ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching

Book Two, Chapter Twenty: Buyer’s Remorse

The Charles Street house has been legally Joshua’s for three days now. He has the keys, but he has yet to visit it. I planned to take over a small Christmas tree to bring cheer to its dismal living room, but that won’t happen, either. Christmas was yesterday.

We’re on a walk. I lengthen and quicken my stride as he slows and shortens his. We’re trying to stay side by side. He’s talking about Charles Street.

“Its dining-room floor needs refinishing. All the walls need scrubbing and priming and painting. Its yard needs raking. Kelly’s huge pin oak that hangs over the back yard worries me. What if those heavy limbs crack? They’ll fall in my yard. Maybe hit my house. The tree’s been hit by lightning once already.”

“Insurance covers that.”

“Are you sure?”

“I think so.”

“Maybe insurance companies consider a tree’s falling an act of God. Who knows? I’ve heard horror stories.” He looks straight ahead. “We’ll need one repairman after another. A concrete man for the front steps. An electrician. A plumber. A roofer. A heating-and-air man. When will it end? The truth is, I can’t afford it.”

“Cindi always advised us to bid only what we were comfortable with.”

“Cindi’s an excellent salesperson. She’s optimistic and enthusiastic. She always sees possibilities and solutions, not problems. But we overextended ourselves. If I do all the repairs that place needs, I’ll be property poor. I won’t have enough left to re-start my L. A. life, and I don’t want to be stuck in this town. I can’t do what I want to do in this town. I called Cindi this morning and offered the place to her.”

This takes me by surprise. Joshua is always surprising me. “What did she say?”

“She said she and her husband would crunch the numbers. I’m meeting them at the house tomorrow afternoon. He’s never seen the place. But I don’t think she really wants it.”

“She’s a person of her word. She said she’d buy it from you, if you didn’t want it.”

“Yeah, well, people say a lot of things. I’ll believe it when it happens. . . . I need a pair of work gloves and a few supplies for the place. The bathroom faucet’s dripping. And I want to rip up that nasty pink carpeting in the bedroom. I have to make the place look as good as I can before tomorrow’s showing. Do you want to help me rake leaves?”

I don’t want to. It’s cold. I don’t have the energy or motivation. I feel bad that I don’t help him, but I can barely help myself.

My writer husband’s favorite nickname for me was Ernestina, so in this 3-book memoir, he is Ernie. This is his story, our story, and my story. I invite you in.