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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meltdown

A line of sweat ran down her neck, beneath the edge of the white tank top that was stuck to her back like the skin on a baked potato. She dashed the wetness away and scowled, narrowly avoiding a collision with an apple tree.

Hot. It's too blasted hot to be cutting the lawn.

If it was up to her, her butt wouldn't be glued to the seat of the tractor but it wasn't up to her. Over breakfast she'd asked what he wanted to do with the day. First dumb move.

"Cut the lawn."

How could she refuse? After all, she'd asked.

Next time she'd know better. Note to self: No more asking about day's activities over breakfast.

She'd had to accomodate him, even if it was hotter than Hades out here. Not that she'd ever seen Hades, but still...it was hot.

Besides, he'd been patient while she proofread the galley of her upcoming release. Yeah, he'd been very understanding. Quiet, too. And he'd brought her meals to her desk so she didn't get distracted. Yes, the darling man was supportive and considerate. Cutting the lawn? It was the least she could do to repay his kindness.

But did he have to choose the hottest day of the week for this little adventure?

Their paths crossed near the barn. His straw hat perched at a rakish angle on his curly black mop.

"Having fun?" he called.

She nodded, smiled.

Yeah, a whole pantload of laughs. Don't you ever sweat?

But hours on a lawn tractor does have its benefits and eventually she saw the lighter side of the cloud. The hum of the engine and mindless turns and passes over the thick grass gave her a chance to consider the chapter she had been working on late last night. The new book was a mystery. A murder mystery. It was coming along nicely except...

She didn't have a murder. Yet. And what kind of murder mystery doesn't have a murder? No, someone had to die.

But who? And, more importantly, how?

Paying less attention to the lawn and more to the plot slowly forming in her head, she took the turn by the corn patch tighter than she'd intended. A few knee-high stalks flattened but she didn't notice. The plot was beginning to come together in her mind...

"Looking good." His voice pulled her from a hot, humid summer night. A young woman. Her jilted lover. "Looking real good, isn't it?"

"Uh huh." Smiling automatically, she turned her machine to the far side of the lawn. Maybe she'd get some peace over there. "Real good."

He's got a gun. No, a knife. No, a gun.

"Ugh," she muttered. A yellowing clump of daffodils thwumped under the blades, a sweet scent filling the air. "No knife. No gun. Everyone uses those." No, it has to be something better. Something more unusual...

"Great job, honey! It looks like a park!" He'd found her.

She looked up into his smiling face. He'd removed his hat and was wiping his brow with his hand. He looked hot, but happy. In that moment all sweaty annoyances disappeared. Her heart fluttered.

Note to self: Always ask about day's plans over breakfast.

Thoughts of the new book were all but forgotten as she remembered the mint iced tea she'd made earlier.

She nodded toward the gazebo. Thought of the strawberry shortcake fixings in the fridge beside the tea pitcher. He got her drift, and they turned and headed for the house.

Who cared about the new book, anyway. After all, she'd just finished the last one. The new one could wait. Why fret over murder on such a lovely day? And murder weapons? No need to struggle with that yet. She had plenty of time to consider it, lots of time to--

Thrummp-thrum-thrummp.

An explosion! Bits of pink filled the air, raining down on her. They caught in her hair, stuck to the sweaty curls. Magenta tendrils, like smoke, fell past her face. She sniffed. A spicy scent, one she almost recognized.

Glancing over her shoulder, her heart thudding in her chest, she steeled herself for the worst. Surely she'd hit an animal, killed some small, defenseless creature. And all because she'd been preoccupied, more concerned with her own silly murder than concentrating on the task at hand.
Why had she been so selfish? Why had she been so--

The spot looked naked. Bare save for the brown stalks sticking out of the ground at unnatural angles in the center of a pool of crimson. They were gone, really and truly gone before their time, but they gave her an idea. Just a small flickering, wisp of an idea, but still...it was something.

Hmm...death by peonies?

8 comments:

Marianne Arkins said...

or death by lawn tractor, lol!

I actually love to mow the lawn, it's very zen-like. In fact DH and I fight over it... he usually wins.

Happy summer. Poor peonies.

Sarita Leone said...

I love it too. We do it together, he on his tractor and me on mine. And the flowers all shiver and quake!

Happy summer to you, too! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG, I love these Wednesday stories! They are a riot!

Can't wait to read Sniffing Sand! Did you get my order? I'm anxious to see it in my hands!!

Pam

Susan said...

Death by peonies-and inventive way to go that's for sure. I get such a jolt from these stories. It looks like you have fun on the farm!

Dru said...

I love it. Your Wednesday stories always put a smile on my face.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha...too funny. I was thinking about running over someone with the tractor too! Yeah, but think about the mess then...but there'd be no stalks lying around!!!

Aussie Jude

Nicole McCaffrey said...

LOL death by peonies! I love it!

What a cute story and so clever. I think my favorite line was about her shirt sticking to her like the skin on a baked potato, LOL.

Thanks for giving me a chuckle so early in the day!

Amy said...

OMG, ROFL!! Wonderful! So sorry about the peonies, though.

13 would love to have a riding mower. But we feel the push mower builds character....thankfully it's just a little quarter-acre suburban lot.