Ben Black is an Assistant Fiction Editor at AGNI magazine. He holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and teaches English and creative writing in the Bay Area. His work has been published in ... [+]

Image of The Current - The Current
Originally published in The Los Angeles Review
In the office, she wrote everything on yellow paper: legals pads, while-you-were-outs, carbon copies, and sticky notes. Her eyes, so accustomed to the faded yellow of her workdays, had difficulty adjusting in her home during the evening hours. On her days off, the world looked strange, the color of a dream—she shielded her eyes until she was back in the yellow world. This was where she lived, where she was at peace, so she decorated her house to match her world. She lined the walls with stolen paper from the office. She bought yellow bedsheets. She adjusted the color on the TV. She threw out her food, keeping only bananas, squash, and cheese. One day she found herself staring at the pepperjack, resting in the sun that came through the yellow curtains. Was this cheese yellow enough? She loved it more than all the others. Would it fit in her new world, and, if not, could she live without it?

She tossed in her bed, dreaming of being inside the sun; a circle with its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere. When she awoke, she raced to the kitchen to find the pepperjack had turned in the sun. It was dry, cracked, but most importantly, it was yellow. She observed it mutely, this object which was now part of her world but could no longer truly be hers.

In the office, she covered the desk with while-you-were-outs, ate soup made from squash, and drank lemonade. Her world had become so bright she could hardly stand it. And on a day which glowed like her dream of the sun, a dark spot appeared: an avocado on her doorstep. She recoiled at the ugly lump casting its shadow on her yellow door, and she stepped over it to get inside. But as she was about to close the door against it, she saw the shadow of the fruit inching its way into her house, spreading a dark spot onto her carefully chosen banana-shaped entry rug. She summoned her courage and grabbed the green lump, determined to cast it out of her world before it did any more damage. But when she opened the trash can, she froze: the yellow bag was filled with banana peels and sun-colored paper towels. She set the avocado behind her on the table. How could she throw it out, how could she mar that beautiful trash—the world's only beautiful one of its kind?

She could disguise it—wrap it up in paper towels or paint it or drown it in food coloring. But it wouldn't hide what she already knew—the lumpy green skin, the greenish pith, the impenetrable green nut. Yellow on the outside, she suddenly realized, was not good enough. It was a mere disguise. But what's yellow and what isn't? She sat at her table staring at the bright wood, and knew that it, too, had been dyed, as had the towels and the rug and her fingernails. Her head swam and the avocado blurred in front of her, its darkness spreading in her vision. Only the sun is truly yellow, or bananas... But they too started out green.

Betrayed! She lurched up from her chair and grabbed the bananas, tore one open—white inside, green at the start, not good enough! She dumped them in the trash. Going for the placemats, she paused again, catching sight of the avocado. It seemed even larger to her now, taking up more space on the table, sucking up all her light. The avocado knew what was real and what wasn't: the truth of darkness and the lie of yellow. She sank heavily into the chair, considering the sun, the only real yellow, a yellow so real she could never quite look at it, and would never truly know it. And with this thought, she reached out and grasped the avocado tightly in her hands; that hard dense lump was the only thing keeping her from spinning with the world beneath her.

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