The Color Series Yellow (Jason)

Yellow symbolizes: constancy, faith, treachery, jealousy, freedom.

Robin keeps a small, soft yellow blanket with her everywhere she goes. Itís worn thin in the middle, and when you run your hand across it, little bits of pale yellow cling to the rough places on your palm. The edges are frayed, and itís badly made, like whoever made it wasnít any good but did it anyway Ďcause it mattered to them. When itís folded up, it fits neatly inside a wooden box Robin takes with her. Other things are in the box, too: a cigar thatís never been smoked, a ring way too big for her small fingers, a faded and yellowed wedding veil, an old copy of a glossy magazine ad creased once in the middle. Probably more too now. Itís the blanket, though, that she pulls out most often, wraps herself in when sheís sad.

I never got that. I never got how keeping things from the people you lost could make you feel better. But, then, when I first loved Robin, no oneíd ever left me before.

Now -- nowís different. I get how when you donít have someone anymore sometimes it helps to touch things they gave you when they were in your life. It doesnít make Ďem any less gone, and it doesnít make it hurt any less where they used to be.

But, at least it makes them real. Robin holds her pale yellow blanket tight to her chest and knows her mother lived and loved her. Carly takes photographs and puts them in books on the shelf. I donít have any yellow blankets, and I canít see pictures. All I own is memories. You canít hold memories.

I look at Michael and remember when it was me he called ĎDadaí. I look at Carly and remember when it was me who she looked at with that look in her eyes. I look at the closed door across the hall and remember when it was my home filled with Christmas decorations I never wanted.

You canít hold memories. But, sometimes they hold you.

Brendaís the first lost thing I ever knew that came back. Until her, I didnít know they could.

She wasnít supposed to be there. The woman at the church, she wasnít supposed to be there. We all thought she was just a tool of Alcazarís, his way of drawing Sonny to the church. Brenda was never part of the plan. But then, thatís what sheís always done best -- screw things up.

I didnít have time to think about that that night. The lightening was flashing, and Sonny was down, and he told me to get her out of the church. That wasnít part of the plan, either. I was supposed to stay; it was supposed to be me, not Carly, there with him. But, he told me to get her out. I did it. Didnít even think. Sonny wanted her gone, he wanted her protected. Doing what Sonny wanted; thatís what I do. Sometimes what you do is more important than who you are. Sometimes what you do is who you are. So I left him. And, I took her.

She screamed, of course. Thatís the other thing Brendaís best at. Screaming and shrieking what she wants Ďtil youíll do almost anything just to make her shut up. She did that in the car, out of it, at the church, at the safe house, yellow lightening illuminating her face the whole time. I liked watching the lightening way better than listening to her yell.

She said this thing, though, at the safe house. I just don't want to hurt the people that I love anymore. First thing Brenda ever said that made sense. I knew what she meant.

You leave, thinking youíre keeping the people youíve left safer than they are with you there. You think youíre doing the right thing. You donít want to hurt anyone you love anymore. You donít want them to hurt you. Then, you come back. And, you look around and turns out that leaving was the thing you did that hurt in the first place. And you just -- you donít want to hurt anyone you love anymore. Even if they did hurt you first.

I knew what she meant.

Maybe thatís why it happened. Or maybe not. Iíve never been good at why, only what. I never got why Ďwhyí mattered so much. Just another excuse for people doing what they were gonna do anyway.

When she screamed, I didnít stop and think about why; I just went. It wasnít about getting anything or what she wanted. She was screaming Ďcause she had to, Ďcause if she didnít scream she was gonna die. I knew that. Carly taught me how to hear it. So, I went to her.

ďIt's ok, it's ok, it's ok.Ē I was sitting beside her on the bed, my arms around her the way I used to hold my son when he was still my son. ďBrenda, it's ok. It's ok. It's just a dream. You're all right.Ē

Her head was bent, and she had stopped screaming when my arms went around her, but she was still shaking. Her hand lifted before her head did and clenched in the material of my shirt. ďLiar,Ē she whispered and lifted her head finally. ďGod, Jason, you are such a liar. Nothingís ever gonna be okay again.Ē

I just wanted her to stop. She sounded so broken, and she was shaking so hard, and I just wanted her to stop doing that. Her face was close to mine, and fixing things has always been what Iím best at. And, then, my lips were on hers, and it was like tasting lightening.

I didnít stop until her other hand lifted, clenched beside her first one, and she shoved me, hard. We were both breathing fast; the sound filled that room that smelled of fear and cages. I hated that smell. I knew she did too; she was the one whoíd woken up screaming, after all.

I could see her face clearly, even in the darkness. There was a deep yellow harvest moon outside, and Brenda hadnít drawn the shades. She saw me staring, and she lifted her chin, meeting my eyes full on. Hers werenít scared anymore; they were -- something else. She made a small noise deep in her throat that Iíd never heard her make before. I knew, suddenly and without doubt, that Sonny had.

I knew she was using me to get through the night, and that was okay Ďcause I was using her too. My whole life, as long as I can remember, Sonnyís been the one constant, the one thing that was always there, even when he wasnít. The first thing I always thought when something new happened was Ďwhat would Sonny do?í He taught me what mattered; he showed me how to live my life. It only made sense that he would be the one to teach me what betrayal was and how to do it.

She moved then just as the image of Carly coming down the stairs flashed across my mind, she moved almost like a shrug, and the strap of the thin nightgown she was wearing slid down her shoulder. It was my move then, my turn, and I made it, all memories of everything gone; I lifted my hand and slid it in her hair, not gently. Tugged until she fell against me and I fell back into the pillows and her lips were on mine and lightening was flashing again and again, even though the night was clear.

When I woke up that morning, the sun was starting to rise. I turned my head and saw her, laying beside me. A bar of morning sunlight was across her forehead, and she wasnít sleeping even though she wanted me to think she was. I didnít touch her; I sat up, pulled on my pants and walked out of the room. I left the door open behind me. No more fear in the night. No more cages.

I donít have yellow blankets, and I donít keep photographs. I do have memories. And, I know, now, why it mattered so much to all those people when I didnít. Memories give you choices. You remember things that you did or didnít do, things that other people did to you or for you or with you or in your name, and you look at your life, and you choose.

Brendaís gonna get up, and sheís gonna walk out of here, and Iím not gonna stop her. She gets to choose that, just like I get to choose to let her. Sonny wonít understand, and maybe he wonít forgive me. Thatís -- that is what it is. Forgiveness never mattered to me, the way it does to him. Freedom does.

I set Carly free once, I remember that. I remember what it cost me. This might cost me more. Standing here, looking at the sun rise, new and pale yellow and bright, Iím okay with that. Iím okay with a lot of things.

I hear footsteps behind me.

I turn.

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