The woman who lives in the condo next door is deathly afraid of insects. It's a full-blown phobia. I know this because she's systematically removed every last bit of vegetation from her property since the day she moved in two years ago. "I don't want bugs!" she told me. When I gaze down into her yard from my upstairs balcony, I see nothing but concrete and a fake putting green. When I look at mine, I see overgrown rosemary bushes and assorted scraggly shrubs – a veritable haven for all kinds of vermin.
My neighbor and I are both widows, and, perhaps to stave off loneliness, we've become good friends. This poses an unfortunate dilemma. Should I inform her about the orb weaver, a spider the size of a quarter, who lives in a dark corner of the eaves under our shared roof? Should I tell her that I've watched in fascination as he spins an intricate web that stretches from my balcony to hers? Should I say that every evening, at twilight, I see him swaying in his lair on a summer breeze, occasionally consuming a snack of gnat? Given her arachnophobia, should I admit that I've come to enjoy the orb weaver's company, and that I've named him Clifford?
my tulips bloom
the neighbor plants
a "for sale" sign