Yellow always makes me think of nurseries -- the perfect choice for its wallpaper with small, comforting print, dandelions dotting the walls. I can imagine the heavy afternoon sunlight streaming through the windowsill, bathing sunflowers inside a glazed blue vase.
Whenever I used to think about it, I wanted to breathe in the whole scene, inhale its faint scent of cinnamon and lemon, and eat it with delicate bites, as if it were well-made sponge cake. It would have to have the spanking new crib that Lou had promised to make, painted bright white with pristine little teddy bears -- Paddington Bear with his cheery little raincoat.
Instead, I'm at the doorway of an empty room, sipping tea. The fragrance of Orange Spice melts right in front of me. I blow the smoke away but it remains, the insubstantial screen blocking my view. I would have entered the room but a lullaby's stuck in my throat and perspiration gathers on my nape. I put the teacup on the dresser and the room's tinged sepia, reduced to the color of old paper and the dusky scent of old dreams, an old photograph fingered far too many times. There's a lemonade taste on the tip of my tongue, and it's much greener than it should be.
Nursery what-could-have-been, should-have-been mine. Three months inside of me was enough to make me a mother. Enough to make people fall in love, and we were in love, Lou and I, putting our hands on my belly and singing little love songs. Even the word sounds yellow somehow, antique -- an institution -- what pitying housewives discuss over tea.
Miscarriage. Miss Carriage. Baby Carriage. All wrong. I remember how I thought that the color was all wrong -- hospital egg yolk walls, fake buttercups stabbed in a water bottle, happy faces made out of big yellow dots -- all false, pretend, leached of its life. I used to think that everything I saw was tinged with sorrow, my soul pressed out of color until all that was left was the yellow of last year's newspapers. Like the whispered sigh of a bell unrung, I can almost feel a small heartbeat pressed against mine, holding her lingering spirit inside my hands.
I take a deep breath as I enter the room. It happened a year ago. There are no ghosts, just a nursery that lived in my mind. I sit on the floor, in the middle of the room. A breeze from outside rustles the curtains and makes me think of where the wind will go next. The place is clean even though I expected cobwebs. I close my eyes and open them again. I'm putting it to rest. I can see it as if it were happening right in front of me.
An old phonograph carefully labeled with black ink, stuck into an album, and hidden inside an antique chest. Somehow the tears I shed aren't sad. I look around and it's there and I'm letting it go.
I take another deep breath as I look at the walls. The yellow paint has smudges, and I put my hands on the place where it's soiled. Lou should start cleaning these walls again. I stare at them for a very long time.
Maybe someday we'll repaint the walls white.
© 1999 Marikit Uychoco, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
I wrote this as catharsis and as a message that I wanted to impart.