89.5 WNIJ recently invited listeners to participate in Three-Minute Fiction, a “very short story” contest inspired by an NPR series of the same name. GK Wuori, a DeKalb native, Pushcart Prize-winning author and Illinois Arts Council Fellow, wrote the story prompt and selected five winners and five honorable mention commendations.
Author Mary Ann Presman took fourth place in the Three-Minute Fiction competition with Yard Work.
“Yard Work” by Mary Ann Presman
I’m a fella who likes a nice lawn. I spend a lot of time mowing and clipping and bagging and blowing; fertilizing and watering and transplanting. It’s kept me out of trouble in my retirement years. After I finish whatever yard work I’ve assigned myself for the day, I like to sit on the little wrought iron settee we have out in front of the house, pop open a Miller Lite and admire my handiwork.
It’s also a good vantage point from which to keep an eye on the neighborhood. You’d be surprised at what goes on in this seemingly tranquil subdivision. The wife and I have a house smack in the middle of a cul-de-sac on a slight rise which enables me to monitor most of the houses on a couple of streets without even getting up off my settee.
I’ve had to call the cops a time or two when the house on the corner across the street had lots of unusual activity—cars coming and going at all hours of the day and night. Turned out my suspicions were confirmed. A nice little drug business was being conducted over there and soon enough the people who lived there were foreclosed on and had to move out. Good riddance.
The lady who moved in appears to be a single mom. There are a couple of young kids, but no man of the house that I have noticed. The lady of the house does her own yard work, and while she doesn’t devote nearly the time and energy to it that I do, she does alright. And she’s easy on the eyes to watch, quite the dish. I’m guessing she’s probably trying to get a tan at the same time she mows the lawn and that’s why she wears a kinda skimpy swimsuit—a bikini, really. She must be a nurse or something because she doesn’t work Monday thru Friday; Tuesday and Wednesday are her days off and she usually mows her lawn on Tuesday afternoon, unless it rains. Then it’s Wednesday. Her lawn mowing usually coincides with my settee-sitting time. And, up til now, Tuesday afternoon has been when my wife was off playing bridge.
But last week when it appeared that our new neighbor lady’s lawnmower had broken down, I went over to see if I could help. I’m pretty good at fixing things.
Brenda—that’s her name—was very appreciative. Turned out she hadn’t been mixing the proper ratio of oil to gas, so it was a simple thing to correct and I was soon back on my settee. As a gesture of gratitude, after she finished mowing her lawn, she came across the street with a couple of cold ones—Stellas, mind you. “Thank you so much for helping me out. Mind if I join you?” So there we were, getting acquainted all neighborly like—her in her bikini and me in my Bears cap, when the wife pulled in the driveway right alongside the settee.
Next thing I know, my wife signs us up for a Civil War class that meets on Tuesday afternoons over at the Center for Learning in Retirement.
For more information on the Three-Minute Fiction “very short story” competition, please visit wnij.org.