairs for a petting, his old, course skin dotted with little round growths and knotted hair patches. So I said “Yes,” to the lawn job, and nervously showed up for duty the next day, noticing a hand mower with its rusty blades leaning against the side of her garage. I knocked. I knocked again. She came to the window and pointed, silently, with her hand, a claw of colored rings, toward the back. I got behind the rusty mower and began to push, forcing the circle of blades over and over through the grass, cutting it down a few inches in spots where the metal was sharp enough to have effect. She peered out the back window through the curtains. I pushed, and sweated. Pushed and sweated. I mowed my way around to the front yard and all the way to the sidewalk, the old machine clogging and becoming more difficult with the long, damp grass. She watched through the etched glass of the front door. I crossed the concrete to get at the final strip along the road, stopping to rub the fresh calluses on my hand from the weathered wooden handle. She swung the front door open. "Scotty, Scotty?!” she called to me, before stepping out in her rhinestone covered, yellow house dress. “Yes, Mrs. Dennison?” I asked politely, wiping sweat from my forehead. “Are you too fat to mow my lawn?!” She yelled.

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