Yellow Afternoons

This is the visual prompt for Magpie Tales this week.

Here is my story.

Maddy was going blind. She had known it for a while. It was as if a piece of thistledown had attached itself to her eyelashes, forcing her to gaze through it. It didn’t bother her initially. The world grew softly filtered. God knows, it needed some of its harshness watered down.

Her mother had gone blind. A genetic defect. Maddy hadn’t bothered to be tested for the gene because she figured you couldn’t mess with genetics. They were the way they were and nothing could change that. What were they going to do if they found the blindness gene? Genetically modify her like a packet of seeds? Maddy didn’t think so.

Despite knowing it was coming the thought of blindness pissed her off. She liked to see what was going on.

If Maddy had to sum up her life she would say: Not much to report. She was a plain, unmarried, inconsequential woman with a tiny flat and a cat. People didn’t notice her. Sometimes it was as if she wasn’t there at all. Now she would be blind to boot. It was as if the universe had gathered up all the saliva in the world just so it could spit on her.

She began to be mad at colour. The cheery joy of it. It was showy, resplendent. In your face. She bought grey paint from the hardware store and painted her entire flat from top to bottom. She kept the curtains at half mast so she couldn’t see the annoying blue of the sky. She threw out all her clothes with patterns, bright colours, opting instead for black. People at work asked her if she had gone minimalist. She shook her head. Monochrome, she said. One colour. Just like the world would be soon.

She met Lucy one afternoon on the stairs. An eight year old girl with long, red hair holding a yellow daffodil. I’m growing a garden, she said. It’ll be all yellow. Yellow is my favourite colour. It is the colour of smiles.

Odious child, Maddy thought, with your daffodils and smiles and goddamned colour. You’ve been sent from the Underworld to taunt me, haven’t you?

Lucy’s balcony was adjacent to Maddy’s. Maddy’s cat, George, sat out on the balcony in the afternoons, basking. Maddy could see Lucy’s blasted daffodils as she changed George’s water bowl. She could see Lucy working away every afternoon when she got home from school, filling the corner of Maddy’s eyes with yellow. She was diligent, Maddy had to give her that.

My Mum is dead, Lucy said one afternoon. Maddy hadn’t known Lucy could see her, but she had been so focused on cursing the awful yellow light that was filling the room that she hadn’t thought to stay out of sight. She died of breast cancer. Daffodils were her favourite flower. Now they’re mine. Lucy dug around in a pot for a bit. She sniffed. Maddy thought she might be crying. Do you think my Mum can see my daffodils? she asked. Do you think she can see how beautiful they are?

Maddy’s heart softened. Of course she can see them, she said.

Every afternoon Maddy sat on her balcony with her cat while Lucy worked on her daffodils. The local florist asked if Lucy would consider selling them. Lucy refused. The daffodils are for me and my Mum, she said. And for my friend, Maddy.

Maddy no longer dressed her days in grey. For now she would sit and look at the yellow afternoons that gilded her world. For as long as she had.

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34 thoughts on “Yellow Afternoons

  1. You opened my heart with every color of the rainbow. Love your similes (“Genetically modify her like a pack of seeds” works so well with daffodils, life and personal growth). Sel, the conversational style you use here is so believable, I imagined them as if I were watching a short film clip. Fine writing!

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  2. I liked the way this story unfolded and how it stresses without saying so, how important it is to enjoy the moment.

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  3. Hi ENCHANTED OAK:
    I love your name. Reminds me of Enid Blyton. I really appreciate your point about redemption. Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi GEL:
    That means a lot to me because in my heart of hearts I want to make films rather than write books. You have made my day!

    Hi JENNIFER:
    A friend of mine said to me the other day :’Even when it seems like everything is crap there will always be a sign that everything will be all right.’ I thought of the story after that.

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  4. Hi MAMA ZEN:
    Oh, that is wonderful. Thank you. I am so glad I captured the emotion.

    Hi SHE WRITES:
    Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate your visit!

    Hi REL:
    It is important to enjoy that moment. You just never know what lies around the corner. Great to see you!

    Hi PETE:
    I am so glad you liked that line. Thank you so much for reading!

    Hi JONAS:
    Throw in a bunny and a kitty and you’ve got the lot. 😀 Children often melt my heart. I sometimes feel I learn from them rather than the other way around. Many of them seem like angels!

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  5. I love the idea of “slowly going blind” and the healing power of nature 🙂 Great work Selma; from grey to yellow, I loved every word of your story!

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  6. Hi ANGIE:
    You are very kind. I am delighted you liked it. Thanks so much for visiting.

    Hi ERIC:
    It’s true. Children have the power to bring such joy. In some ways I think they are little angels. I appreciate your visit.

    Hi MELEAH:
    I was reading about a woman who was going blind and wanted to write about her but didn’t know when I started how I would put a positive spin on it. I’m so glad it turned out OK in the end. Whew.

    Hi LUA:
    Nature has an incredible power to heal. Along with children. Glad you liked it, hon!

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  7. I don’t know if you know this, but the daffodil is the emblem of the Marie Curie Foundation, a charity which raises funds for hospice care and home nursing for the terminally ill.

    They have a charity shop in our town, and, throughout March sell daffodil pins to raise more funds.

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  8. Hi TRAVELRAT:
    The Cancer Council of Australia uses the daffs as an emblem too. I really like them. I think the look of them inspires hope. Glad to hear they are being used elsewhere too.

    Hi GROOVY:
    Oh, me too. There should be more of them in this world!

    Hi SUN DANCE HILL:
    I am so glad you liked it. Thank you!

    Hi PEG:
    It was a real about face, wasn’t it? I think it’s always possible to look on the bright side! Lovely of you to visit.

    Hi BRIAN:
    It is great to complete that circle. I am really delighted you liked it!

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    It was a bit of a tearjerker. I am grinning because you liked it *grinning*

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  9. I think it would only take one person to change another or something like that, your reminds me that even if hard times are ahead, it doesn’t mean we have to face it alone or removing the things that we might lose

    I like yellow, I think it’s the only color that I can look at and feel a strange joy

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  10. Hi NATHALIE:
    I agree. There is no need to sit all alone in the cold. I really appreciate you stopping by.

    Hi LISSA:
    I feel the same way about yellow. I can’t help but smile when I see it. A friend of mine has a pale yellow living room and it is such a jolly place. It lifts your mood as soon as you walk in.

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  11. I meant every word of that comment. Wow. I never knew until now that you’d like to make films. I believe you could make that a reality!

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  12. Very poignant tale – you captured a wide array of emotions in such a brief story. You also show that no matter what your situation, there is always something good to see in life – you sometimes just need to have your attention directed towards it!

    Keep up the writing!

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  13. I’ve never believed in accidents, and your story reminds me of that principle – that when we’re so blinded by the problems in our lives, life (or God) sends someone to help jar us awake. Lovely, lovely story! 🙂

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  14. Hi MANOJ:
    I think it’s true, isn’t it? Even in the bleakest moments there is light. Thanks for your constant support. It means a lot!

    Hi TEX:
    I think that too. That principle keeps me hopeful. So glad you liked the story!

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  15. What a wonderful story. Thank you for allowing Maddy to enjoy the colors for as long as she could.

    Note: I just returned from visiting my mother. She and my father live in the house my grandfather built. In one of the fields around the house, he planted over a thousand daffodil bulbs (many different types, too). This story is an absolutely perfect reminder of him.

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  16. Hi KAREN:
    I have been thinking about the image you painted of your grandfather’s house surrounded by daffodils. Could there be a more glorious sight? I would love to see it!

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