Love Potion Number Nine (part 1)

“Mandy said I’d find you out here.” My husband’s voice is soft and careful, as is his touch on my shoulder. He’s learned over the years when to approach with caution, a skill he’s had to use often lately.

I nod, words out of reach.

“I wouldn’t have come, but I found this in my things.” We both know that’s a lie. He didn’t have to drive across town from the hotel. “I figured you might want to hang onto it.” He places a package beside me where I sit on the grass. I keep my gaze fixed on the clusters of blues and reds and yellows in the flower garden where I’m weeding. “Okay,” the word is a sigh. He stuffs his work-roughened hands into his jean pockets. “I’ll go now.”  But he doesn’t. He’s waiting for me to make a move, to reach out. But I can’t. “I guess I’ll see you on Monday?” he finally says.

Right, I think, at Mr. Hirschel’s office, the divorce lawyer. Our appointment is at nine a.m. sharp. “Yes,” I say softly. I’m afraid to look at him. Afraid of what I might see in his eyes. He doesn’t want this divorce. I don’t either, not really. But I’ve left us little choice. I glance at the package beside me. It’s small and wrapped in a brown paper grocery bag like a gift. The red printing on the bag is faded, the paper “fuzzy” with age, like soft brown suede. The tape is yellowed and brittle looking. I recognize the return address.

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