ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 105: Envy
Yesterday Joshua slid on the basketball court. “Either worn-out shoes or a slick spot on the court,” he told me last night. “My ankle’s sore. I’m putting ice on it.”
The morning I called him. “Were you able to sleep?”
“I slept fine. My ankle isn’t swollen, and it doesn’t hurt as long as I don’t move it.”
“Better listen to what it’s telling you, Joshua. Rest it today.”
I head over to Charles Street, unlock its garage door, and carry out a ten-foot ladder, positioning it against the front of the garage. Paint and brush in hand, I make the climb up to the A-frame’s highest point. I don’t feel especially comfortable up this high, but I made sure the ladder was firmly aground. I’m learning to watch out for myself.
As I paint the fascia, the sun’s directly overhead. A plane flies over. Birds chase each other. A big bird — is he the hawk Joshua’s sighted? — lands on a tree branch across the alley.
I keep moving the ladder until I finally paint the last bit of fascia. You won’t have to climb this ten-foot ladder ever again, I tell myself. Then I remember the alley-side fascia — and the ground on that side is hilly and uneven. How to safely position the ladder? Let that be tomorrow’s work, I tell myself. I’ve had enough height for one day.
I store the ladder in the garage, then wander down the alley, picking up a clay pot from a neighbor’s recycling bin. Maybe Christy will plant flowers in it for the front steps. Or maybe I’ll plant flowers in it for the front steps, as a show of welcome. She’ll be here in two days.
I put a second coat of Western Brown on the garage’s entrance door and window, then look up. The sun’s dropping. It’s almost six o’clock. I clean my brush and head inside for a cup of tea, then head outside with the cup of tea. Resting on the back steps, I sip my tea.
Two doors down an older couple, both wearing sun hats and jeans, weed side by side in their garden.
Before Ernie died, I don’t remember ever feeling envious of anyone. But now, when I see a couple comfortable with each other, who seem to enjoy being together, who seem to have years of good decisions behind them, I feel envy. Or maybe it would be better just to feel glad for them.
Yes, let me rejoice in their love of each other.