By Sarah Rice
I’m writing this on a yellow lined notepad, yellow pencil in hand. My words look like a continuous flow of sunrise and sunset. The manner in which the warm fluorescents reflect off my written words of lead is comforting but my stomach still does somersaults. My mouth, as the edges hint at curling upwards, burns. It burns even when the thought of a smile merely bounces from one edge of my brain to the other, never formed. Never realized.
Distracted, I feel something other than my own weight. I look up. The man across from me stares back in what I calculate as a cool manner. Yet, he still feels warm to me. Light eyes full of fever heat. His blonde hair, blond skin and blond everything keeps staring until finally: a real smile. Always smiling. I’ve never known him to be anything other than bright. Like corn with a tinge of wheat. He’s like my sun King. Colored in every fair shade of yellow. It’s all I know and all I’ve tried to love but it’s hard when there is no rainbow. He’s just yellow. The world around him is yellow. Everything I see is splashed in the color of bananas, lemons, and piss. I try to love him but I have nothing to say. He doesn’t know his flaws are my own. So, I continue to write – to control something.
My mom once told me that if you keep your mouth shut, it’s like the opposite of what the eyes offer.
Eyes: your little windows to the soul. Eyelids literally open up one of the most vulnerable parts of your human makeup. They see, perceive, and silently show off. And then, they so easily, with a simple choice or mistake, like a closed eye or disaster, lose that ability.
Mouths: they are harder to control. Looser, they twist and contort to make sounds to form words. Or smiles and frowns. My mother would tell me to smile wide with open lips and shut tight when I had words to spill with no thoughts behind them. Think, speak. Think, don’t speak. But always, always smile. No, mouths do not bear the soul. They are like gutters to the heart.
It was right before my 26th birthday when I was told to make a wish by a nurse in yellow scrubs. Before I knew it, I was under. Awakening to fewer teeth, more drool. Less feeling, more pain. Dreaming up wishes when opening my “soul windows” a mere 30 minutes later and remembering not a thing. Reality and dreams intermixed in the present moment before the future was cemented. And the one thing I will always remember? The glimpse of yellow, out of the corner of my eye, from a nurse that promised me peace. Promised me a new mouth.
What peace? The numbing agent faded, but the pain? It stayed.
My parents kept telling me I was now gifted and loved but over the next few months, I felt broken and alone. They tried to fix me but my body had other plans. Medicine, needles, patience. Your pained nerves will turn. They will heal. Convert back down the right path like the good Christian nerves they are. In the meantime, fewer teeth with no surplus of anything good. I find the comfort to self-numb in the one across from me. He’s always across. Never too close. He is just burning edges when the sun shines at just the right angle, reminding me of something yellow from once before. A sun from a better time. Or a terrible time? He makes me feel better when the sun is at its lowest point.
I met my sun King one afternoon, swimming in the river. I wanted something like rain, the liquid savior to douse me from my repetitive dawn. The cool waters on my face, inflicting confusion in my now Satan-worshiping facial nerves. The cool waters creating such havoc on my pain skinned. Fewer teeth. More what? I let the water play on me. We talked and laughed. It felt like enough for a connection and so we swam together and his smile was there. More than I could say for mine. To long to feel, but to never feel right is useless and a waste of my human capacity. Like the cycle of a day and its daylight, the post-pain surgery is there and he’s there as well, but unlike my pain, he’s always gone when he physically leaves.
At the end of the literal day, it’s just all about another doctor visit. My doctor is kind; he talks to me softly like a child but sometimes like a woman.
He tells me it’s all the same still. My mouth is mine. What can he do? It functions dark but normal. The contrast was there. No cure for a broken connection that one cannot see. Walking out of the office, the receptionist catches me before I sneak out the door. She asks if I’ve been dating anyone. I think of my sun King and say no. I’m set. He’s constantly rising. I have no hold. She tells me to stay strong, and I agree. I’ll get to the gym soon. She laughs. I guess I told a joke but I really just want to leave. I nervously laugh off the advances of the deadeye doctor’s office robots. Goodbye, see you next week.
As I walk out the door, my purse catches the handle, throwing my body onto the pavement of the sidewalk. Hanging by a purse strap, I pull myself up and survey the scene. She didn’t notice and no one else is around. I suddenly feel heavy, the dead dreadful weight of consistency coming back. I thought I killed the bastard but then again, I thought I killed him many times before. He has a sneaky way of finding his way back. I get into my car and I drive with all my burdens in the backseat, watching me through the mirror. I drive towards the sun. My sun King. It has been almost 5 years and I still look directly at the dark and yellow ball of fire burning at my flesh, wishing I would finally go blind.
In the end, I’m too tired to drive. I sit by the bank of the river between the doctor, my house, and where I shouldn’t venture. I could go no further. The receptionist would be proud – mentally forgetting was making me stronger but my muscles have collapsed beneath my skin. I felt the sprinkle of water fly off the rippling surface and touch the area of my chin like fire droplets when the breeze came through.
“I’m sorry, it seems the damage is permanent.”
I miss my sun King.
The sun reflected off of the chilly, dancing water in front of me. I felt cold and hot at the same time, lulling me into a passive, warm state. The contrast. I close my eyes and welcome the darkness. At least, for now, the curtains to these soul windows have shut.
Sarah Bex Rice is a film & exhibition studies graduate that dabbles in experimental filmmaking, programming, writing, music and pretty much all things that go well with a good beer. With a background heavy in archival work, she tries to achieve everyday living that promotes the resurgence of analog enjoyment as well as the importance of exploring and remixing our own memories.