Ernie by Promise Laino

Scene I

[The lights are dimmed. Ernie’s mother (mama), sits slouched in a chair in her son’s hospital room sipping coffee. Ernie has just confessed to his mother that he had consumed yet another moldy poptart, but he was doing better now and they were preparing to go home. His mother wears a concerned expression on her face, she leans forward and prepares herself to finally speak]

Mama: Ernie, can I ask you something?

[Ernie turns his head to look at his mother in the corner]

Ernie: Of course mama, whatcha wanna ask me?

Mama: [she sips her hot coffee before proceeding] Well, I wondered if you felt like I’m not giving you enough attention since I’ve been working a bit more lately.

Ernie: No mama, not at all. I know you gotta work. Why momma? [Ernie seems confused]

Mama: No reason sweetheart, you just seemed a little down to me lately is all. I guess I just don’t understand why you chose to keep and eat two moldy pop tarts Ernie.

Earnie: [with a frown] I just thought they were cool, and the wrapper are pretty, and well when the ants started to eat them I got scared that I wouldn’t have them anymore so I ate them for myself.

[Ernie’s mother lets out a small chuckle and shakes her head]

Ernie: Why are you laughing at me? It’s not funny mama, I really did like them!

Mama: Ernie, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing because you, my sweet boy, have a different mind than lots of other people and I love that so much about you. [She walks over to him and kisses his forehead]

[Ernie’s mother sits back down and they sit in silence waiting for the nurse to discharge them]

Ernie: Hey mama? [Ernie sits up a bit more in the hospital bed]

Mama: What sweet heart?

Ernie: Do you think daddy loved me for my mind too?

[Ernie’s mother had not expected the question and had been thrown off. She had known Ernie had been missing his daddy lately, but Ernie never spoke of him much.]

Mama: Ernie…I know your daddy loved you for THAT and SO much more. [She pauses for a moment then continues] You know, before bed every night, your daddy used to lay in bed with me and tell me all of the things he thought you did amazing each day!

{Ernie’s face lit up]

Ernie: Really?!

Mama: Yep, and then before we both shut our eyes he would get up out of bed, sneak quietly over to your room, and stand in your doorway for a moment, so proud of you. 

[Before Ernie could respond a nurse knocked on the door] 

Nurse: Ernie? I think you should be ready to go home! [She smiles at Ernie’s mother then hands them a packet with information about mold exposure and avoidance, then she walks the two of them out and down the hallway]

Mama: Let’s get out of here kiddo! [She winks] 

Ernie: Can we get a pop-tart mama?

[Ernie’s mother stops in her tracks and the nurse turns around. They both looked shocked.] 

Mama: Ernie?

Ernie: Mama I’m just kidding! I know, no more pop tarts anymore.

[His mother and then nurse both look at each other and let out a sigh of relief.]

Scene II

[Ernie and his mother arrive at home. They get inside and she drops her keys on the table while Ernie bolts up the stairs to get ready for bed]

Mama: Ernie, don’t forget to brush those teeth, and you have to take this medicine the doctor sent us home with!

Ernie: [yelling down the stairs] Okay momma!

[Ernie’s mother smiles and stretches as she takes off her shoes and jacket. As she’s taking it off a paper falls out of her pocket. She unfolds it and begins to read it…then she starts to cry.]

Mama: [yells] Ernie…sweetheart, can you come down here quickly?!

[Ernie flies down the stairs happily]

Ernie: I finished brushing my teeth momma! 

[He notices his mother crying]

Ernie: Momma, what’s wrong?

[Ernie’s mother reaches out to hand Ernie the piece of paper]

Momma: I found this in my jacket pocket. I haven’t worn that jacket for a very long time. It’s for you sweetheart…

[Ernie who is a very good reader begins reading what is written on the paper]

Ernie,

Small fry, I know we’ve talked about how daddy will be gone soon. That means you’re gonna be man of the house soon so I have a few important missions for you…

I love you so much Ernie boy.

-Dad

[Ernie and his mother read the very long note together. With it came laughs and tears]

Ernie: Momma, I miss him sometimes.

Momma: Ernie, I miss him sometimes too.

[Ernie’s mother hugs him and they walk together up the stairs to go to bed]

Ernie: Wait my medicine!

End