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The Man on the Lawn This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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He sits back in the wooden lawn chair, the furniture’s rusty legs squeaking as pressure is exerted on its archaic figure. He knew he should probably get a new chair, one that doesn’t squeak with each movement, but then again, he always had a problem parting with what was broken. But today he didn’t want to worry about what was wrong. Inhaling the scent of freshly cut grass around him and SPF 40 on his skin, he feels all his muscles relax. He had nothing to do but sit there with his ice cold lemonade, pretending his only care in the world was whether or not his scalp was getting sunburnt as the hours passed. He didn’t want to think about anything else.

Thinking overwhelms him, and the more time he has to himself the more time he has to think back on his life, to pick it apart and obsess over every flaw and conflict. He does not know what to do, now that he has this sudden influx of time, flooding his brain and drowning him in his thoughts. Does losing his wife mean this is what he will do with the rest of his life, just sit here as the virtual clock ticks off hour after hour in his mind, forcing him to confront the feelings he tries to burrow deep inside? He wants to escape, desperately trying to pull his body out of the puddle forming in his head, avoiding the need to face what is really happening. Staring up at the crystal blue sky, attempting to ignore the clutter of thoughts swimming in his head, he begins to draw shapes out of each fluffy, translucent cloud. A palm tree and a black bird soaring overhead are the only things clouding his view.

Somewhere in the cotton candy mess of clouds he is able to spot a face, a set of eyes beneath arched brows and a ski-slope nose formed by the curve of a powdery cloud. A set of lips emerges from a puff of white beneath the nose-like figure, and suddenly there he is. The man on the lawn chair, staring into his own face, reflected in the endless white clouds.

But he does not look like himself. He sees strain, the cloud-like brows knitted together as though he is troubled over something. Recently he had been trying to hide the stress enveloping his mind ever since his wife left. He thought he had done a good job pushing these worries to the back of his mind, not letting anyone notice the pain he was going through, but maybe it isn’t that easy to run from the problems we are forced to face. He could see frustration in the face in the sky, most likely a result of the anger he felt over the mistakes he had made. He did not want to leave his wife. No, that was an understatement. He physically couldn’t leave his wife, because that would be the equivalent of losing the legs he needed to stand on, the eyes he needed to see clearly, the heart he needed to keep going. But she thought differently. She was tired of being his arms and legs, wanted to finally let go of this burden she called her husband. And so one day the manilla envelope had came in the mail, and as he had capped off his signature on the dotted line he felt himself signing away on everything which had stabilized him. He believed the only way to push forward was to push the memory farther and farther back, until it was but a faint glimmer in his otherwise empty conscience.

Now, however, as he continues to stare at the cloudy face and study the anguish beneath his reflected eyes, he realizes he must bring his sorrows to the light and face life on his own two feet, no exterior support system. He hadn’t wanted to recognize the fact that he’d now be facing life alone, but we can only run from our troubles for so long before they hit us in the face, screaming at us every vexatious thought we had tried to avoid. He had tried to seem unfazed by his wife’s departure, but this cloudy figure has made visible all the agony and distress he had spent time to cover up. Maybe, he realizes, we are unable to see our own troubles until they slap us in the face, drowning us in the ever-flowing pool of time.

Tired of hiding from the ugly truth, the middle-aged, broken man gets up from his rusty lawn chair and rubs his eyes, distorting the image in the sky until the face-like cloud becomes an unidentifiable figure, no longer resembling himself. He has not wiped away his worries, though by recognizing them and facing them head-on he is able to mute their effect on him. An influx of time is no longer a haunting figure threatening to bring his problems to the light, but a way to sort through the chaos and find a way to deal with that anguish before he finds his own face unrecognizable. He begins this new journey by throwing away the lawn chair.





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