| By Robert Menzimer
IT WASN’T as if Phillip Favreau had come upon an assault rifle in his backyard. But still, he was startled by what he did find, hidden in a flower bed. He was pushing aside some foliage with his elbow while snipping the brown and wilted head of a formerly resplendent Juul’s Pearl dahlia and recalling its appearance back in mid-summer, the delicate white cones, rimmed in silver, covering each bloom. And then he saw it—a plastic freezer bag. It appeared to be the one-quart size, and inside rested a folded sheet of white paper. Phillip reached down and retrieved the bag. He turned it, examining both sides. It wasn’t new, but there was nothing written on the outside to describe the bag’s former contents—no “Heirloom Tomato Sauce,” “Symphony Tickets,” or “Fountain Pen Nibs.” No clues, and what was it doing in his dahlia bed?
Phillip removed his leather gloves, wiped his hands on his chambray gardening shirt, opened the bag, and extracted the paper. He unfolded it to find the stylized figure of a crow in the upper right corner and five words carefully printed in thick black ink: “I love you, you know.” Phillip looked up and stared straight ahead, motionless. He swiveled his head, looking about the yard in all directions. He walked to the side fence, the low barrier between his yard and that of Genevieve Whipple. They had shared many conversations over that fence since Genevieve moved in six months ago. The crows that wouldn’t leave the tall English walnut tree in her yard and sent their cacophonous cries throughout the neighborhood. Gardening and cooking, life’s pathways, roads not taken. As they talked, Phillip would notice how Genevieve’s hazel eyes complemented her hair, the gray so effortlessly streaked with soft blond. Her smile invited confidences. Phillip looked down again at the note from the plastic bag. He had never seen Genevieve’s handwriting and, in any case, this note was printed.
From an upstairs window overlooking the backyard, Annette Favreau clicked the top of the black marker into place and smiled down at her husband, sympathy brimming in her eyes. She shook her head. Men.
Robert Menzimer, a freelance writer and editor, is executive director of the nonprofit WriterCoach Connection program, which provides writing support to students in East Bay public schools. He lives with his wife in Albany.
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