Saffron Yellow

June 27, 2008
By caroline byrd, Boiling Springs, SC

Old urine, she thought, as she assessed the hue of the evening summer sky. The sun was hiding behind rain clouds, casting a sickly yellow glow on everything it touched. She yawned and drew the blanket tighter, its comfortable warmth enveloping her. The girl watched silently as the neighbors’ dog stalked a grasshopper as if it were his dinner for the week. She looked up at the clouds once more, judging how long she had until the rain began. The clouds were a worn out white quilt, thicker in some places than others. Her deep brown hair flashed red in the occasional ray of sun.
My feet are dirty, she remarked to herself without emotion.
She suddenly became aware of someone calling her name. A male voice. How odd, she thought.
Claire! The wind carried the faint word to her ears as if it was a gift. She didn’t care. She didn’t care about much of anything anymore. Nothing mattered. The voice kept coming closer. Claire! Listen to me! Listen she would, but responding was a whole different story. The boy, with curly black hair and a bone thin frame dressed in an old white t-shirt and jeans, ran, out of breath, to the girl. She refused to acknowledge his presence, not in a snide manner, simply as though she did not notice his arrival.
Claire I’m sorry. Really. You have to get over this.
The girl continued to stare into the clouds. Saffron, I think, she concluded.
Baby, please just say something--
She turned to him sharply, her eyes flaring.
I’m not your baby.
The girl turned back towards the clouds, her face relaxing once more.
The boy’s face crumbled.
Claire. It’s me. Abe. Please… I can’t do this. Claire?
The girl’s poker face did not change at all, except for a vagrant tear slipping surreptitiously down her flushing cheek.
Encouraged slightly, the boy sat on the picnic bench beside the girl’s chair. His trembling hand ventured towards the back of her head to stroke her kitten-soft hair, but rejected the idea before it had gotten within a foot of its goal.
The girl began to lose control of her stoic appearance, her face twisting into a sob. She turned away hurriedly, before the boy could see the effect he had on her.
Claire, he said one more time.
She could not hold herself together.
“Why couldn’t you just leave me alone after all that happened?” she choked, drawing her knees up miserably into her blanket.
“After all that happened?” he asked angrily. “Claire, that’s exactly why I can’t ever leave you alone.”
This did not help the girl to contain herself. She burst into open sobs.
The boy did not know what to do with her. He never had. He pulled her shoulders up so that she was facing him at arms length.
“Don’t you realize that I won’t leave? No matter what you do?” he said with a gentle shake.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered shakily, as she fell back into her chair, withdrawing back into her shell.
“Don’t do that!” he yelled, scaring her.
“What?” she said, having finally gained composure.
“Box yourself up like that so no one can get at you. I’m not going to hurt you. Why do you do that?” the boy said.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, calmly returning her gaze to the horizon.
He walked in front of her so that he was blocking her view.
Liar, his eyes said to hers.
I can’t help it, her eyes pleaded. I don’t know what else to do.
He collapsed back onto the bench, dejected. Without a suitable answer to her pain, he pulled the wooden bench around so that he was facing the same way as the girl was, and began to watch the sunset with her.
The girl breathed a sigh of contentment, strange to hear after the previous exchange. Now it was the boy’s turn to hide a stray tear.
Emboldened, he reached towards her arm and took hold of her upper arm in a comforting hold, just to reassure her of his presence.
Why is he still here? the girl thought. She had treated him horribly, broken his heart, and yet he returned when she hated him with all her being and needed him the most.

Depression sucks, they thought.

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