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Where the Grass Used to Grow

Little white lines of paint had been scattered across the thick, unkempt lawn by some one long since gone. The paints been there for as long as I can remember—there’s been no rain to wash it away. I like to stand and look at it and wonder. I wonder about who put it there and why, but I’ll probably never know the answer to that. Most of all I wonder if they knew, the people who left those lines of paint, knew that they would stand as a testimony to another time. A better time? I wish I knew that too.

Most people around here don’t come to look at those little white lines of paint; they come to look at the grass. Miracle grass. You won’t find anything green for sixty miles in any direction, but this grass is a deep, deep, green, and taller than Anna Francis’ new baby.

It’s a strong baby too, strong like the grass. There’s been talk about digging up the grass to see if there’s a hidden spring underneath, but no one really wants to tear up our own little island of green, not really. And besides, no one knows who owns the abandoned lot and no one’s willing to tear up someone’s earth and then have the owner come back. No one’s willing to do that, not even to save our town, not even to save Anna Francis’ new baby.

They say I’m old fashioned. I don’t think they usually say that about little girls. Maybe it’s because I like to sit and think about little white lines on tall green grass. Maybe it’s because I like to say full words. I like the way they feel when they roll off my tongue and through my lips. Shaun says big words are stupid. I don’t believe him, just like I don’t believe him when he says the grass is green because men use it as a restroom at night. Mr. Garland said he knew that that wasn’t true, because those men would have to have drank water, and around here there isn’t any water to drink. Mr. Garland’s my teacher so I know he’s right, just like I know the grass is growing because it doesn’t want to die.

That’s why I’m growing. Mr. Thomas from the funeral parlor says that when you stop growing—either in body mind or soul, that’s when you die. I’m pretty sure he’s right about that, because when Mrs. Declair announced she was done learning new things, she died the very next day. And I know her body’d already quit growing because I was as tall as she was, and she stopped going to church because she’d tried to get the pastor to be her mistress but he wouldn’t, so she quit.

I liked Mrs. Declair though, because she’d sit with me and we’d eat apples while we watched the little white lines of paint on the dark green grass. That was when we still had apples. We don’t any more because all the apple trees died. I wonder if they decided to stop growing, like Mrs. Declair.

I’m never going to stop growing—Ms. Silvia agrees with me on that. She’s my art teacher. We used to paint, but now papers too expensive so we walk instead. We used to walk to the park, before it got too brown, but now we walk to the empty lot with green grass and lines of white paint. She always asks me what I’d paint if I had paper, and I always tell her I’d paint all the blades of grass with lines of white paint across them.

She used to ask me if I thought the grass should be torn up to see if there was any water underneath. I always told her no. One day though, she stopped asking me that question and she turned sad. Now I wish she’d ask me again. Because I’m not sure my answer would be the same. Before there was still a little green out in the country, a little rain from time to time. Before the town didn’t need saving. Before, Anna Francis’ baby wasn't going to die. Now I’m not so sure the grass deserves to live if the rest of us are going to wither away instead.




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