It’s short story week, so no need to read all the guff about inspiration and creativity if you don’t fancy it – hop straight on over to The Hole in the Lawn and get reading!
Okay, there’s not actually going to be an awful lot of guff for you to wade through – mostly because this is one of those stories that popped out of nowhere I can really name. I didn’t have any particular stories in mind, you see, so I decided to follow my own advice and get on with the sitting, because that’s where the magic is. And if I can’t think up something, well, I’m going to have to magic it.
What came was: “There was a hole in the lawn.” Not entirely inspiring, but I could see it so perfectly, this hole. The size of it, the shape of it, and the water that lay in it, obscuring the bottom and reflecting the sky, even the raw dirt edges of it. I even knew what sort of lawn it would be on – we lived for a while in converted servants’ cottages belonging to a grand old country house in Yorkshire. It’s not the one in the photo to the left, that just looked like a promising sort of lawn, but in the photo below you can see the topiary at the front of the house. It had an aviary, penguins(obviously), a red kite breeding programme, and fantastic grounds – they ran from the perfectly groomed flowerbeds to woods where the deer lived, and if you were out running or biking you could sometimes see the stags fighting at dusk. There was a lake full of ducks and geese and other birds I don’t know the names of, and on the paths you’d suddenly come across a beautiful stone bridge, or a mossy statue, completely unremarked, as if they’d just been scattered across the place by a forgetful builder. It was all quite magical, and in my memory there was no perfect lawn such as the hole appears in, but it was that sort of house all the same. An unexpected hole would be quite unwelcome there. Untended areas are all very well, but a well-kept garden does not lend itself to unexpected holes. Not at all.
And what if that wasn’t an entirely normal hole? What if it was even more unexpected than it appeared? Ah, well. Read on.