Friday, March 11, 2011

Mud Mounds

Grace steps out onto the back patio, then sighs.

Ugh! So gross.

She stares at a mound of dark brown mud mixed with green and red play dough. It sits right in the middle of her terracotta colored tile patio.

How many times has she told Christopher not to build his mud mounds on the patio? Keep the mud and dirt where it belongs, in the grass. In the amount of time and effort it takes her boy to fill his bucket full of dirt from the grassy part of the yard and haul it over to the patio, he could build two mounds out in the grassy area. A whole little mud town, even.

Grace shakes her head. How her little five year old loves mud. How she hates it. It is gross. She hates how the brown stuff can get everywhere: in the cracks in the tiles of the patio, in the corners of the rooms throughout the house, underneath fingernails – mostly Christopher’s. It drives her nuts. But for Christopher, mud is the best thing ever. He usually wears the biggest grin when pushing his fingers through the wet, almost black mushy stuff.

She thinks of that grin now. Wide, toothy, his rosy lips stretched wide. Beautiful. How she loves that grin. She smiles. It has been a long while since she had seen that grin. Months. She stares at the horrible, misshapen dark mound – bumpy and gooey in its consistency.

Since last summer, she thought.

Since before the cancer, and the chemo. The diagnosis came in early Fall and the months that followed were scary, stressful and lethargic ones. Ones where Christopher couldn’t go out to play most days because he was sick and just tired from the chemo. Days where he could barely get out of bed or hold his cup of water to drink. Playing in the backyard and making muddy mounds was definitely out of the question.

It has been nine months and summer is about to begin again. The rounds of chemo treatments have ended, and the prognosis is good. So far, no cancer left in his little body. In remission. The best words Grace had ever heard in her life.

She stares at the brown mound. The misshapen, gunky blob is beautiful, she realizes. So beautiful. The creation of a boy who had the energy to make it again, who could play outside once more.

The memory of Chris carrying the two small containers of play dough out into the backyard appears before her eyes. Watching him then, she knew what he was about to make. She could imagine that wide, toothy grin of his on his face as he made his new mound.

This mound. Normally, she would quickly scrape it up with the outside dustpan and deposit it back onto the grass. But not today. Today, this beautiful mound, a precious sign of her son being healthy again, would stay.

Grace turns and walks back into the house.

This post is a work of fiction based on a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club where we were asked to write a piece about something ugly - and finding the beauty in it.


  1. That's beautiful. It is so true what things mean depending on how you perceive them. Mud never looked so good.

  2. What a beautiful piece Melanie. Very touching! Nice to see another Colorado resident on here.

  3. Lisa,

    Thank you. Nice of you to stop by. It's great to meet another Colorado resident!

  4. So beautiful. I know that feeling of a child who couldn't do something and then has the strength/ability to do it later- we tend to be so much more lenient and accepting then. b/c we see what's really important.

  5. What a beautiful story with such a tender lesson for all of us woven inside.
    I loved every minute of this. The quiet reflection. The vision of the boy's grin. The powerful lesson. Beautifully done.

  6. This was so sweet. I have many friends, too many, who are going through this right now. It is so easy to take things for granted until faced with something like this.
    Great job.
    Visiting from TRDC.

  7. What a great reminder to appreciate our lived ones and their little annoyances because all too fast it could be taken away.

  8. I really liked how you set the scene...the visual of the patio, the mud, the playdough.

    Although, I don't find mud gross. Probably because I still play in it. lol

    Visiting from TRDC.

  9. There's so much to like here, but my favorite small detail is the Play-Doh mixed into the mud piles.

    It's such a quirky thing; it gives the little boy's character something really unique.

  10. A wonderful piece. You have drawn the little boy and his mother with real empathy.

  11. It's so important to keep things that usually annoy us in context, isn't it? This is a perfect reminder of why.


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