Death can be nothing other than yellow for Cora. The time before and the time after. Hell, death itself was bold, school bus yellow. She vividly remembered death every Spring as young shoots pushed their way to the surface, seeking the warm yellow sun.
They lived their lives simply. Had the picket fence, the white clapboard two story colonial and the well cut lawn along with an extensive garden that stretched around the house from front to back. Cora always took meticulous, obsessive care of the flower beds. She sculpted in yellow, white and red waves of heirloom blooms.
Chasing tuffets of snow, a vast, flowing blanket of white Peter Pan crocus’ announced the arrival of Spring with deep heady fragrance and tiny yellow fingers reaching for the warmth of the sun. Not wanting to be outdone, the Campernelle daffodils arrived with their yellow spiky stars and zigzag scalloped cups dipping and swaying through the carpet of white. Taking the curtain call was the tulips. Bobbing their heads in the near summer breezes were the bold, brilliant red Kingsblood, and demure Mabel tulips whose crimson bowls streaked with delicate veins of white.
Stuart on the other hand, was singularly obsessed with corn. He had a plot in the back corner of their lot where he planted four rows of ratty, anemic bland corn. He raved at the deliciousness of his crop, unaware he had procured common field corn which lacked the sweetness and tender kernels of the varieties normal gardeners planted. Cora tolerated the nonsense because it was tucked away where she didn’t have to see it. He limed, manured and hoed around. Too much of everything. His garden was stunted and feeble, but it made him happy and he left her gardens alone.
That Spring the tool shed was thrown wide and the commotion coming from within heralded Stuart’s usual routine of digging and shuffling through hoes, shovels, rakes and various bags of garden enhancements. Cora listened to the endless racket grinding her teeth, clenching her eyes tighter and tighter with each bang, and tried to go about her daily household duties.
CRASH! “I’m not going to say anything. It won’t do any good.”
RATTLE CLANG BANG! “I’m keeping my nose out of his business. It will be over soon enough.”
With each noise she winced and jumped. She glanced out the window as she began washing the dishes from her afternoon tea. The water was warm and carried a puffy white cloud of soap bubbles. She gently pulled her grandmothers delicate tea cup out of the water. It was beautifully embellished with tulips and gilded with a rim of gold. Gently wiping inside and out, she cleaned and rinsed, then as she reached for the dish drainer, RUMBLE RUMBLE CRACK! and the cup slipped from her grasp and shattered on the granite counter top.
“Uhh! Uhh! That’s it!”
She stormed through the kitchen, into the dining room and out the patio doors. As soon as her toe hit the sod she began yelling at her husband.
“Stuart for the love of God! What in the hell are you doing? How damn much effort does it take to get a few tools out of the shed?”
As she arrived at the shed, Stuart wore a grin Cora saw as ridiculous and condescending.
As he swept his arm behind him he said, “Sorry honey. I can’t seem to find my weeding bucket. Those dandelions have already got a grip on my plot.” The bright yellow pincushions were happily thriving where Stuart planted his annual crop.
She raised her clenched fist and ejected her forefinger and stabbed at his chest. “Just shut up. You don’t even have a clue what you’re doing. All you do is rattle around and dig and put crap in the soil and all for a few rows of stupid field corn.”
Stuarts face fell, his feelings stung.
“Now wait a minute Cora. That’s just mean and uncalled for.”
“Uncalled for? I’ll tell you what’s uncalled for, it’s you pretending to be a gardener. No one wants to eat corn the farmers feed their cows.”
She stumbled over a hose and bumped into the shed knocking over a hoe. Cora grabbed it as she steadied herself and continued to bark. “I’ve had it Stuart, no more!”
Stuart, now amused by his wife’s over the top reaction, put a hand over his mouth to conceal a smirk. When he started to shudder with corked up laughter, red hot anger rose in her face. She grabbed the hoe with both hands and swung it around and down onto his smug, patronizing head. Over and over. Again and again. She finally stopped and found herself slick with sweat and blood, and breathed in great gulps of air. She dropped the tool and smiled. A small giggle escaped as she looked over the ruined mess that was her husband. She giggled again and it rolled into uncontrollable laughter. She saw the yellow daffodils laughing with her from the front of the yard.
With his own tools, she picked a place in the yellow splash of dandelions and began digging. Each time she glanced back at Stuart, laughter overtook her and she leaned on the shovel until the hysteria subsided. Finally she had a Stuart sized hole and she roll and roll and roll him in. Then shovel by shovel, she covered him with the soil she had removed, and carefully spread the extra soil around the bed. She returned all the tools to the shed except for the hoe. That she took in the house with her. She scrubbed it with soap, then bleach. She took a long hot shower and rinsed the last remnants of Stuart down the drain.
Dried off and hair up in a towel, she swiped with her open hand to clear a patch of mirror. Rivulets of water continued to streak the surface marring and distorting her face. She took a deep breath and exhaled.
“Well. I wonder how peonies and roses will do in that back corner?”
I gave Michael this prompt: Use these sensory words in a piece: cool, yellow, fresh, sweet, and crackle.
When I got the e-mail with my prompt this week, this story popped right in my head. Dark huh? Of course, since yellow is the a big part of the entire post, it had to be “Yellow” by Coldplay and it fits shockingly well.