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Kept Together by the Colors of Our Life
You always said you would die in blue. The days dragged along, and you walked beside them, listening to the drone of simple life. Of course, I always said to not think about that, dying, nevertheless in blue. Your eyes are blue. That would be a shame, dead at blue and the age of twenty-four. But you were certain. You grew sick of this existence, the city and sitting in bars with a glass in hand. It was quiet. A melancholy azure that folds over the surrounding area; you breathe it out in your tired breaths. I look across from the other side of the bar.
Then green. Green was a good color; bright and full of exuberance. A contradiction, considering the circumstance. Remember those mints at the bar? They were a minty green, the flavor of needle-trees and a dying winter. I would pop them like candy. You traced them on the table and made pictures. I guess it was one then. It was late. The barkeep didn’t mind, we always stayed late. The cat clock grinned as we sighed in the buzz of light bulbs. Home was icy and distant.
Red was my favorite color. That red sweater you had really worked. You left it at my house once; I don’t remember what we were doing. I think I gave it back at the bar. And I had those red gloves. The dog got to them though. The walls of the bar were a light red, almost brown, but with the dim light you could never tell unless you stood a foot away. We sat in our usual booth, playing games in the air and laughing against ourselves. The barkeep polished a glass with his old rag, the atmosphere was cool. Your sweater lay next to you; I was staring at the walls. But we were dreaming, until woken by a call. We went home early that night.
Yellow was nice. The flowers outside your garden were yellow. The tulips. I drove over a couple of weeks ago. Someone cut them down. We sat under dusky yellow light in the bar. You started smoking then. To relieve stress, you hummed. The swirls hurt my eyes and made me cough, but I hid it well behind the napkins or my soda. Just to keep you happy. That first night was strained. I sloshed the ice in my cup; you picked at bits of napkin. We were alone, I remember, and it was pattering rain on the windows. We sat melted into the seats, two people barely holding on. The test was positive.
Violet felt new. Probably the car; you just bought it. The singer would moan and breathe. She walked around her stage, living the city, like the rest of us. Her purple dress swayed on her legs. Soulful and sweet. She sang of sidewalks and street vendors, lying under a newspaper in an alley full of stars. But the car. D*mn, you loved that car. It brought you away. Both of us, actually. We would go down the road at seventy. That’s when you told me. On the side of the road, sitting against the hood and staring into the dusty night. The city was far-gone. Sometimes we had to remind ourselves it wasn’t a dream:
“Was it positive?”
Our words flowed into the air, taken to some tongues in far off places.
Pink was pretty. Your skin, your lips were pink. The Little sugar packets stuck to the table were pink. We kept quiet at the bar. No need for alarm. But you were growing tired and they wouldn’t help you, at home. They could care less. They lived in a fluffy world of pink clouds and parties. We lived in the bar and out, in your violet car and under light. You still smoked; I think I tried it too. You were right, it did help. Anything worth feeling better was a good thing. Your skin was growing pale. The barkeep dried slowly, methodically now. He gave us the check on the normal flimsy pink paper. Scrawled on the bottom: Don’t come back.
“This sucks,” you quietly chuckled, “it’s not like we got anywhere else to go.” I tried to see the light in your joke, but the tears covered my eyes.
Eventually white caught up with us. Printed bills notified us of tardiness on payments. They tried, really, but the times. Everyone knew the times. Nothing could be done, nothing fixed, nothing good. A blank haze that we all lived through. The bed sheets were white, and I remember you asking for them to be changed. I don’t remember if they were or not. And the coats they were white. Not a pure, perfect white. Sanitized. Forced and interrupting. We still smoked then. I smuggled in a pack. It was horrible, I know, to have you keep smoking. But it alleviated the tension, and our time together was nice. Everyday felt like a sinking stone and soon it would hit the bottom. So when the doctors knocked in warning, I waved, frantically scaring the smoke away. You stared at the perfect tiles, attempting to rub the red out of your eyes, accepting what was to come.
Black crept up. It sneaked in, covered the light of the room. The gas came up. You eventually had to close your eyes and I imagine you saw black. I was kept in behind a window. I desperately wanted to be there, with you, but protocol. I wasn’t trained. Wasn’t a relative, we weren’t married. Lucky I got in at all. So when you closed your eyes, I sighed to myself. I hugged myself. I was grateful you’d stopped drinking. It interfered with your medicine. And your father’s stash was depleting. I tensed when they cut. Everything was fine, the dark haired nurse to my side assured me. More cuts were made. Somewhere deep inside I knew. Then it began. The glass blocked me from your bright room, and the now beeping machine. They rushed to help, tried desperately. The dark haired nurse ran into the room. I stood there, arms hugging myself, looking into the hazy room. The frantic voices lulled away, matched the silent buzzing of the machine. The air was solemn as the tarp was draped over you. You were right, I thought tearfully, you would die in blue.