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We Met on the Lawn This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I yawn at the cat and he yawns back, because this is what we do in the mornings. He’s always on that same spot on the porch, near his beloved companion Mr. Dave, the pleasant garden gnome.

I’m about to head back inside the house because the breeze on my bare body is almost icy when I notice a figure picking through the furniture we dumped in front of the yard yesterday for the garbage truck to pick up. Against my better judgment, my body begins to move in that direction. I’m curious as to what a homeless person, if in fact this person is homeless, would want with broken pieces of kitchen cupboards.

I’m close enough to notice the anklet on the now-identified female leg that is slightly visible under her almost floor-length skirt. From my vantage point I can see a lot of her hair- disheveled curls, almost red in the winter sunlight. I realize I am in her proximity when my slight step towards the rubble makes her whip around, a startled expression on her face.

As if this scene was taking place in front of her lawn.

But what I notice besides the expression on her face is the familiarity of it. I’m struck by the surety that I have seen this girl before.

“Hey.” I say, because, really, what else was there to say?

She’s looking at me with a strange expression. No, she’s looking in me I should say, because that is what it feels like. A shiver runs through my spine, and I realize she resembles a goddess emerging from a pile of…well…junk. But it’s beautiful nonetheless.

She looks very foreign and distant, so when she steps forward to me and asks in perfect English if I usually walk around without a shirt at 6 am in the morning I am taken aback.

I notice for the second time today that I am standing outside, half naked, in 40 degree weather. In front of this unearthly female being. And the strange part is, I feel so warm I’m almost sweating.

I regain my stature enough to bite back. “I should ask the same of a girl who picks through the trash in my yard at 6 am in the morning.”
She breaks a very slight smile, one you’d have to be careful to notice, and turns back to her digging.

“It’s not trash.” She says this simply, and only after a prolonged pause.

Before I can answer she says, “Hey, why don’t you get a sweater or something? If you die here and now, I probably won’t be able to carry out what I came here to do.”

“And what is that?” I challenge, genuinely curious.

“I will tell you”, she says, “when you put on a shirt.”

***
I walk casually, or what I imagine to look like casual, towards my door. Once I’m inside though, I discard the facade and marinate in the fact that I wandered out of the house in the winter, with only a pair of jeans to shield me, to confront this girl who is by the looks of it, very strange-all at an unreasonably early stage of the morning. And what did I said to her? “Hey.”

Before I can make suicide plans, or before I turn around and she has disappeared because this cannot possibly be happening, I throw on a very generic grey sweater (“I’m normal, I promise” it lies). She’s still there when I’m outside, and her skirt and the wind are blowing in the same airy way, almost like synchronized swimmers. This is what happens, Nate, when you lose yourself. I’m getting excessively poetic.
She has picked up and is struggling to hold upright a large piece of light-colored wood- the back of a kitchen drawer. My kitchen drawer. “Where are we going?” I say, as she starts walking, or I should say, struggling to walk.

“Not far.”

I take the piece from her, though it’s pretty hilarious to see her trying to carry it. I remember something now.

“Would you tell me what your name is, or do I have to put on an extra pair of socks to earn the honor?”

She’s laughing now. “Lola.”

“Lola.” I taste the word in my mouth.” I’m Nate.”

All I can think of is how I made her laugh, and how she’s sort of twirling and swaying as she walks, as if she was made of the wind.

I start humming She’s Like the Wind despite myself- and to my great embarrassment.

I’m blushing by the time she continues the song out loud, “…through my trees”.

We’re turn the corner of the block and walk a few houses down, until she makes a sharp turn that almost makes me trip with the wood in hand. Instead of walking up her front steps, she strides straight toward the driveway and stops in front of the garage. She leans on the door to slide it open, and reveals what might be the strangest and most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

The room is brimming with wooden boards. Boards on the floor, leaning against the wall, tacked on the walls, lying face up on cutting tables. But the magnificent thing is not the boards-it is what’s on them. Beautiful drawings-portraits, mostly- of strange, large-eyed people, each with their own character. I forget to speak for a moment.

“You can put them down here”, she motions to the right side of the room, where scraps of things and drawing materials are placed.
“So do you usually pick up guys off the street to carry these in for you? Or is this a new technique?” I ask, when I reassemble my thoughts.
“On occasion”, she jokes.

I raise my eyebrows at her. “So..you..did this?”

“I collect wood from random places- like today, what you saw- and I bring them back here and sort of cut them up best I can. The panels are amazing to paint on. They have a texture you can’t find in any paper-even though that sounds ironic. And I adore the wood patterns.”

There is a skylight in the garage (though “garage” is a too harsh a word for what this place is) that illuminates the room too strongly for the capacity of natural light.

She thanks me for bringing the panel, and promises to show me what she does to it. “I owe it to you, and your kitchen drawer.”

“I’d love to see it”, I say, because I genuinely would.

“See you around”, she smiles through her words. And just as quickly as she appeared into my morning, she is back in the garage and disappearing up a flight of stairs in the corner.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

fountainpen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
yesterday at 7:29 pm:
This piece is very well-written - I loved the humor and the quirky characters. Keep on writing!
 
nellimercury replied...
today at 5:24 pm :
thank you!!
 
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