What if continued
If the lawnmower is the odd thing in the story, the thing that makes it standout from the rest, it’s going to be a short story – unless we make the lawnmower compelling in some manner. I’m thinking of the movie *batteries not included.
Those robots were compelling because they were anthropomorphized. The robots had emotions and I suspect the “what if” of that story was something like “what if a race of aliens that looked like robots were stranded in a building that was about to be torn down?” and “What if the tenants of the building and the robots worked together to solve the problem?” and “What if the robots helped the people work together (bringing peace and harmony)?” which probably leads to the underlying theme of “by working together, all problems can be solved.”
How to make a lawnmower compelling. Well, what is a lawnmower? It’s metal/plastic, has a gas-powered motor, has that cord you pull to start it, it smells like motor oil, it has a rotating blade (or blades), and a breaking mechanism. It occasionally has a bag to collect the cut grass. Its user guides it. Sometimes a lawnmower is electric, and will have a long cord. Sometimes lawnmowers are “push mowers” and have no engine at all – only the user’s pushing power. Those are neat. Hard work, but neat. And then there are lawnmowers that can be ridden. A lawnmower cuts grass.
I can’t think of anything compelling about a lawnmower – other than the push mower, which has a certain nostalgia.
In the alternate world, it would have to have some significance. Otherwise the character could have fallen through the hole with a weed eater, or a golf club, or his spaniel, or hunting rifle, or canister of ant killer, or a rake… and the list can go on. Or the character could just fall through without anything that links him to the normal world.
Maybe the significance of the lawnmower is that it is from the normal world, and it becomes precious to the character – because now he’s stuck in this alternate world and things are very different. By golly, he and his lawnmower are going to get back to Raleigh, North Carolina, if he has to mow every swath of grass or grass-like form from here to the kingdom’s edge!
And so the lawnmower becomes a motivating symbol.