“Soft yellow?” I ask.
“Yes, I was researching on Pinterest, and it’s so pretty and uplifting, the color like the soft sun. Besides, no one frowns when they see yellow. It makes you smile.”
“Does it?” I tilt my head, smiling. “Was that on Pinterest also?”
“No, that was on Google when I searched for the most cheerful color.” She laughs, and I shake my head with a chuckle. “I’m not kidding.”
“I would never doubt a woman and Google,” I tell her. “Ever.”
“Did Eric do things around the house?” she asks.
“Yes,” I answer. “But in his defense, Hailey always started it when he was gone, and he would finish it for her.”
She pffts. “Meanwhile, for him to cut the grass, I had to cheer him on.” Her voice isn’t sad this time; it’s kind of the opposite.
“Okay, so yellow kitchen and then what?”
“No idea,” she answers. “One room at a time.”
I shake my head. “You really are a badass.”
She laughs now, a full belly laugh. “It feels good,” she says, “being a badass. Or maybe it’s you.”
“Me?” I ask her, but she can’t answer because the siren sounds. “Gotta go.” I disconnect, getting myself downstairs while I get into gear. It’s only four hours later when I check my phone and see she sent me a message as soon as the call came in.
I look at the clock and see it’s way past one a.m. I’m afraid to wake her up, so I make a note to message her tomorrow. I fall asleep, dreaming of nothing but yellow—yellow sun, yellow sand, and blond yellow hair.
I wake and check my phone to see if he texted me back while I kiss the girls good morning and head downstairs to start breakfast and make coffee.
I yell for the girls, and we rush out, catching the bus without a second to spare. When I get back home, I get in my car and hit up Home Depot. I go straight for the paint department, choosing a soft, soft yellow. I pick up everything I need in order to make it happen. I walk to the car with a smile, unloading the car in four trips. I’m finally moving things out of the room when the doorbell rings. I walk to it, seeing it’s Judy.
“Hey,” I say, opening the door. “Come in.”
She comes in, smiling, and follows me to the kitchen. “Sorry, I can’t offer you anything. I’m about to start painting.”
She gasps out in shock as she looks around and sees the mess of the room, the yellow paint poured in the pan in the middle of the room. “What are you doing?” she asks, looking at me.
“I’m painting the room,” I tell her, thinking it’s pretty obvious as to what I’m doing. “It’s been a long time, and it hasn’t been painted, so why not?”
“Well, Eric painted this room two years ago,” she says, wringing her hands. “It’s just …”
“I’ve been asking him to paint this room for a year, and he never did it,” I tell her, picking up the roller. I roll it in the paint and then try it on the wall to see how the color looks. “Isn’t it pretty?” I smile, turning to her and seeing her scowl.
“No, actually, it’s not.” She folds her arms across her chest. “It’s ridiculous.”
I shrug my shoulders, not letting her get to me, but the tears start coming as I blink them away, or at least try. “I like it.”
“This whole thing has gone on long enough,” she says, her words coming out in almost a yell. “Ever since Eric died, you’ve changed. It’s like you aren’t even that person anymore,” she spits out, and I turn around, looking at her.
“I think you seem to be mistaken on that.” I look at her, my heart pounding and almost breaking when I see the look she is giving me, the look like I’m an afterthought, the look she’d give a stranger. “You see, when Eric died, my entire life came out as a lie.” I blink, and the tears still fall. “Everything that we had for the past twelve years has been playing in my mind.”
“He made a mistake!” she shouts.
“A mistake?” I laugh and cry at the same time. “A mistake is he chose the wrong shirt to put on, or he picked up Coke instead of Diet Coke.” She glares at me. “Marrying another woman wasn’t a mistake. Living with her for eighteen months wasn’t a mistake. Painting her house and fixing up her house wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice. A choice he made because he was selfish.”
“How do you know he did all that?” she asks, and I just shrug.
“I’m assuming since he didn’t do them here, he must be doing it somewhere.”
“Well, that’s the problem; you’re assuming instead of knowing.”