ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 266: A Sweet Echo
Tonight the moon is in what Ernie and I called its Venetian-mask phase — three-quarters.
I walk to Sky Hill and take a seat on a bench just outside the hilltop shelter, with a view of the wide evening sky over the treetops. To my left and sitting on steps slightly below me is a dark-haired couple with their tawny long-haired puppy. The young man turns to the young woman, she turns to him, and they kiss. Then he smiles.
I see three-quarters of his face, but hers is hidden. He throws a small ball to the puppy who catches up with it, puts it in his mouth, and brings it back. Other dogs are about, but this puppy seems quite content to play only with his mama and daddy.
Eventually the young woman stands, retrieves a white jacket from her partner’s lap, and puts it on. The evening is breezy and cool, a hint of fall. Then the young man stands, and before the three of them leave he smiles at me, says good-by — a smile and a wish freely given by a man in love.
I turn to watch the three of them pass through the shelter and stroll the park’s winding walk. They’re facing the sunset now. She puts her arm in his and, once again, they turn to each other. Even from this distance I can hear the smack of their lips as they kiss. Perhaps this hilltop shelter is an echo chamber.
They leave the walkway and cross a meadow. In the dip of the meadow they disappear from my view. Then I see her hands go up in the air — that’s all I see — and imagine that she’s wrapped her arms around him.
Has he proposed to her? Is she saying yes? Eventually they climb back up the hill and I see them again, the puppy running ahead of them to their car. The young man opens both back and front doors. The puppy jumps in the back. The young woman closes the back door, gets in the front, and he closes her door.
How many times did Ernie and I sit on the bench I’m sitting on now?
Lots of times.
How many times did Ernie and I stroll through the park, cross the meadow?
How many times did Ernie and I kiss in the meadow? Or anywhere else in this park? Or anywhere else?
I will remember the sound of the couple’s kiss, a sweet echo of their love.