ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 93: Birthday Wishes
Bella and I are still out, still celebrating Ernie’s birthday.
“I think Ernie would like dessert,” she says, so she and I cross the street to Lulu’s for frozen yogurt. We take our chocolate yogurt to a wooden bench just outside the shop.
Bella’s oval face is shaded by the stiff brim of her brown straw hat. She reminds me of someone. Oh, I know.
“Just now you remind me of Francoise Gilot . . . that photo of her on the sand with her children, with Picasso behind her holding an umbrella over her. Picasso would recognize you. You look artsy and mysterious.”
“Most of my friends don’t know who I am,” Bella says. “Or, they think I’m weird.”
“Most of your friends don’t reflect you.”
“They’re getting older, as I am, but they think older people look a certain way. Act a certain way. So that’s how they look and act.”
“Maybe they’ve always looked and acted the way they thought they should. It just seems more obvious now.”
Bella points to the hem of my olive skirt. “It’s flipped. Make a wish before you straighten it.”
I’ve never heard of this custom, but I make a wish, a birthday wish for Ernie . . . that he finds peace. May I have another wish? That I find peace. And a third wish? That Bella finds a man who recognizes her.
Ernie and I recognized each other, then hid from each other. How crazy is that?