YA Writings of Dave Patterson

Kelly Mows the Lawn
by
Dave Patterson
Chapter 1: Daydreaming

Somewhere in the Milky Way - that big bright band of millions and millions of stars that you can see stretching across the sky on a clear night - was one special star, special at any rate, cover-kelly-mows-the-lawn to the people who lived on a planet near that star. They called the star the Sun and the planet the Earth.

(And how can we be part of something that's so far away? Well ... in the same way you can hold your hand way out in front of your face and it's still part of your body.)

Anyway, on one part of that pretty green-and-blue-and-white planet called Earth was a little island called Prince Edward Island, which was named for an English prince who lived over one hundred years ago. Somewhere on this island was a little town called Pine Valley - not a big town, not a small town, just a town big enough to have the right things: a school, a ball diamond, two churches with big steeples, a comer store, a gas station, and some houses for the people.

On one edge of Pine Valley was a two-storey frame house. It was white with blue trim, peeling in places; there had been some talk of painting it for the last year or so. There was a garden at the back and a garage at the side, some paving stones leading from the town sidewalk to a large veranda and three big maple trees across the front. It was a nice house. A large, orange-striped cat sat on one of the paving stones, in a patch of sunlight that peeked between the trunks of the maples. One paw was half-raised as she paused in her washing to observe what was taking place at the second door, the one on the side of the veranda leading to the kitchen.

A small person - wiry with sandy hair and freckles, and wearing blue-jeans - stood in front of the door, hands planted defiantly on hips, angrily dangling a worn baseball glove from her wrist. She glared at the screen, or through it, listening to a voice on the other side. The voice was patient (perhaps patient-wearing- just-a-trifle-thin) and firm. As the cat took another lick at its paw, the voice stopped. The girl glared for a second longer, then turned and flung the glove against the weathered boards of the veranda. She pulled a worn Toronto Blue Jays cap from her head, slapped it frustratedly against her leg, raising a small dust storm, yanked it back in position, sideways, and spoke.

" Aw, Mom! Everybody's gonna be there but me! They need me on the team!"

No response from within.

"Geez! Dumb, dumb, dumb history and stupid music lessons! And that ecology stuff ...who cares? I mean ... who cares? Rain and grass and birds and that sickening 'Miss Flower' ... ah. C'mon, Mom, I have to go to the park! Can I? Huh, huh, huh?" kelly-aw-mom!

The girl was so sure she had made a strong case that she began to edge toward a well-used, mud-spattered bike leaning against the veranda. She stopped as the voice from within spoke again, a little louder. The cat left its washing and began to amble toward one of the maple trees that had some low branches suitable for cat retreats. The girl was staring at the screen door in disbelief.

"Of course I want to be outside and not inside studying that stupid ecology ... but ... mow the lawn? Mow the lawn! It's about the ball game! Mow the lawn? Mom!"

Her argument came to an abrupt end as the screen door opened. Kelly was a quick and agile youngster blessed with enough intelligence to admit defeat gracefully in the face of a higher power. She was at the garage in a flash.

"All right, all right - I'll go to the ball park after I mow the lawn."

The screen door closed (one might even say it was slammed slightly) as Kelly raised half of the large double door to the sound of screeching hinges. She peered into the gloomy interior, letting her eyes adjust to the dark, then disappeared behind the door. A second later she emerged, a new bright-green lawn mower in tow.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot about this, the new mower. Wow! Looks pretty neat. Guess I' d better try it out."

Like many kids, Kelly was fascinated with machinery. She was also adaptable; she had almost forgotten about the ball game already, and was cheerfully thinking about the new lawn mower. Her father had taught her how to use it the summer before, and some of his instructions had sunk in.

After calling and making sure her mother was watching from the window, she checked the gas level; went to the garage, brought out a red container, and topped up the tank. She made sure the spark-plug wire was tight. Then she pulled the mower to a flat, clean place on the lawn, put her foot firmly on the machine, grasped the starter rope, and gave a great pull.

Nothing.

She pulled again. ..and again.

Nothing.

A fine bead of sweat appeared on her brow, and her lips clenched a little tighter. Kelly was a good girl, but possibly a little short- tempered - not unlike her mother. She checked things over once again, then looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching.

Thankfully, her mother had gone back to whatever she had been doing. Kelly leaned over and turned the switch to "on". The mower started with the next pull.

Kelly stood behind the machine, hands firmly gripping the handlebar, and looked briefly around the yard, plotting a course. She had done this before, but not quite often enough that she always took the same path. A new plan had to be made each time to negotiate the front walk, the maple trees, the flower and shrub beds in front of the veranda, the garage, and the lilac bushes on the town side of the front yard. As she looked at all that grass, the thrill of the new lawn mower paled slightly. All that grass reminded her of the outfield at the ball park. She forgot this as her gaze passed over the cat, high in the maple tree, with its wide eyes on the roaring mower.

Then Kelly made her decision and began to push the mower counterclockwise around the front part of the lawn, watching the grass and twigs and chewed-up leaves fly from the open ejection slot.

The yard was not that large, and, in half an hour, Kelly had done both halves of the front and had almost finished around the garage and the little strip at the back between the house and the garden. She thought again of returning to the ball park. It hadn't taken long at all, and, with any luck, they would hardly be started.

Her daydreams drifted to the outfield ... she was running swiftly after the fly ball, which floated down through the blue sky. Thunk! The ball nestled safely in her mitt ... rolling once on the grass like a real pro, she came quickly to her feet and fired a perfect pitch into home

"You're out!" cried the umpire ...

Everybody was looking at Kelly and shouting nice things. "Way to go, Kelly! ...Great play, Superstar!"

Suddenly, Kelly's reverie was interrupted by a sharp crack, followed by a high-pitched, short whine that sounded like a ricochet. The lawn mower coughed twice and died. Kelly saw a large piece of white bone sticking out from under the side of the casing, and thought some unpleasant thoughts about the large, furry, friendly neighbor's dog. She turned the mower on its side to look underneath (knowing she ought to call her mother, but hoping she could fix it herself).

"No wonder it stopped," she thought. A large chunk of that bone was wedged between the blade and the metal of the mower body. She pulled, but it wouldn't budge. She looked around. There was a small trowel stuck in the dirt at the edge of the garden. She grabbed it, slipped an edge under the bone, and pried.

Later, Kelly couldn't remember exactly what happened. There was a snapping sound, the mower lurched, Kelly lost her balance, and something struck her square in the middle of the forehead. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head, and she fell back on the lawn, unconscious.



And then! - Kelly wakes up the size of an ant, and meets an ant called Andrew, and has a great adventure in the grass and learns some things about the land of grass.

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Kelly Mows the Lawn
© 1990 by Dave Patterson (Illustrations © 1990 by Kathy Kaulbach.)

Originally (1990) published by
Nimbus Publishing Limited
P.O. Box 9301, Station A
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 5N5 CANADA

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Patterson, Dave.
Kelly Mows the Lawn
ISBN 0-921054-36-X
I. Kaulbach, Kathy R. (Kathy Rose) 1955- II. Title. III. Series
PS8581.A87K47 1990 jC813'.54 C90-097642-X
P27.P37Ke 1990



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