I gripped the ladder fiercely until my knuckles whitened and my bones complained at the strain. I remained this way, like a rigor mortised superhero until my mind associated the tight throttling hold on the wood with the concept of choking someone; at which point I let go, momentarily, alarmed by the violence of my own thoughts.
The slight shudder rippled up through the fluidous wood and you complained loudly of my carelessness. We laughed and you dripped paint down trying to cut open my scalp with splashes of mint. Mrs Coraline banged her walking stick against her kitchen window with a resolute scowl and we tried to straighten our faces and appendages accordingly.
You had steady hands, so you had gone up the ladder to carefully apply the paint to the gutters. We had been promising to do this job for a year now, but last summer we were too lost in love to be found by anyone, even someone looking so hard as Mrs Coraline. This was the third weekend since the rain had stopped.
Up the ladders we had gone last weekend, I had grabbed handfuls of leaves and thrown them into the air to mimic your wedding day confetti. They had been slimy and the fat slugs of mildew hit the side of the house and we had had to clean that off as well as clean the gutters and for no added cost at all. I didn’t mind though, it didn’t matter what we were doing, every time I looked at you I was happy.
Finally the gutter was finished, with one final perilous stretch you swiped a glaze of superiority across the old witches abode and I felt my body relax as you announced you were coming back down. I waited for you as you carefully wiped the paint brush against the dark innards of the paint tin. Over and over until it was as clean as you could get it. I waited as you tidily resealed the paint tin and tucked the paintbrush into your dungarees pocket. I waited and I watched, enamored, as the sunlight painted you. A miracle in amber.
You began your descent and I knocked on the front door to alert Mrs Coraline that tea was required and that the job was done. She opened the door but promptly shrieked not to come in; she had noticed the splatters all over my shoes and worried for her expensive new carpet.
It might have been the shriek that did it. I suppose we will never know. All I do know is that it happened so quickly that when your body hit the ground I was still wearing my best Sunday smile, and when your blood washed over the mint patches on the lawn I was still hoping that you’d be alright.