Adam is put off, by each item on the list; every word of advice sounds like an accusation. A declaration of incompetence. But is it enough? He goes forth, with tape and just the right amount of paint on the brush, huffing and puffing. Marlene smiles. But is it enough? Is he a good kid? "I just want him to be a good kid," she says, in the end. Marlene nods sharply.
"He's fine. You're the pain in the ass."
Increasingly it seems this is the case. The pain in Cathy Jamison's ass is fading too.
Lenny is a painter. He knows the proper amount of paint for the brush, about taking measures so there's no mess at the end of the day. He is an artist. Creative, you know, with pictures and stuff. For Cathy's birthday he has brought her a scarf, alive with color. She's not known a man like him. What kind of person takes that amount of time to make somebody feel special?
"Happy birthday to you" is the first thing Lenny says. "I love your dress," the second. The colors of the scarf are pale green and aqua and buff and deep blue. They reminded him of her: Banana Split and Dive, and the shoots of blue-eyed irises. Wan and vibrant at once. He knows her.
"Ever since the beginning of the summer," she explains without explaining, "I've just... I've been seeing colors more brightly. It's... Even when I'm sad, it's like everything's just more vibrant."
Not grateful for the illness, grateful for the world. It's not a passport, it's negative space.
"Do not be sad today, because today is your birthday." Lenny's plan: To spend the day with Cathy, kissing. Tonight, he's off to the Bahamas for a friend's art opening. She grins. The very idea!
What the hell.
"I want to go," she says, before she thinks it. "For my birthday, that's what I want to do. I haven't traveled enough, in my forty-three years. I'm always talking about vacations I never take, I shop for bathing suits I never buy." She asks for him to take her and they double high-five. She looks lovely in the scarf, in her smile, in the summer.
Cathy runs home to pack light and be gone. She'll call her husband and he'll take care of their son -- Marlene has joined a conspiracy, to protect her; she'll never know what her men get up to now -- and just before Lenny arrives for dinner she'll sit in the rooms of her house and feel them all around her and drive herself senseless with the possibilities. She won't pack sunscreen, because she's made friends with the sun.