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The Walls Were Blue MAG
The walls were blue. Blue like a bruise, like a stringy vein beneath papery skin. Blue like clouds of mold on bread kept too long, an agitated blue like the sky before a storm. Blue like sorrow and leaving and things that don’t fit.
She turned away from the walls, her fingers in a knot below the bulging growth that was her belly. Pressing her face against the sweaty glass of the window, she twisted the sleeve of her nightgown and wiped clear a space just big enough to watch him.
He walked like a pencil would (if such things had legs), lean and straight and tall, allowing no fold of skin or flap of clothing to protrude from the perfectly vertical line that was his body. A small suitcase was all he had, and it rolled so smoothly behind him that it seemed an extension of him, an extra leg. She knew the suitcase was neatly packed, underwear and socks in the mesh pocket with the zipper, his shirts and pants folded crisply along starchy creases like dinner linen.
As she watched, he lifted his bag into the trunk of the tiny car. Then he opened the driver’s door and closed himself inside. She could not see his face. The Mini Cooper almost floated out of the driveway and was immediately swallowed by the drizzly mist of the morning.
And the walls were blue.
He had come to her that morning, sweat forming a shiny, filmy sheen on his forehead. She had been standing in the nursery, contemplating the blue walls. They had not dried in Periwinkle Paradise, as the man at the hardware store had said. She stood there and criticized the color, hated it. Her eyebrows wrinkled together as she stared, and she formed names for the awful shade of blue in her mind. Suffocation Cerulean. Colorless Cobalt. Insipid Indigo.
Blue walls had not been her idea; she had pictured
a wild mural of exotic animals and a star-swept sky spread over a dazzling ultramarine sea. She wanted
to paint the whole spectrum of colors in one brilliant picture, for why should she use just one when there were hundreds of variations of color? But he had
“I think it’s a boy,” he had said in the paint aisle, bending to touch his forehead with hers. “And if it’s a boy, he’ll want blue.” She had wanted to ask him why he thought their baby was a boy, but he had kissed her lips closed before she could say anything. And so the walls were blue.
But this morning, he had not cared about the color of the walls. He was nervous and sweating, and stood at a distance from her, as if he were afraid to touch her.
“It’s just ... you don’t fit,” he had started, raking his shaky fingers through his hair. “You and this baby, it just doesn’t fit, see, and I never planned for things to go this way. And you know, you can’t put a baby in a Mini Cooper. It’s dangerous. No room for the baby. It wouldn’t fit.”
As he talked he had paced about the blue room, his hands gesticulating wildly around his face. She had wanted to scream and tell him she hadn’t planned this either. Tell him that they could buy a bigger car. Tell him that some things in life only fit if you make them.
But she had kept her mouth closed and just looked at the blue walls, hating them. She had wanted to rip off the paint with her fingernails, throw the empty crib at him and run down the stairs and squeal out of the garage in her old yellow jeep.
But she had just kept staring. She stared so intensely at the ugly blue walls that she did not notice he had left the room until she whirled around, a million words lying heavily on her tongue. And all that was there was another blue wall.
Now she left the room, her slippered feet touching the floor noiselessly. She walked down the stairs, her knuckles pale and tight on the railing. In the living room, she yanked open the curtains, wanting to feel the light of the sun on her face. But there was no sun. Just rain and gray clouds that hung low in the sky like wet clothing on the line. And the sky was Suffocation Cerulean.
She stepped outside and inhaled the earthwormy smell of the hard rain. On the lawn, the mud sucked at her slippers. A ring of moisture appeared around the hem of her lacy nightgown where it dragged along the tips of the wet grass. The silky fabric clung to her bulging belly and became almost transparent, so the pinkness of her skin showed. Drops of rain slid down her cheeks - or were they tears? She licked at the drops that had fallen around her mouth and onto her lips. Salty.
After an hour or more (she couldn’t tell how long) she walked back inside. She toweled herself dry and slipped into a terry-cloth robe that she could not tie: Her belly was too round. In the kitchen, she put on some tea and when it was ready, drank it down without allowing it to cool. After pouring another mug, she climbed the stairs and entered her bedroom.
It was almost empty. His things were gone. His books, posters, alarm clock, and laptop. The row of tiny cologne bottles had disappeared; her pillow was lonely on her side of the unmade bed. She wondered when he had packed, and how she had not noticed. Looking at the room, the bed, the dresser, it seemed to her as if only half a person lived here.
She pulled open her closet door and lowered herself slowly to her knees. She crawled beneath hanging pants and shirts and jackets and dresses and dug among the old shoes and electronics boxes and musty college textbooks. She found the cardboard box labeled Paint Stuff and brought it into the nursery.
And from the box she took bottles and brushes and tubes of paint of every imaginable color. Every color of every sunset, every shade of every rainbow. She twisted the cap from a tube of vibrant yellow paint, dipped a thick brush inside, and made one stroke on the wall; one wildly yellow sweep of paint now covered the blue.
And the walls were blue and yellow