dan (verbalkint) wrote,


I once knew a man who would water his lawn every Thursday, without fail. He lived down the street from me, when I still lived with my parents. I think this was during my early high school years. I was not very happy then; I would often spend time just wandering the streets and alleys of the neighborhood. I always claimed to be thinking, but looking back on it I wonder if I wasn't hoping for something drastic to befall me in some shadowed alleyway. The best love I felt I could hope for, in those days, was sympathy.
So this man, every Thursday he would come out and water his lawn. He was an older fellow, so didn't have many outside responsibilities. I don't think he worked. He had no apparent family. Honestly, I don't know what he did with himself most of the time. Only on Thursdays.
Does it seem odd that I make such a big deal about an old man taking care of his lawn? Let me mention, then, that he would do this year-round. In the coldest November months, he would trudge out onto snowdrifts and turn down his water can. I asked him once why he did this. He looked up from the lightly snow-dusted flowerbed he was tending and smiled indulgently, saying "To let them know that someone cares and they are not forgotten." He sprinkled me with his water can. Perhaps 'can' isn't the right word; it was plastic, colored a light green pastel, with a wrapped leather handle like the hilt of a sword. Droplets trickled down my face, escaping off my chin and the tip of my nose. I laughed and shook my head like a sopping wet dog, though truth be told I was barely wet enough to be called damp. His smile broadened; clearly he was delighted by my response. I gave him a sweeping bow and sauntered home.
I never spoke to him again, and rarely even gave him a thought as I passed his house. Occasionally I would consider saying hello as I passed him busy at watering, but I never did, and never even regretted it until now. I am writing this in my old bedroom. I am home for the firs time in 10 years, for my mother's funeral. Walking along this street, I passed his house and gazed awhile at the grasses. They were bright green and vital, but unkempt. Was he still around? Did they still know that someone cared? I had no water with me, so I hunkered down, leaned over until I was almost face-to-face with the sweet scent of earth and growth, and I spat.
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