Under the Rhubarb


Barb had large plans for the backyard garden. The space had been there but never the time. With spade in hand, she chuckled wryly at recent developments.

Her company had been mercilessly down-sized, and she as number two in human resources had been kept on until the bitter end. It had felt like the role of the Angel of Death. Greg had insisted that she not worry about the time off this summer. Things were going very well for him in the new Corporate Governance Department at The Firm. It almost seemed as if he had not welcomed her success after the children had gotten older.

Had that not been one of the main issues in her sister's divorce? Jobs. Money. Competition. And the two of them had cut it off without any significant emotion. It just dried up. Barb was wondering now about her own marriage.

All afternoon she had been spading up sod by the west fence. She could almost see the planned brilliance of perennials. A strip of old rhubarb would have to be removed. It had been there for the nine years they had been in the house. Un-killable. Five minutes into the task, her shovel hit steel, and she unearthed an old coffee can. Curious? Perhaps it was time for a lemonade break.

With one of Greg's screwdrivers from the garage she was able to remove the rusted lid. Inside were a bundle of old letters held together with blue elastic. Wow! Hidden treasure or mystery?

With her second refreshing glass she got into the correspondence. Apparently a prior occupant, Christine had been writing to "Dear Brad". Hmmmm, Christine. Hadn't the title papers received at time of closing referred to former owners Thomas and Christine Platt?

The unearthed saga suggested that Thomas was spending overmuch time at his bank, and that Christine had "befriended" Brad, one of the other parents at the children's elementary school. It had started out with a refreshing talk at the end of a school function, and had developed into something of much deeper and forbidden hope.

Barb could hardly believe what she was reading. The Platts about thirty years ago had proved to be real community servants and their three children had all done well and were happily married. No scuttle on any scandal.

The last letter in the bundle held the key. It was a carbon copy:

Dearest Brad: Were I to follow my heart, we would be together. I am tempted by your growing insistence. But then I look at the kids. I see Tom working so hard at what he believes to be important. I remember the thrill of our past years together hoping, planning, quibbling. I must remain with them all. I will say no more about the excitement and discovery which you have opened up in me. We will not see each other again. All of the correspondence which I possess will be hidden in a place far from view, but still present in a way to remind me of the things we shared. I love you. I leave you. Christine.

For Barb it was time to attend to dinner. Greg had said that he would try to be early. Definitely, tomorrow the coffee can secret would be returned to its rightful place.

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