by Cameron Lane
Lynn sat looking at the autumn leaves blow across her unkempt yard, wishing she knew when Mark would come by again to tidy it up for her. It had been weeks since he knocked on her door, grinning his awkward, toothy smile, telling her he was finished and waiting patiently for her to rummage five dollars from her purse; some days, when she was feeling well enough, she tipped him with home-baked goodies, which he gobbled down before loading his tools into a makeshift bicycle cart and peddling off toward home. Such a polite boy — no, man — she corrected herself remembering that he had just graduated Northridge High School; top of his class his mother had boasted the entire month of June. "Better start looking for a new gardener," Lynn muttered, realizing that the young boy she was so fond of, the boy so reminiscent of her own son now married and living three states away, had now grown up and would scarcely want to continue mowing an old woman's lawn for a bit of pocket change. She sighed again, returned to flipping through the pages of the morning paper, then let out an audible cry when her eyes befell a familiar face smiling up from the page. Through a blur of tears, she read the details under the bold words: Local Grad Loses Battle With Leukemia.
Cameron Lane writes from a dusty ranch in Colorado, and unplugs only when thunderstorms roll overhead.