Don’t walk on the grass

***thump ***

It was too dark to see, but Irma was sure this is where she buried it. It was frustrating, but at the same time she took some pride in the fact that the grass was getting too lush to clearly navigate to the spot.

***thump ***

The shovel was getting heavier. This whole thing really backfired. As much grief as this patchy area had given her in the past, all this digging had made matters much worse. Irma was never the best at thinking long-term. Plus, she trusted Randy with the tech-side of this. “I prefer dumb things”, she told Randy once, as he was bragging about how smart his home had gotten.

*** thump ***

Another heap of sand. I’ll have to come back at sunrise to tidy up, Irma thought to herself. People could get suspicious.


Bloody hell. This is a workout.

It had only been a few days since Irma and her brother chatted and came up with the plan. “This is your chance”, Randy had said. “You always complain about it. And it’s only going to get worse – it’s getting sunnier, and people are advised to spend more time outside. The parks are going to get crowded.”


 “You don’t have to tell me”, Irma grunted. “Gosh, I hate those people. With their little picnics. Their skinny bikes that pedal backwards for some reason. Charcuterie boards and craft beers spilling out of tote bags onto artisanal blankets. You can support local business without leaving a trail of branded trash, you know? You would think they would respect nature a bit more, now that it’s all they have. They should just stay in the city.”


Irma wiped the sweat of her forehead. In her 12 years of service on the park board, the patch next to the baseball diamond had been a constant source of frustration. Her coworkers didn’t understand – they would make fun of her continuous efforts to keep people off the grass. “It’s not a crime-scene, Irma!” they joked. “Not yet,” she responded in a deadpan matter that must have terrified them to the bone – as it had bought her a couple weeks of small-talk-free labor. She preferred it that way. “They don’t love the park the way I do”, she told Randy.


Finally. Irma kneeled down and reached into the hole. As she brushed the dirt off the small metal tin, she reminded herself to never listen to Randy again. Sure, the kid can hack, but he’s too opportunistic when it comes to technology. At least two weeks, he told her – yeah, right. The batteries on these things are ridiculous. You might as well keep them plugged in and call it a landline.

She opened the tin and took out the phone. It was definitely dead. When they buried it, Randy and Irma had speculated on what would happen. It was a bit of a gamble, but Irma was desperate. Just a couple of days with not one single human stepping on that patch, that would be enough for the seeds to sprout. And Randy had been very convincing. “If enough people go there and ‘get sick’, the spot will become veiled in mystery”. A folk tale. A sub-urban myth. A story for the time being. And in times like these, people will buy into anything.

By Doenja Oogjes | @doenjaoogjes