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.