Her face was like a novel. Each wrinkle told the time. Tilted creases above her lips from her wedding day, and deep lines in her wrists from the days she chooses not to remember. Her skin was tight and the color of eggshells. The sun left ink stains on her clothes. Her ancient pyramid house lay on the corner of Adams and Washington, and each day she made the same attempt at her only joke “Wow am I really that old, I’m up here with the founding fathers.” Each day she left her house, and immersed herself into society as best she could. The locals always laughed at her joke but each one knew that their emotion was purely sympathetic. The sympathy was definitely there but nobody quite knew why: her aging frame just screamed pity. Every once and awhile she creaked open her red-streaked door to check for a letter that never came. As far as anybody knew she did not have any connections outside of the small town. Nobody knew who or what she was expecting, but I did.
It was one of those chilled foggy January mornings where the sun hadn’t quite come up yet, and darkness was a blanket over the yellow school bus that I rode every morning. I sat on the corner of Adams and Washington reading my history textbook. I was a deep thinker I was always told, but I thought to myself, what’s the point of deep thinking if nobody can comprehend what you do? I laughed quietly at the irony of this. I tended to think about things like that a lot. The other kids joked and jostled each other on the sidewalk intersection, which almost always ended up in a full-fledged fight, waiting for our school bus. I sat at my usual spot under the tree, which I arrived at 20 minutes early to claim. I watched Maxwell fall down, doubling over in pain. His tooth had been knocked out; I did not feel pity. Face first into the snow he went, and when he found the strength to push himself up, the snow was yellow where I expected to see red. I laughed because only I saw a small dog mark his spot next to the bark. I ruffled though my textbook waiting for something to relieve my boredom and stumbled on a page about Egypt. “Yellow”, it said, “symbolizes deep mourning in Egypt. Warriors paint themselves this color before war to remember that mourning the dead is not too far away.” Strange I thought, the school bus came hurling through the streets surely waking everybody nearby.
I stopped and waited for the rest of the kids to get on the bus, worried that one of them may start a conversation with me. I didn’t like things pushing me out of my comfort zone. “Good morning Marlene”, I whispered to the bus driver as her small black child clung to my leg as he did every day. What was it that he sees in me that the others choose not to. I stuck my hand out for a fist bump, and he missed it. The rays of golden sunlight were probably obscuring his view. I sat down and felt a slight discomfort, gnawing at my mind. Something isn’t right, I thought. I went through my checklist: first the front two pockets in my backpack, then the shoulder strap for my pack of gum, the middle pocket for my computer and then fingered, counting 3…4...5 blue binders. Done. But still there was this gnawing at my mind while the other kids frolicked through their thoughts. The tension finally subsided when I looked out the window and saw a tiny wide-eyed head peek out of the red streaked door. The old gray hair on the woman’s head was frayed at the ends in knots. Phew, I would hate to see the day that poor old fool didn’t show up. An odd day that would be. An abnormal day. She was clinging onto something tight, running through her checklist sort of how I had done mine. “Heel,” she whispered to something behind the door. Her aging yellow lab bolted out of the house, eyes sagging with some deep unfound wisdom. Their faces matched, which was peculiar because the story told by such a face as hers cannot just be simulated. Without faltering they walked the route that they did every day since I had come to this bus stop. The window frame cut my view of the woman and her dog as the bus drove passed. That day at school we had a lockdown drill.
The sun set yellow and red that night. I craved for it to stay, but it sank into the sharp edge of the horizon. My dreams felt like silent screams. My thoughts a bunch of strings knotting at the ends. Nothing quite tied together. In the morning I arose with this unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. Whatever I had dreamt about left a bad taste in my mind. An aftertaste that reeked of death and havoc. I knew that something had gone wrong, that the static normality in my life had ended but I was not completely sure why. It was 6:00. From my basement I ascended the stained carpet stairs to the ground level of my house. Pieces from my dream started coming back to me, as they usually do later in the day. A letter, I thought. A man or an animal. Or maybe both. I ran downstairs grabbed my headphones and flew out the door.
Slowly I walked the 1.5 miles, 8 blocks, and 1,062 steps to my bus stop. It was a near perfect day, only one cloud visible in the sky. And the crisp breeze air-dried my hair. I had always passed other closer bus stops on the course of my walk, but since I started middle school, I always went to Washington and Adams. I wasn’t really accustomed to change. That day I was really late. I walked up to my tree and sat down, this time facing the yellow house on the corner. I started going through my checklist. When I finished, I counted the pieces of grass until I was satisfied. The chilling mid-January wind blew past and I rose the scarf up to my face. Wide-eyed I stared into the house, and saw the curtains on the inside blow with the wind. A cloud covered the sun and cast an eerie shade on the scene. My breath was now hoarse and shallow.
Sharp black shadows danced inside her house. Flashes of movements. as the dance continued. The man dominated. Every little while he stepped on her feet, and silent screams squeezed their way out through any flaw in the houses’ structure. A faint whimper escaped through a hole in the roof, where her house must have suffered during the rainy season. A halting bark seeped through the yellow paint, and I began to add color to this scene in my head. I added deep red and black, as I stroked the scene with my minds’ brush. I filled in the lines, making sure to tend for the colors that had seeped out of their boundaries. Screams rattled the scene, interrupting the colors’ fluidity, staggering the brush. And then it was finished. Every color made sense, and every consequent movement of their labored dance clicked. Water-colored drops then came flowing out of my eyes; a color whose boundaries I could not tend to. Tear drops, a color of confusion, that blend all other colors together distorting the view of the house.
As I awoke from this state of lucidity, I realized the bus had left me sitting under my oak tree legs crossed. Fingers Crossed. It passed by, the children between the windows probably screaming my name, but I did not hear them for their voices were only colors now. I walked back home feeling faint and climbed into my bed. There was a certain sickness about me, and I could not get up. My eyes burned red and my nose stung, my bones ached and weakness took over me. I dreamt about colors.
The next few hours felt like weeks. I woke up intermittently, each time wishing that the haze that floated over me would dissipate. My ears buzzed, and my thoughts were once again like knots. I could not cut through the buzz in my ears well enough to hear anything, but I saw distorted images out my window. I remembered my Egypt book. Can a pyramid cast a shadow, I thought. With four equal base sides and a tip, it could only cast one on itself, not being able to leave the boundary lines of the structure. I felt feverish. Four hours had passed when I finally regained enough strength to get up. My mind ached more than my head, and my thoughts more than my body. I waddled around the room and the clock rang 6 times. Once again, I grabbed my headphones and walked to the bus stop. I was early.
I sat under my tree that clear blue day, but did not wonder about anything. No intriguing thoughts sifted through my mind, and I did not count any grass, nor books in
my backpack. I just sat there and watched life bloom. The yellow door creaked open and the bright sky stayed bright. Her movements were slower than usual, her eyes a little less color-filled. The leather leash she now held onto was worn and frayed. I tracked my eyes further down the leash to the lab. His fur was no longer yellow, his coat had been washed away. Red streaked fur now clotted his coat, clumping his hair together in tight wads. The woman’s wrinkles creased like the last page of a story, her book had ended. Still, the two walked leaving footprints of blood in the snow. She walked onto the icy sheet on the road, dragging her dog by his neck, cutting into his fur coat, his protection. He was limping but she was too blind to notice. His third leg, now a little shorter than the rest dragged along the ice, scratching into the surface leaving pools of blood to fill in the cracks. Still she did not turn around. “C’mon Yellow”, she whispered, “you don’t want to walk today? Fine” Obliviously, she put on her hood to the yellow trench coat and turned around. Slowly she dragged the limping dog back across the sheet of ice, splashing in the pools of color, walked the steps up to her house, removed the letter from her mailbox addressed to “Rose”, and creaked shut the yellow door.