Childhood memories couldn’t be hidden by Gran’s overgrown backyard. Fynn’s gaze of the present blurred with the recollections of the past. His favorite climbing tree was now overgrown and too full of leaves to see the branches.
A melody wafted over the fence, haunting and sweet. He stood rooted, swaying in time with the heavenly tone.
“That was beautiful,” Fynn said as the last note vanished on the breeze.
A gasp answered him followed by a sliding door banging shut.
Fynn stepped into the kitchen. “I think I scared your neighbor.”
“Oh, Fynnagan. Lad, when did you get here?”
“Gran, I came last night. Don’t you remember?”
“Last night?” Gran’s weak voice was accompanied by a vacant stare. “Yes, of course.” She patted his hand.
He noted the breakfast Gran was making and added more eggs and bacon. “Your neighbor has a lovely voice.”
“Poor girl.” Gran shook her head. “They moved here several years ago after a car accident. Her wee brother was lost, and her mother said that Jenna’s face was disfigured. Her mother homeschooled her, but the parents have moved away. Now I think the lass does some kind of job from home. But she never leaves.”
Fynn glanced out the window over the sink toward the fence. Trapped in her home by fear. That was no way to live.
Molly, Gran’s beagle, pawed at the fence and barked several times.
“Hello, Molly girl.” The sweet voice slipped through the cracks between the fence boards.
Molly barked twice, her tail wagging furiously. Fynn knelt beside the squirming dog. “Hello.”
A little gasp answered again.
“Please don’t leave. I don’t mean to frighten you. My name is Fynn. I came to visit Gran.”
A long silence answered. “I’m Jenna.”
He almost missed the tiny whisper. “Hello Jenna. It’s my pleasure.”
“Thank you.” The sliding glass door slid closed, though with less force this time.
“Well, it’s a start, Molly,” Fynn rubbed the dog’s head.
Fynn turned off the edger and removed his T-shirt using it to wipe away the sweat.
“You’re making quite a racket.” There was a lilt in Jenna’s soft words.
“The yard hasn’t seen good care since grandda passed. I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“No. I’m glad Miss Abigail has someone.”
Loneliness tugged his heart at her words. He moved closer to the fence. “I’m between jobs and thought I’d visit Gran for a spell and get my bearings. But things are different than I expected.”
“She’s not the stout Irish woman I remember taking me by the ear when I raced through the house. She’s …”
Fynn sighed, “Yeah.”
Molly scratched on the fence.
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know yet.” The smoke detector in the kitchen started beeping and Fynn ran for the house. “Gran?”
Fynn dropped with his back against the fence. “You there, Jenna?”
“Is Miss Abigail all right?”
“Yes, just burned cookies. I hate to think what could have happened.”
The days lengthened and evenings filled with blinking fireflies. A board held aloft on two cinder blocks now sat against the fence. There Fynn met with Jenna every day.
“You’re making quite a commotion.” Jenna called in a lull of his pounding hammer.
“I’m building a gazebo, complete with a fire pit for when it gets cooler.”
“Miss Abigail is sure to love it.”
Fynn moved to the bench, his hand pressed to the barrier he loathed more each day. “No, Gran will probably never use it. I’m hoping for a different visitor.”
The gentle sound of the sliding glass door reached Fynn.
The cozy gazebo complete, Fynn took grandda’s chainsaw and cut away a section of the hateful divide between him and his love. He fashioned it into a gate and rehung it.
“What have you done?” Jenna asked several days later.
He’d missed her. “You are welcome anytime, love. But the latch is only on your side. I can’t open it.”
The sound of the slow-moving glass door met him again.
A crisp breeze freed a golden leaf to float to his feet. Molly ran to the gate barking. And it opened. A wave of russet hair covered her face.
Fynn raised her chin with a gentle finger. Now he gasped. “Wow! Jen O’Conner.” He stared into the blue eyes that haunted his dreams. “My eighth-grade crush, and the girl I have compared everyone to who followed. None equaled you.” His thumb ran over the deep scar that trailed below her right eye back toward her ear with another branch snaking toward her chin making her smile lopsided. The scar over her left eye made it droop slightly. “You’ve never looked more beautiful, love.