ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife

Book One, Part Two, Chapter 77: A Storm Brews

It’s been dry for weeks, but just now I look up to see leaves stirring outside my east window. The sky darkens, dimming the living room.

I put aside my novel, find my black leather cap, and head out. The sky is one big cloud. Lightning teases. Thunder growls. Let it rain.

I remember a dry period years ago, when we lived in our apartment building. When it finally rained, Ernie led Joshua and me down to the front porch, where we opened our mouths to the big drops. Ernie did a little jig. “A rain dance,” he called it.

Oh, how I miss him. No one else like him. The nicknames he gave. The myths he spun. The stories he told. The life he led. The life I followed.

Nearing me is a woman walking her German shepherd. She quickens her pace. “The rain’s coming,” she says, as we pass each other.

Let it come. Give me lightning and thunder. Give me daggers and snakes and cracks and roars. Make me feel alive.

The rain sizzles against dry leaves, reminding me of the opening of Ernie’s children’s story, The Marvelous Kingdom of Wee, when a little cricket named Crinklestitch listens to the tip-tap of rain as he huddles under the protection of a mushroom cap.

This rain quickens. I wrap my arms about my chest. A man in a blue bathrobe comes out to check his car. Yes, he remembered to roll up its windows.

I return to my place, turn out the lights, and watch the sky. I think of Joshua. He won’t talk of his daddy’s death, not to Christy and not to me. He and Christy fight. He’s also anxious about the Charles Street house; he’s working long hours to raise funds for its purchase and repair. For months and months, he’s pushed himself.

A storm brews inside Joshua. When he comes in to work on Charles Street, I will say to him: Talk, Joshua. Say whatever is on your mind and in your heart. Take as long as you want. I will listen, but please talk. Hold nothing back. Spill it out.

Let it rain talk.

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.