Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Small Things


It was a small neighborhood. All the lawns were mowed, all the trees neatly trimmed. That was how they liked it. Everything made sense, everything was orderly.
Except one man.
It was a small house at the end of a narrow street. His neighbors complained, but there was nothing they could do. When they complained, he would say a few simple words: "I like it that way."
The way he liked it was tall. Natural. He liked his grass up to his knees. He liked the branches growing in a half-hazard fashion. He liked the way the flowers bloomed in his yard. He made no apologies.
He was a sixty year-old man who had grown up in the country. He worked as an engineer for years, making things no one cares about for people who wondered if he was worth the money.
Now, he emerged from his house early in the morning, dressed in nothing but a thong, and went for a swim in a small, oval pool that came up to his chest, swimming from one end to the other. Even over the chlorine, he could smell the tall grass, and over the sound of his splashing the wind would rustle. On occasion, a few leaves would fall into the pool. As the sun slowly rose, he would watch it through the grass; and if he paid attention, he would see the little wars waged by ants, crickets, beetles, and lizards.
It was a fight to stay alive. It was a fight he had lost, in a way; he no longer felt the urge to fight back the wilds. But in a way, he enjoyed it; he enjoyed the way the grass swayed, the chirping crickets, the singing frogs late at night. He enjoyed the lack of control; it was more to him than simply an uncontrolled yard...
...it was all things possible.
They found him dead one morning. Floating in his pool in his thong, his spindly old legs bare. He was floating face down.
Some young couple took over. The house was in perfect shape when they bought it; it was always in perfect shape. He had made sure of that.
But they did not appreciate the tiny creatures with their tiny wars. They did not see the beauty in the overgrown yard, They cut it, trimmed it, and blended in with the rest of the neighborhood.
And that is how the war was lost.