E.J. Nash

Henry Wilson and the Center of the Sun

Yellow: I can taste it on my tongue, in the way it sits at the back of my throat. I can hear it in the way it rings in my ears. I can smell it on my skin.

Martha lies prostrate on the bed. Her skin, too-pale and waxen, is tightly drawn on her face. I change the daffodils on the table, the ones she can see from the angle of her pillow. With deft movements, I open the window. The old navy drapes have been replaced with these goldenrod curtains.

“Good morning, love,” I say. “The sun is rising.”

That is what I have become: her sun. When she first became confined to her bed she bemoaned the lack of sun in this north-facing room. She craved its warmth, its embrace. My wife has always loved the caress of the sun’s love. So I have transformed myself, this room, this house.

My shirt: a bright canary. My pants: a happy butterscotch. My bowtie: a glowing bumblebee. I am a walking, portable sun.

The sun cannot be contained in one man. The transformation began with the drapes, then the dresser, then the bookshelf, then anything else that could be swapped or painted without disturbing Martha. She is now at the heart of this house, of the color that throbs from this room.

The doctors said all I could do was give her time to sleep. They do not understand the restlessness, the need to act, the need for me to do something. It was inevitable for the sun to creep underneath the door and into the hallway.

I know what the neighbors say. Henry Wilson, have you seen his house? The one that’s all yellow? Yeah, stay away. He might paint you yellow too.

I can’t help it. Martha loves the sun, and when she gets better, she will love the shades of lemon that have come to live in her home. She will put on her old dress, the one we bought together downtown forty years ago. We were supposed to go for a picnic when the rain chased us from the park. We took shelter in an old vintage store where Martha found a dress that made her look like sunshine.

When her illness goes away, she will wear the dress and put on her dandelion high heels. I will wear a tuxedo of honey and flax. We won’t be able to see each other because the light will be so blinding. I will feel her fingers in mine, her breath on my neck. We will twirl through the house, inside this star, inside the sun itself.

"to term" by Elliot Lee

E.J. Nash is an Ottawa-based writer. Her work has been published in The First Line, Idle Ink, PACE Magazine, the Wondrous Real Magazine, Bywords, and is forthcoming in Nature Futures. You can follow her on Twitter @Nash_EJ.