‘Can I ask you a question?’
‘Why do you always wear yellow when it rains?’
She chuckled a little, a low ringing settled in my ears.
‘It’s a lovely color.’
‘That it may be but, it’s ridiculous really, how you are so adamant about wearing yellow. You go out of your way to wear it. Remember that time you almost jumped out of a moving car because it started raining just as we were about to go on that road trip a year ago?’
‘Yeah. Good times.’ an unapologetic grin spread across her face.
‘Ha ha, very funny. You delayed us a whole half hour just because you couldn’t find that stupid ugly yellow trench coat of yours.’
‘What? It’s the truth.’
‘Whatever. It’s still better than your horrendous neon green pants with Nicholas Cage’s face plastered all over it. I wanted to gouge out my eyes after seeing that. Stuff of nightmares I tell you.’ she spits back.
‘That was a joke!’
‘That you spent a whole 12 dollars on!’
‘Okay back to the matter at hand.’
The wide smile on her face slipped back into a more comfortable melancholic one and she looked out the window of our cozy little apartment as rain drummed an all too familiar melody against the glass panes.
‘I knew a girl once, as bright as the sun, and yellow was her favourite color.’
‘Is she dead?’ I asked, suddenly very concerned about this stranger.
‘What? NO!’ she replied quicker than the lightning striking down outside, ‘Far from it.’
‘I hope.’ she added after a moments of silence.
‘Well I was a busy university student then and she was a wild spirit, things happened, time passed, so it goes.’
‘The shorter version, yeah.’
‘How about the long one? We have nothing but time.’
She laughed at that, a bitter one.
‘Time is slippery like that, you never know when you’ll lose your grip on it. It’s cruel too, slips when you hold on to it the tightest.’
And so after a refill of hot cocoa and some more back and forth in the comfortable warmth of our living room brought alive by the dingy space heater sitting in one corner, she finally started with her story.
Have you ever felt drawn to a person? It’s truly the most confusing thing ever. This stranger that you have laid your eyes on barely minutes ago suddenly seems to be the source of an undeniable attraction. It’s magical, terrifying and dizzying.
You don’t even realise that your feet are moving towards the girl singing obnoxiously loud in the kid’s section of the public library seemingly lost in her own world with her airpods in her ears, until it’s too late and she has already noticed you.
That’s how it starts.
Sweet little innocent coincidental encounters follow. They pass too quickly though, much to your dismay.
When you run into her while getting your coffee from a newly opened cafe.
When you see her at a mutual friends party.
When you accidentally run into her in the hallways while on your way to your lectures.
It takes about two months and a whole lot of convincing on your best friends’ part to finally give you enough courage to ask her out on a date and take matters out of fate’s hands.
She’s an art major living life by the moment, you’re in your final year of law already interning for a law firm.
You go on your first date, and you find out that she lives alone in a small comfortable studio apartment, she has two cats, one dog and dozens of house plants, each of which have names that you make sure to commit to your memory.
You don’t have enough time to take care of yourself so you live in the college dorms with three very noisy and annoying people that have become so much more than your family.
On your second date you teach her how to play games in a downtown arcade which she is surprisingly good at, and then on your way back home she makes you stop and sing along to a group of musicians performing an acoustic version of a then popular love song. She’s good at that too, singing. Her voice is velvety soft and soothing. She praises yours when you finally walk her back to her home. She says it’s clear and confident even if you fumbled over the lyrics. It’s reassuring, that’s the word she uses.
You soon begin to notice how she always has yellow on her. Maybe it’s a scarf, or a ring, or a necklace, or a handkerchief.
‘Because it’s my favourite color silly!’ she says when you ask her about it.
You can’t help the smile that breaks on your face and you make it a point to give her sunflowers everytime you see her.
You’ve been dating for four months now. And you’ve never been more busier. You always make time for her, well, you try to but, sometimes life just gets in your way.
It’s not all bad. She says she understands and you still take her on dates.
She paints with colors you’ve never seen before and you let her ruin your soul for anybody else.
She makes you happy.
But can you say the same for her?
She’s like a flower. It dawns on you one day after you come back home from a night shift that ran too late and she slept on the couch waiting for you.
She needs love and attention.
She’s still studying art, working on her portfolio, having exhibitions across town. You’re proud of her and of the life you’ve made together.
You have a job now, at the same law firm you used to intern at, it’s more important and pays more but it also takes up more of your time. Time you could be spending with her.
She still says she understands though.
She makes you happy and that’s all that matters.
But can you say the same for her?
You plan out the perfect date. It’s your first year anniversary after all. You make sure you have no meetings scheduled that day and you make sure that you packed all her favourite snacks in the picnic basket and you make sure that the park you’re taking her to has plenty of yellow flowers, especially sunflowers.
But then life happens.
An emergency comes up at work and you have to attend to it. You’re a little late but you’re sure you can make it in time.
It starts raining while you’re stuck in traffic. You’re late but you can make up for it by night.
You get a call from your office saying the situation has escalated, so you have to sort everything out throughout numerous conference calls and when you’re finally done and the traffic has started dissolving and the rain has stopped pouring you notice the three missed calls from her.
You run to the park, you forgot to buy sunflowers on your way over, you really had no time for it. You’re really late but you decide to apologize to her and explain to her what happened. You’re sure she’ll understand.
You’re soaking wet by the time you reach her. It started raining again.
There’s mud on your shoes and the hem of your yellow sundress, a picnic basket is clutched tightly in your hands.
You stop yourself a few feet away from her.
She’s soaking wet too, sitting on a bench with a bouquet of roses by her side.
Your first instinct is to run over to her and hug her tight and wrap her in a warm blanket after drying her off.
But the look on her face stops you. She’s disappointed, sad, upset, angry but that was a given, that was expected. What was not was the acceptance in her eyes. The acceptance that this is something that happened and that it will continue to happen, that this was expected.
You walk away from the garden when you make sure that she has eaten something and gotten a ride home.
The next day you walk away from her. From your life together.
Slowly, one step at a time. She notices, but doesn’t fight it.
That hurts more than you can explain in words. But you think you deserve it.
It doesn’t make you happy, infact, it hurts more than anything else you have ever had to do. Your heart pains more than your head after a particularly long night of drinking yourself to numbness but you live. You survive. Barely. But you do.
You’re not happy.
But now you know that she will be.
Not for a long time, at least you hope so. But someday she will be.
‘You let her go?’
‘Yeah. long story short, yeah.’
‘You let her slip through your fingers?’
‘More like I loosened my grip.’
‘You have time now.’
‘I don’t have her.’
‘Some things are better left to the past. Like a gift from the present that you would never dare take back. For the sake of your own sanity I suppose.’
‘Some people just need time and the future isn’t a guarantee of anything.’ she added after a while, almost a whisper.
‘Sunflowers are beautiful.’
‘That they are.’