Wednesday, October 7, 2009


(photo by Lon Horwedel)

“Whoa – what just happened?” Red said to himself as he regained his bearings.

He tried to look around, tried to move, but he couldn’t budge an inch. All he could do was stare straight ahead. Suddenly, to his horror, Red saw the rest of his family high above him slowly coming into focus.

No, this can’t be.” He cried.

But it was true. Red was on the ground.

He’d heard this might happen. Rumors had recently grown from whispers to shouts amongst his brethren in the branches. They said their new color was a sign the end was near. But Red didn’t believe it - he couldn’t believe it.

“How could this be the end?” He scoffed at his friends, admiring his bright, new crimson coat.

He ignored all the talk - dismissed it as gossip.

The tales of aunts and uncles being shredded to bits by lawn mowers; the fables of grandparents being incinerated in roadside ditches; the horror stories of cousins being pressed between book pages or turned into compost – all so unbelievable.

But here he was, sitting in the blanket of green grass he’d only ever seen from on high before this moment. Cool and wet and nowhere near as comfortable as it looked, the pointy tips of the grass blades pricked at Red’s undersides. If not for the round, soft leaves of clover, it would have been no better than resting on a bed of nails.

Up to that point, Red never paid much attention to the grass. It had always been “down there” he had always been “up here.” He was better than grass. Smarter ... loftier ... safer! He never dreamed in a million years they would ever meet.

Oh sure, every now and then Red would peer down at the emerald carpet covering the roots of his home. He even felt genuinely bad when the man with the noisy mower would come by and hack up any dissenters bold enough to reach for the sky. The slaughter was unfounded; the screaming unbearable, but the stupid grass never learned its lesson, it just kept growing and reaching before being cut to pieces.

Somehow, most of the grass survived the weekly carnage. Red even noticed that he and the grass had become the exact same color by the end of May.

But not anymore.

The bloodroot color of Red’s skin now stood out against the lush, green grass with screaming severity. He was alone now, easy to spot – defenseless. If the man with the mower came by now, it would be light's out for Red.

Somehow he had to find a way back to his branch. How he wound up on the ground in the first place was confusing enough, so getting back to the tree was going to be tricky.

Falling was scary. Red didn’t even remember letting go as he spun in circles on the way down. He wasn’t quite sure how his stem just “broke free” from the branch. In fact, he’d been careful to always hang on extra tight after a summer thunderstorm sent several of his friends to their untimely deaths.

Red had been feeling a little weak lately, but he chalked that up to a cold. He attributed his change in skin color to maturity. It was true he was no longer a young bud, but Red was far from dry and brittle.

When Red finally hit the ground the landing was soft and painless. But now the grass was making him itch, worse yet, it began to snicker at his fate.

“You think you’re so great.” Grass said. “You think you’re so smart. Well look at you now Mr. Bigshot. How does it feel to be down here on the ground with all of us lowlifes, huh?

Red was scared; the grass had him hooked in its grasp and wouldn’t let go.

“The rakes will be out soon.” Grass said. “That's if you’re lucky enough not to be mown to bits first!”

“Why won’t you let me go?” Red begged. “What have I ever done to you?”

“You – you and your condescending friends," Grass snarled, "you all think you’re so great – so pretty. Well how do you like it now?

“Please, this is some kind of mistake, you don’t understand.” Red pleaded.

“Oh, I understand perfectly.” Grass replied. “You spend all your time up there safe in the sky while I get stomped on by kids all day, sprayed with chemicals every week, infested with worms, dug up by squirrels and pissed on by dogs! The only thing you have to worry about is the occasional caterpillar. What’s not to understand?"

Red started to cry.

“Quit your whimpering!” Grass demanded. “This will be over for both of us soon enough.”

“What do you mean, both of us?” Red asked.

“We’re doomed maple boy!" Grass said. “It’s October pal, you and me are on our way out.”

“On our way out where?” Red asked.

Grass started to laugh.

“We’re dying Red!” Grass answered. “Well … you’re dying, I’m just dormant.”

“That can’t be.” Red insisted. “I’m only five-months old.”

“How long did you think you were gonna last, big shot? Grass asked. “Did you think you were immortal? Did you think you were an evergreen? Read my lips Red – you are DECIDUOUS!"

“It can’t be true – you’re lying.” Red said.

“Am I? Grass responded. “Look at your skin pal, it’s already starting to shrivel and curl. You got a week if you’re lucky, maybe two if it’s cold. You fell early Red, you weren’t supposed to be here for another couple of weeks and now you’re already starting to decompose.”

“Stop it!” Red screamed at the grass. “Just shut up – you’re wrong. Do you hear me? Wrong!!!

“You believe what you want to believe ol’ buddy," Grass said, continuing to laugh, "but if I were you, I’d pray they mow us down before the snow flies."

Then Grass stopped laughing and pulled Red closer to the ground.

"Don't worry Red." Grass whispered. "It’s a mulching mower, got blades sharp as razors - you won’t feel a thing.”

Red tried not to listen, tried not to look. He closed his eyes and dreamed of spring. The air was cool on his surface, but the sky was gray and still.

There was no breeze to free him, no way to get back home, so Red did the only thing he could do...

He lay on the grass and prayed the mower woudn't come.


  1. An excellent, excellent,entry. I am going to link you again from my place and I hope you get a few more followers.

  2. Stopping by via my hubby's blog (that guy Ken up there). This was great, but I have to say I feel really bad for Red. I have a hard enough time thinking of how cold the animals must get in the winter, worrying about if they'll be okay or I'll wonder about the leaves. And believe me...we have a LOT of leaves. :) Cool entry!

    All my best,

  3. Well, at the beginning, I was going to suggest you start writing children's books... then Red met Grass!!!!

    LOL!!! Good story!! I am a follower, but for some reason, not getting your blog update notices.