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Lizzie Ashworth: The Lawn Guy
Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Hi Delilah Fans!

Finally some fall weather! Love these nights when I can sleep with the windows open.

Thank you to those who commented on my September post about falling in love with a gay man. Apparently I’m not the only one who has gone through this. Back when this happened to me, homosexuality wasn’t an open topic. Young people had many reasons not to face the truth about their sexuality.

At that time, men who didn’t realize they were gay tried to be ‘normal’ by dating girls and even falling in love with girls. That’s what happened to me. Today, thankfully, being gay isn’t as terribly stigmatized as it was in the past. Gay men and women are more likely to think about their sexuality early on and come to terms with their true inclinations. Thus many fewer women are left with the fallout that comes from a first love who turned out to be gay.

For myself, as I said in my September post, the four-year love affair I had as a teen led to permanent issues in my self-esteem. What I learned then can’t be fully unlearned, that I wasn’t enough of a woman to drive his passion, that if I had been more flirty, more buxom, he would have wanted me more. I fully understand that nothing I did actually had anything to do with his final realization that he was gay. That doesn’t undo four years of thinking something was wrong with me.

No doubt the experience for him was even more traumatic.

So thanks for listening and sharing your thoughts with me.

And now for something entirely more entertaining! Here’s an excerpt from a new short story, “The Lawn Guy.” This work was inspired by a new anthology Delilah is working on about blue collar men. Are these guys too sexy for their shirts or what?!

Lizzie Ashworth’s “The Lawn Guy”

lalawn-guy

I stand at the window, dodging out of sight when the mower loops at the far end and starts heading back toward the house. It’s pure self-indulgence, watching him with the wind blowing his hair, his sweaty back gleaming in the sun. His back muscles do amazing things when he leans.

Why I’m torturing myself, I don’t know. I’m helpless here, a hundred other things I could be doing, and I can’t do any of them. I want him on top of me.

Is this pathetic or what?

I have the best mowed lawn in the neighborhood. Best trimmed bushes, best raked leaves, best mulched flowerbeds. I owe it all to Justin Younger, damn him.

Damn his amber eyes and crooked smile and a roughhewn face that belongs in the movies. Damn his enthusiasm about random things like the broken limb on the old elm, the turtle stuck under the back fence. I tell myself that’s why I hire him.

It’s a lie. I hire him because I’m infatuated. I’m slack jawed at the window watching him park the mower and stride across the yard with a rake. If I’m not careful, I’ll be wiping drool off my chin. How do men become so beautiful?

There’s one thing about becoming widowed. You get a paid-for house and supportive friends and time to relax.  If you’re lucky, you get left with enough money to hire your yardwork done. All that’s supposed to help make up for losing the man you meant to spend your life with, the man who’s gone. I’m so lucky.

I feel something stirring in me, something dangerous. When I watch Justin, I feel like I might explode. Everything is fucked up.

I’ve dusted every shelf, rearranged the contents of every cabinet. I can tell you exactly what part of which drawer you’ll find the tape. I tidy up whether I need to or not. It’s what I do, dusting, organizing, making sure every single thing in this house is in perfect order.

I know the clinical stuff. I’m seeking control. Control over things that happen for no reason and destroy lives. I find myself standing in places for long periods of time, like I’m waiting on something. Like David’s going to come walking through that door all smiles and I’ll fly into his arms. My hands will grab those lean muscles that curve down his back, and never let go. My hands still feel him.

I’m waiting for my life to come back. But all I can do is manage minutia and stare out the window at the one man who interests me. It feels wrong, like I’m being unfaithful to David. It doesn’t help to remember that David is never coming back.

I think this guy interests me because I can see his bare chest, his wide shoulders, his energetic response to the world. Men do that, respond energetically to the world. As if with their own hands they could move mountains and battle lions. It’s what I loved about David. It’s what got him killed.

~~~

Last night I dreamt about Justin. He was over me. I can’t get it out of my mind.

He smelled like sunshine and cut grass. His skin smoothed under my fingertips. He was gentle, slow. I woke up wet between my legs.

That’s just fucking great.

~~~

“Thought you might need a drink,” I say. I hand Justin a tall glass of iced tea with condensation running down its sides. My heart is beating in my throat standing near him.

He squints up at the sun, takes the towel from his waistband, and wipes his face and neck. I watch his shoulder flex. His chest gleams. I watch his throat move as he drinks. He slides the cold wet glass across his chest.

I’m desperate to touch him. This is sick. How did my life get so out of control?

“Thanks, Ms. B.” He sizes me up. “Did you want me to deal with that broken limb today?”

I look up at the old elm. A big limb broke in a mid-summer storm and it’s been up there dangling. “I’m worried about you climbing up there. Maybe I should hire a tree service.”

He laughs. When he laughs, lines crease his cheeks. I thought he was late twenties, but maybe he’s a bit older, maybe mid-thirties like me. He gives me this look of authority.

“Five minutes.”

I watch him climb the tree. I’m helpless down here wringing my hands. Does my homeowner’s policy include liability?

Hell, I’m old before my time. Everything terrifies me. The chainsaw whines and sawdust drifts down and I can’t watch.

Five minutes and the chainsaw comes down on its rope and then the limb is coming down on its rope and then Justin climbs down. He slides down the last few feet and lands right in front of me. Plants his boots hard on the ground. Breathing hard. Sweating. Grinning at his success.

He leans toward me. I think he’s off balance and grab his arm. He looks at me and I jerk my hand away.

“I told you,” he says. “Nothing to worry about.”

“I worried anyway.”

“If I can’t do something, I’ll tell you. Trust me.”

Is he saying more than he’s saying? I want to read between the lines. He tugs off his leather gloves, stuffs them in his rear pocket, and touches my cheek. I can’t move. I can’t breathe.

“You worry too much,” he says, peering down at me with an expression of…I don’t know. “You have sawdust on your face.”

Read the rest of this story.
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About the Author

Lizzie Ashworth has been through career, marriage, kids, and even ran her own cafe, but writing has always been her secret love. She has authored eight novels and several short stories which explore the intimate nuances of human relationships. She likes to show a process in her stories where discovery or acknowledgment of sexual pleasure or desire is key to character development. Hidden away on a remote woodland hilltop in the Arkansas Ozarks, she accepts advice from her hound dog Weezie and her cat Esmeralda. When she’s not slamming words, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and the Pacific coast. Sunrise and sunset provide her favorite moments, the magical twilight between two worlds when anything seems possible.

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